Out of sight: Lost dog was the eyes of canine team


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This article was published 14/09/2022 (199 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It can be a truly heartbreaking experience when a pet goes missing.

For South Osborne resident Asmara Polcyn, the disappearance of her dog Ace is all the more devastating because it has left another of her dogs – Patch, a seven-year-old retired sled dog who is blind – without his trusted guide and running mate.

Polcyn, who has had dogs all her life and works as a professional dog trainer, adopted Patch two years ago from a racing kennel. Despite his visual impairment, the Alaskan husky had been accustomed to running 35 miles a day in a race – within a couple of hours. After several weeks of deliberation, Polcyn decided she could meet Patch’s need and desire for such intense physical activity by running him with Ace, her Belgian Malinois.

Ace, also seven years old, had not had previous mushing experience but took to it immediately and became a perfect teammate for Patch, Polcyn said.

While in harness – whether pulling Polcyn on a sled, skis, or a bike in the case of dryland mushing – Patch is able to run at full tilt next to Ace, the eyes of the operation. Polcyn’s verbal cues, along with the fact the two dogs are connected via what are called a neckline and a gangline, help to keep them on course as a unit. Ace’s considerable size advantage also plays a role.

“He’s 75 pounds of torque,” Polcyn said.

Ace has been missing since Aug. 2 — suspected stolen — and Polcyn fears she may never see him or this remarkable team in action again.

She last saw Ace at the end of the driveway at her farm near Elma, Man., as they were getting ready to leave that morning. He is extremely well-trained and has never wandered off, but is vulnerable because he’s so friendly.

“He’s a lovely dog and he would’ve gone with anyone,” she said.

Polcyn filed an RCMP report and has searched ceaselessly for Ace with the help of outdoors experts and tracking dogs. There has been absolutely no sign of him, she says.

Fall is when mushing season really begins, Polcyn says, and she doesn’t yet know what she will do for Patch if Ace doesn’t come home.

“He’s got no guide dog,” she said. “I mean, he’s such a professional — I could throw him on with any dog and he’ll do his job… but this is our family member that’s gone.”

Tracy Groenewegen

Tracy Groenewegen
South Osborne community correspondent

Tracy Groenewegen is a community correspondent for South Osborne. She can be reached at tracy.groenewegen@gmail.com

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