Blind Churchill Sled Dog Retires After Meeting Her Admirers

An eight-year-old blind sled dog was the center of attention Sunday afternoon at the Winnipeg Humane Society.

Isobel is a Siberian husky-malamute cross who lost her eyesight five years ago when both retinas became detached. Her owners were told it was the result of a virus, but the setback didn’t slow down Isobel. The Churchill dog is a trooper and overcame adversity to carry her own among the other mushers up north.

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Her owners, Jenafor Ollander and Gerald Azure, will be placing Isobel in the care of a new home with a new family in Alberta later this month when she officially retires.

“For our dogs, retiring means they will go to living in usually a warmer environment,” Ollander said. “They will still get exercise fairly regularly and live in a home with other animals where they won’t be working anymore — they’ll be taking it easy. It gets very difficult when you get older to stay living in the north; it’s very cold. They usually have a good 4-5 years left of active life.”

Azure said as long as the dogs are happy, healthy and enjoy what they’re doing, there isn’t a set time period for when they must retire. He says the dogs will always let you know when they’re ready to call it quits.

An upcoming piece on NBC during the Vancouver Olympics will highlight Isobel’s life.

Ollander and Azure run Bluesky Bed and Sled, and Bluesky Expeditions in Churchill.

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