On the Site:


Utahn Dreams Of Sending Blind Sled Dog To Iditarod

Feb 23, 2020, 10:47 PM

PEOA, Utah – Musher Fernando Ramirez has big dreams for his sled dog Humberto, even though the Alaskan Husky is blind.

“I see potential,” he said. “I see determination…what’s inside the dog, rather than its outward appearance.”

When he was eight, Ramirez watched the movie “Balto,” an animated feature about dog sledding, and saw his future.

The film is loosely based on the story of the real Balto, who helped transport diphtheria antitoxin to Nome, Alaska, in 1925.

“I was just so fascinated with how the dogs worked so closely with the musher,” he said.

His mother supported his passion, with one condition – that he race using dogs from a shelter.

“I think it was more so my mom was trying to teach me a lesson of giving the rescue dogs a second chance at life and what it meant to sort of give more to something else, other than thinking of myself,” he said.

Now, Ramirez and his wife, Dana, own and run Rancho Luna Lobos. The ranch is home to about 60 huskies, mostly rescues like Humberto. A few select dogs race. This winter, Ramirez competed for the first time at the World Championships in Manitoba, Canada, and came in 12th place.

Rescue dogs prepare to pull sleds at Rancho Luna Lobos.

“Where the dogs are hooked on in the harness to the gangline, and where that gang line hooks onto the sled, and where my hands grip the handlebars, we’re one body,” he said. “It’s almost telepathic. You feel it. You feel the emotion flowing through the line and through the dogs and I love that feeling. It’s like feeling like you’re part of something bigger than yourself.”

Other dogs at the ranch earn their keep giving sled rides to tourists.

“Every dog here, every living thing, deserves a second chance,” Ramirez said. “If I were in that situation, I would want someone to give me a chance.”

Originally from Wyoming, Humberto came to Utah three years ago. At first, he didn’t seem cut out for the sledding life. He was skittish and ran into things. Ramirez took Humberto to a veterinarian, who confirmed the husky was completely blind.

After the diagnosis, they teamed him up with partner dogs and hooked him up to a sled.

“He learned to trust his friends,” Ramirez said. “His friends were moving him from side to side. If there is a tree in the trail (they) move him away; if there was a curve, they pushed him into it.”

Eventually, Humberto wasn’t just pulling — he was leading.

“He could feel where the edge of the trail was and he could guide himself that way,” Ramirez said. “When we hook him up, he’s the loudest on the team and he just wants to go, go, go and he motivates his entire team.”

Fernando Ramirez and his wife, Dana Ramirez.

Ramirez plans to train Humberto to lead a long-distance team and ultimately run the Iditarod, an arduous 1,000-mile trek.

It’s a feat for dogs specially bred for the task, but it would be that much harder with shelter dogs.

Ramirez said he wants Humberto on the team, in part, as a reminder.

“Just seeing him on the line is a reminder that no matter what obstacles come our way, we can still get to where we want to be,” he said.

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

"Christmas Street" in Salt Lake City has been an annual tradition since 1947. In 2023, it successfu...

Andrew Adams

Successful fundraising effort helps to continue ‘Christmas Street’ tradition in SLC

With its iconic sign, "Christmas Street" on the city’s east side is once again lit up for the holidays after a successful fundraising effort facilitated some much-needed repairs.

5 hours ago

Board with Kearns High School name...

Lauren Steinbrecher

Police: Student put teacher in chokehold, attacked others in Kearns High classroom

A disturbing fight in a Kearns High School classroom Tuesday ended with a student in juvenile detention after police said the student put a teacher in a chokehold, before assaulting two other adults as they tried to free the teacher in front of students.

6 hours ago

Cell phone...

Debbie Worthen

Scammers know how to build trust; victim wants to warn others

Jessica Turner, a mother in the midst of Halloween preparations, found herself entangled in a web of deception that would leave her financial world shattered because of a fraudulent phone call.

7 hours ago

Man's picture with details about him...

Daniella Rivera

Sandy case highlights challenges tracking sex offenders who move across state lines

The KSL Investigators have been following the case of a convicted sex offender from California who moved into a Sandy neighborhood but did not show up on Utah's registry for nearly a year. Now, we don't know where he is, but we do know he's not a resident at the latest address he gave to authorities.

7 hours ago

A silver alert has been issued for Arthur Long, last seen driving a silver Kia in St. George, Utah,...

Larry D. Curtis

UPDATE: Police cancel St. George silver alert

Police are asking for help locating a missing 76-year-old Arthur Long

7 hours ago

(Frank Klein, National Park Service)...

Luke Seaver

Rockfall in Canyonlands closes White Rim Road

A large rockfall over the weekend in Canyonlands National Park has resulted in the closure of a section of the White Rim Road.

9 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Design mockup half in white and half in color of luxury house interior with open plan living room a...

Lighting Design

Lighting Design 101: Learn the Basics

These lighting design basics will help you when designing your home, so you can meet both practical and aesthetic needs.

an antler with large horns int he wilderness...

Three Bear Lodge

Yellowstone in the Fall: A Wildlife Spectacle Worth Witnessing

While most people travel to this park in the summer, late fall in Yellowstone provides a wealth of highlights to make a memorable experience.

a diverse group of students raising their hands in a classroom...

Little Orchard Preschool

6 Benefits of Preschool for Kids

Some of the benefits of preschool for kids include developing independence, curiosity, and learning more about the world.

Utahn Dreams Of Sending Blind Sled Dog To Iditarod