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A favorite chew toy was all that Diamond needed to get her wheels in gear.
On the subject of Michael Vick, Perez offered his take on both the federal investigation and the charges leveled against him. “I think it was kinda harsh what they did, but it was wrong what he did. I mean, there is no way you kill dogs. Dogs are living beings just like us. And they should have the right to be happy. Not go out there and kill other dogs.”
With 42.3 pounds of dog food loaded onto Diamond’s sled, Sternberg pulled the ponytailed, nose tackle-sized Perez aside and suggested a strategy that benefited his dog’s psyche more than it did his wallet. “This is her first time, she’s 17 months old,” Sternberg reasoned. “I know you think she could pull a car, and she probably could. But the ground’s really rocky, the dogs are having a hard time and, especially, it’s her first experience. I want her to leave here feeling confident and strong, I want her to leave feeling it was so easy that she wants to do it again.”
With a chew toy placed in her mouth serving as an ignition switch, Diamond quickly powered her way down the course and across the finish line. Unhooked from her harness, she looked a bit confused, wondering why the game had ended so quickly. Sternberg’s first rule of weight pulling — “always leave ’em wanting more” — was borne out once again.
As weight-pull competitions for dogs typically go, this one hardly qualified as a contest of Grand National proportions. In top-level matches staged around the world, it’s not unusual for thousands of pounds of weight to be stacked onto wheeled flatcars nearly frozen to the surfaces they’d soon be pulled over. Yank it for a distance of 15-20 feet, cross the finish line faster than the next bruiser and you get to wear the victor’s belt. In those events, dogs contort their bodies by arching their backs into compact pyramid shapes, digging deep to find every last ounce of juice in their bones. Like a bulging Swede dragging a bus in a vintage “World’s Strongest Man” competition, the dogs often accomplish the seemingly impossible if not bizarre.
It works as a substitute activity for dogs bred for centuries to work the farm, hunt game, or pull sleds over icy tundra but now finding themselves with little to do except watch TV, gnaw on dried pigs’ ears and pass gas.