I’ve worked for The Air Force for some 18 years, and the Army for a couple of more. You see the military is a higher calling for most, and it’s not to say that our brothers in arms don’t abide by the same core values, for they do in their own verbiage. It might be different words but the same goals.
The Air Force core values are: Integrity first, Service before self, and Excellence in all we do.
I suddenly realized that these core values are the same ones exhibited by dogs. Maybe that’s where the came from? I don’t know for sure, but they seem to exemplify dogs in general.
Integrity First: The bottom line is doing the right thing even when no one is looking. From saving Nome in the serum run of 1925 to detecting mines, finding victims of earthquakes, and avalanches to name a few they do the right thing.
Service before self: Service before self tells us that doing the right things take precedence over personal desires. From the front lines of the military, police officers, and service dogs in general they give their all regardless of the risks.
Excellence in all we do: Excellence in all we do directs us to develop a sustained passion for continuous improvement, and to be more than we ever thought possible. No matter the skill level a dog will do his best to please us. We may not be happy with the results but they give everything they have. You cannot ask for more from anyone or anything than their best.
So, what can we learn from dogs? Pretty much everything that is important. Try to emulate a dog, and you will do well.
They Heard the Call:
I think a lot about dogs, huskies in particular and Seppalas hold a special spot in my heart. They changed my life and sometimes I need to stop and figure out how and why. Now I’m not alone in this, because many of you mushers already know what I’m talking about.
Those who drive dogs have heard the call. The call of the wild if you will. And I can bet it was brought on sometime by the influence of our furry friends. They don’t talk, and they don’t push, but the message comes in loud and clear to many of us.
Once the spirit of the Northern blood dogs takes over, you are forever hooked. America was formed by those tired of being pushed around. Subjected to laws they didn’t believe in and suppressed in what they believed religiously, or in many other ways. They wanted to be free, they wanted to risk it all to form a new country where everyone could be what they wanted.
They blazed a trail into a foreign land. One full of unknowns and danger. It didn’t matter because the spirit to be free drove them. To them the risks were worth the prize. The ability to choose one’s own destiny was worth any price whether they chose right or wrong.
They explored and they tamed a country. They discovered gold, they opened up new lands so that all those who followed could carve out a new life. Raise their families and enjoy being free. They broke the trail and gave others hope.
Now as this country has slowly been absorbed by virtual reality, couch sitting, TV, and any other distractions that robs you of being real…we are enjoying the fruits of our non-labor. Lazy and fat, we don’t do much because we are comfortable, and have lost the edge that kept those who came before us alive.
Enter the Northern breeds whether they be Alaskan Huskies or Siberians, or another breed that survived the demands of life above the comfort zone.
They know instinctively about sacrifice in order to be free. They hear the call and they answer it every minute they live. For there is no other way to live and be happy in their minds.
Now the PETA folks would have you believe that they are unhappy being staked out. They would much be better off dead or pampered fat dogs that don’t do anything.
I watched a video of Martin Buser sitting in the middle of a compound with 50 dogs staked out. They were all content and quiet. Martin said something that stuck with me. “Here we are in the middle of 50 dogs and its silent. The reason is their needs are being met. They are happy and quiet because they have love, they have food, and tomorrow we run.”
The staking is the equivalent of our own 40-hour work week. We endure it so we can enjoy the weekend and do what we really want. It’s no different for the dogs. They endure the stakes and a small patch of ground so they can relish their time on the team running. This is what they put up with to enjoy the small amount of time doing what they really love. We do the same but nobody is trying to save us.
The call isn’t heard by all. It’s heard by those few who have the same DNA of our forefathers who forged a new land. They answer the call and mush dogs, for that is what they both love.
That my friends is freedom. That is the pact between humans and these amazing sleddogs. It was formed thousands of years ago, and still exist today in these dogs. You only have to unleash it, and become part of it if you hear the call.
A dog’s eye view of humans: Vision by George Carlin
The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers,wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.
We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.
We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.
We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life. We’ve added years to life not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things.
We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.
These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.
Remember to spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.
Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.
Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn’t cost a cent.
Remember, to say, ‘I love you’ to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.
Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.
Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.
And always remember, life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by those moments that take our breath away.
~ George Carlin
The Seppala Siberian Sled Dog: Revision 3
My latest project is to write the third revision to Doug Willetts book. Having been provided by Doug with new material never seen before by most of you. I’m very excited to try and combine this new material into the revision. This will include a total rewrite of books one and two. Not so much as content but to put them into the modern fonts etc.
I want to put into the electronic and paper print his part of the Seppala heritage.
