What Musher’s know:
There are a few things in life that cannot be duplicated by computers or anything else. One of those is to have a relationship with one or more sled dogs.
Yes, they are dogs, but they are also like no other dog you have ever seen. I could type all day the words that come to mind, but not even that would not do justice to them.
Furry and full of old world knowledge, they are ambassadors of a better life for you and them. They do not speak our language, but they speak volumes of information if you learn how to see it. It is subtle and requires work on your part. It takes time to understand what they are trying to tell you. But believe me, they have much to say to you.
Those of you who run with dogs already know this. You’ve developed that relationship with these special dogs. Not yard yappers, but working dogs of the North.
You have to know them as you would your spouse. You have to live with them to have this intimate knowledge of how they run, and how they’d act in any given situation. I watch the gait and I can tell if it is normal, or if pain is involved. I can predict what will happen when something unexpected shows up.
It matters not whether by sled or bike or any other means. The dogs will run and follow commands because you are the Captain of this ship.
I know my dogs so well that I can tell if they are having a bad day or if it is something physical. Or something I’m doing wrong, because to be honest humans do a lot of things wrong in the dog world. To accept you are not perfect is the first thing you should be aware of. The secret is to learn from your mistakes, for it only makes your team better.
Dogs may not speak words, but they speak in body language and attitude. They give signs of their current status and health. They talk with facial expressions and their eyes. But you cannot know this unless you are in tune with them. You have to immerse yourself into the dogs. That’s when you begin to understand them being more than just a dog.
For all this trouble what do you get? You get a partnership that equals no other. You get undying trust and affection if you bother to do your part. You begin to see they are not objects that you own, they are working dogs… and that encompasses so much more than a paper that shows you own them.
They are family, workers, lovers of life, and lovers of their masters or should I say partners. They are unique in the dog world. A long history of surviving what should not have been survived. They did it because they had to, and found ways to overcome hardships. That is the “indomitable Spirit” of the Northern Breeds.
This is the essence of a sled dog, this is what they are, but few ever spend the time to find that out.
That beautiful exterior hides many secrets to be unlocked. And you must find the key however you can.
A true team or partnership between man and dog is the run. To run with the sled dogs is something that cannot be put into words. It is the culmination of work, struggle, money, and determination. When it all comes together it is beautiful. It is the payoff for keeping the faith. It is another world that few ever get to experience.
There is freedom from life’s pressures, there is nature, there is power, and poetry in motion. All these emotions blended into perfect harmony of a team at work.
It’s real, not some virtual reality. They let us into their world if we are worthy. Once you find that… you will forever be changed. And then you will never want to be without it again. You will do everything to make it last. You will learn how to live in the moment and enjoy each and everyone one of them. You will sacrifice much as they have often done for us.
You will develop such a fierce loyalty to your dogs that you will go to war over any bad comment made about them. And the dogs feel that way about you as well. And that’s as it should be, its family, and it’s your team.
Yes, you mushers’ are a different breed, you give the dogs what they need. And for that you are hero’s in my mind.