The story before you relates the events and experiences of my winter running dogs. My intent is to bring you into my being to share the perspective I came to understand—to feel--after throwing every last bit of my body, mind, and soul, into the care of twenty-five race-bred Alaskan Huskies for one of the most sought after guided dog sled trips in the world. Why write about this? Because my heart tells me my story, and the story of my sled dog friends, needs to be shared. Before you read any further, I ask that you feel over, not think over, this mantra: Life is love.
The names of people, places, and businesses have been changed. I did this because although I disagree with the thinking used by the dog kennel to rationalize the activity, the kennel folk, like all people, only do what they know. We aren’t on Earth to point blame. This story is not about right and wrong. You, me, and sled dogs… we are all products of our environment. Their experiences are your experiences are my experiences. You know, we’re all mirrors for each other.
Some other details have been changed. Some conversations in the story may or may not have happened at all. I did not take many notes throughout the winter but many of the conversation are honest recollections. A fellow musher joined in my effort to recreate the mood and events that took place over the winter. I think we did a good job. But then again I’m the author.
That winter running dogs gave me the opportunity to know that, like us people, dog’s too have a soul. As we humans hold the divine spark within, so do dogs and by extension all life on Earth--plant animal rock and water--share this cosmic energy. A magical and powerful spirit moves in all of creation. This was not my worldview when winter came. I didn’t believe in souls and spirits and magic. As a kid, sure, why not, but as an adult there was only what I can see with my own two eyes. But, oh my, how a view may shift if one is willing to change. There’s another mantra for you: I am willing to change. At the sled dog kennel, I knew I didn’t like what I saw—how they lived, worked, and died--but I also very much enjoyed being pulled along through the mountains. Anyway, these are work dogs. Yet, I experienced moments of deep connection with my canine friends as a result of caring for them and running with them. Those moments of connectivity caused me to rethink what I believe is possible. What I believe to be real. Slowly, my steadfast devotion to running dogs till the end of my days began to falter. The dogs I worked with showed me they are more than just dogs. They showed me that there is something glowing behind their eyes and whatever it is, I have it too. They showed me that a dog is not what you make of him, but of what you let him be.
When I first sat down to write my story, I did not fully appreciate the gift I was given by my canine friends. I only knew that I must write it all down if I wanted my nightmares to go away. The first draft was heavy on guided trip minuet and light on the soul stuff. I wasn’t sure others would believe me or care. Slowly, the story began to emphasize the relationships I formed with the dogs but still I hesitated to dive in. Then my partner, Gloria, confirmed that the best part of the story was my relationships, the best part was the soul stuff, and she encouraged me to keep writing. This is the result.