My hope is to produce a book that will live on forever. For Doug is a huge part of the Seppala lineage of dogs. Whether you liked him or not doesn’t really matter to me. My job is to record his part in the history of the Seppala’s.
And that is what I’ll do. My heartfelt thanks to Mr. Willett for entrusting me with this project. I will do my best to put into print the life he lived with these amazing dogs.
Beyond the Rainbow bridge:
Jake was a stunning dirty faced agouti when he showed up on earth the first time. He was born unto the world of man in Mankato Minnesota in a barn full of strange sounds and smells. He didn’t really know how he’d come to be or what his role in life was.
He just new the warmth of his mother and siblings. They fed and tested their limbs and tried to become accustomed to their new surroundings. His mom named Jasmine would lick his face and other end to encourage him to do what all living things did in that department.
He suckled her warm milk after fighting for a teat with his siblings. It was his first lesson in the struggles of life and how to survive. He couldn’t hear and he couldn’t see those first couple of weeks but he fought for milk and his body began to grow stronger each day.
When his eyes opened he saw a bleary new world. A world that would quickly become into sharp focus as he grew. He listened to the huge humans that looked after them. He had no idea what their silly sounds they made meant. But somehow a part of him understood in time what they wanted. After all his mother seemed to love them, and something deep inside of him began to beat within his own heart.
It was some whisper in his mind from long ago that he didn’t quite understand. He didn’t understand why him and his mother seemed to care about these big creatures that didn’t speak their language. But always there was something inside him that said you should try your best to please them.
At six weeks old he was eating well and mom had kicked him away when he tried to suckle. He missed her belly warmth and the feelings he was safe. She looked at him with big blue eyes and he heard a message in his head.
“It’s time for you to move on… for you have your own life to lead. I love you my only son as no one else can know. It’s your time to move along and do what huskies do.”
“What do huskies do?” he asked.
Jasmine smiled at him, “What we’ve always done my son.”
Jake was confused but did his best with the little knowledge he had. It was hard because life was all about play and learning about all the things his body could do. He found he was fast in the run, agile, and smarter that the other animals on the farm.
The next shock was when he was given to some people he didn’t know. But he was brave from deep inside, a gift from those before his time… who’d done this all before. He’d found the core of husky lore even if it was only a whisper in his mind.
The humans loved him but they could not understand his need to be free. His need to run and work and do his very best at being a husky. He tried to tell them one day by eating up the couch. He spread it all around the room and just sat back and watched.
His people did not understand how someone so beautiful could have such an evil streak. His punishment was soon to show. Jake was tied in the back yard with nowhere else to go. His days were long and lonely, the solitude was more than he could bear.
So, one day he chewed off his collar and climbed the privacy fence. Free at last he made a blast not knowing where to go. He ran so hard his muscles ached but it felt so good to run. He realized no matter what hurt, this is what he loved!
It all ended to soon when he crossed one more street.
That bumper chrome and hard, had hit him square, as it threw him through the air. He crashed upon a cement wall and rolled into the street. The lights grew dim and with ragged breath he took his final breaths. Jake closed his eyes and felt regret. He’d never had a chance to do for what he was meant to be. He died right there and no one cared on that empty street.
Jake awoke upon clouds of mist as he rose his tired bones. Then he saw a line of ragged dogs headed for a bridge. He struggled up to follow them his pain was very great. But something deep inside said he must make it to that gate. Some in line looked real fine, they pranced and hopped about.
But most were just like him, in pain and full of sorrow. But all of them formed a line and crossed the gilded bridge. Their they waited their turn to tell of life on earth. Each one hoping to gain admittance to the afterlife.
As Jake approached he heard the stories of each and every dog. They pleaded their case to the one in charge of the Rainbow Gate. The tales were sad except a few who had lived a perfect life. Jake had no story, only pain and he wanted it to end.
At last Jake stood before the giant gate his head and tail hung low. A voice boomed soft and sweet inside his head, “Welcome young Jake” it said, “Tell me your story of life.”
Jake raised his snout and looked upon the voice. He was a huge Saint Bernard with brown floppy ears, his soft brown eyes filled with tears from all the fears and stories of the line.
“It’s okay little one, and you can call me Peter. I have to hear your story of life before I can let you enter.”
Jake looked at the great big gate with a husky on each side. He looked at Peter and told his tale from deep inside his heart. “I’ve done my time with mankind, and I think that I have failed.”
Peter’s eyes laughed back at him and with a big smile, the voice boomed inside his head, “It’s your first time little one, and you’ve done nothing wrong.”
