An Unlikely Hero ~ Harmony Barron


I wanted to recognize an old timer here at our home, our dear retired lead dog ‘Spud’. He acquired this name due to the fact that as a pup, his giant round grey head resembled nothing less then a large russet potato, balancing on his spinally little body. He was kind of an unlikely little chap to make such a huge impact in our kennel, and in our hearts.

Jason’s folks had purchased a ‘hound dog experiment’ from Ross Saunderson back in the late ’90’s named Pete. This dog was as fast as a pure bred greyhound, and had about as much fur as a Mexican hairless! They bred him to one of their huskies, and got a nine pup litter. When the pups were four weeks old, John and Kathy started their epic move to Montana. A novel could be written about their journey south, but I’ll leave that to someone else. The part that’s relevant to this story is that this litter of nine, spent two weeks in an airline kennel, {one of which was spent broken down in Watson Lake!} So needless to say when they arrived at our house, they wanted those pups out of their hands.

We split the litter in exchange for taking over all of their well being. So that was his beginning. We tried to change his name to ‘Sputnik’ as he grew into his head, but ‘Spud’ just stuck. He was the only pup in the litter that we didn’t sell as a yearling, and after our ’02 puppy runs to Nome, we tried desperately to sell him for pocket change. With his sight hound style physique, lack of appetite, and general shyness, he just wasn’t fitting in. But nobody wanted to take a chance on him. (Lucky us!)

So, his two year old year, we had him cut, and put him back in training. He started eating better, filled out a tad, and looked pretty darn good in lead, and by race time, he led Jason all the way around his ’03 Race to the Sky victory. In 2004 he was a huge part of Jason getting into the top 15 of the Iditarod, then later in 2006, Spud and his partner Zephyr single handedly led Jason into our kennel’s first top 10 Iditarod. He has mellowed out with strangers over the past several years, but still prefers the peace and quiet of our mountain home, surrounded by his own people, whom he loves dearly.

Spud retired a bit early in his career, due to chronic soreness in his left wrist. Our boy is now enjoying his golden years running about freely with his fellow retiree (and best friend) Snuffy, and our two pet dogs, Vlad and Attila. Spud is just another example of hero showing up in an unlikely package.

Zephyr & Spud leading Jason’s ’06 Iditarod team up front street in Nome, Alaska to an 8th place finish. Spud’s the big gray guy in the driver seat.

Thanks everybody, more from JB tomorrow…

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10 Responses to “An Unlikely Hero ~ Harmony Barron”

  1. J.J. Hernandez Reply April 6, 2011 at 12:17

    Harmony, I enjoyed this post. This sounds like a great children’s book. With your writing abilities and your artistic abilities, I think you should think about it. Also, did Spud do the Ceremonial Start with us? I remember Zephyr, but I’m not sure about Spud. Thanks for sharing this.

    J.J.

    • Harmony Barron Reply April 7, 2011 at 07:40

      Thanks J.J.! I’m pretty sure Zephyr and a little fellow named Steal led for the ceremonial start. But Spud was most definitely in the team. Steal was really good with his commands, then once Jason and the team left the hustle and bustle of Anchorage and Willow, ol’ Spud took over. I think your right about the kid’s book, I have to get busy!!

  2. Another wonderful piece about the Barron’s life and their dogs. I completely agree with J.J. I think that this would make a great children’s book…you were right…you just never know where a hero will show up but they always do just when you need them.

    • Harmony Barron Reply April 7, 2011 at 07:58

      Thanks for all your support Margie! I have three doggie picture books in the works, all in different stages of completion. But perhaps I should focus my attention on this one, stories about heroes are pretty hard to beat!

  3. I agree with JJ! I see children’s books in the Barron’s future! So much talent!

  4. Tish Cockerham Reply April 7, 2011 at 22:18

    Harmony, You and Jason have a unique ability to see a diamond in the rough. Spud is pretty special and so are the two of you. Love your Blog!

    • Harmony Barron Reply April 8, 2011 at 11:53

      Thank you for the sweet compliment, Tish. You and Tommy are very special as well. So glad you like our blog!

  5. a great ugly ducking story! thanks you two, and spud!

    • Thanks Matt! Yes, we were very lucky that young Spud grew into that enormous head of his- and that nobody else wanted a shy noodle like him!! 🙂

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