Jake was sad and his body hurt and he’d almost lost all hope. But somewhere deep inside a whispered voice called out. “We never quit and its been that way for all time.” It was followed by the howling of a pack.
A million voices filled his head with tales of his kin. The knowledge of a million souls who’d come before and lived a million times.
Jake looked up into Peter’s big brown eyes and asked, “What’s to become of me?”
“If you like you’ll live a life, a million times over. And if you don’t you are welcome to stay here forever.”
Jake followed Peter past the gates and entered into winter. The wind was fierce with blowing snow, and no signs of cover. The pines were swaying with the wind and the mountains went on forever. His body healed and he felt no pain as he transformed into an adult. Beautiful, and strong, as he’d never had a chance to discover.
He raced around the blowing drifts and others came and joined. They welcomed young Jake to the place that huskies go. Frolicking and biting legs amid the blowing snow.
Peter waited patiently beside the big gate. He knew young Jake was new, and for some… the time it takes to learn what they are.
When at last the game was over young Jake sauntered over, “He’d healed all up and found his home amid that frozen waste.
“Can I stay here forever?” Jake asked of Peter.
“Of course, you can but is that what you truly want?”
Jake looked around and sniffed the wind, it was all so perfect.
But deep inside a voce awoke and told him of the pact. “Man, and dogs it’s always been, they need us to learn. For people will never survive without our gift of love. We teach those who listen, and ignore those who don’t. The hope of man lives inside your furry coat young Jake of the north. The trail is hard and you must do your very best, for that’s what Huskies do.”
Jake’s heart felt like it would explode out through his chest. His job was to help all those down under the icy clouds. To give his love unconditionally, come rain, or snow, or thunder. He might suffer but then again, he might get that life he’d heard about. Man, and dogs fighting through the storms of life, one heart with another.
Jake looked over at St. Peter and told him with full conviction, “I’ll go back and try again, I think I can do better.”
St. Peter smiled and walked away, looking back over his shoulder.
“I knew you would my little friend, of this I had no doubt. I’ll call you soon because the time is very short. They need your heart and knowledge too… maybe even you can save a few. For that’s what you huskies do.”
Jake looked around and then raced around as fast as feet could fly. He would enjoy his time before he was called to do his part, to go below and spread his love the best that he could muster.
On his second trip, he met a girl he bonded to, and they grew up together.
Should I Get a Dog?
I think this is a question that everyone asks themselves at some point in their life. The answer is complicated and takes some real thought.
Should I buy a Camaro or Corvette? Should I buy a new house and move to Mankato? Maybe an Harley Electro-glide to be full of chrome and parked in the garage except on Sunday when the sun is out.
The answer is as simple as asking yourself if you should get married, or have children, or adopt.
The difference between owning and inanimate object and a live being is like night and day. The laws still say we “Own” dogs. But how can we think that slavery was wrong and continue to accept this? Should any living being actually be “Owned” by another?
To me having a dog join the family is the same as having a new child, adopted or natural. They are family and for good or bad that is for the life of you both. You should look at it the same way, before you commit.
And if this seems a bit much to you…you really are not ready to have a dog, or a child, or a spouse.
Give yourself time to learn about life, experience the ups and downs so you can relate. Get stable in your own life, learn the lessons well before you are in charge of another life that totally relies on you for everything.
A dog will never fault you even if you deserve it. They have undying love and understanding we cannot hope to reproduce. This is the Great Divine’s gift to us from the animal world.
So, if you want a dog, be ready to mold your life around what they need. You will change your life just like you would with a new baby. To do less makes you at fault.
In return you will reap the rewards as well. Unlike a teen, dogs are not affected by higher intelligence and hormonal outburst, and all that other stuff. They are stable, they don’t need much, but they need to know they can count on you.
If you meet those requirements I’d say go out and find your new family member. Listen to the they way they look, hear the way they walk, and love them for who they are, not what you expected them to be.
I would not normally post something this powerful and emotionally gut wrenching. But these are indeed sad times. Life is becoming cheap and it is somehow in vogue to go shoot up a mall or drive over the innocent in the name of some misguided fanatical religion or belief.
Hate is becoming commonplace and compromise has been long forgotten. Animals have not lost their ability or morals. They know what is morally right and they act on it. Not swayed by politics or drugs, or self-entitlement.
These two homeless beings only met when they were out on their own. Their pact with each other was to survive and live. When one lost the race with modern technology the other did not walk away thinking about themselves. He or She thought about the loss of a precious life. A life that may not mattered to anyone else…but it mattered to this dog.
Watch at 1:45 if you can bear to stand it. Learn what it means to be compassionate and appreciative of a life lived and lost.