6 May 2013 2.00 PM 51 F Sunny
Dogs bring so many wonderful things into our lives and all they ever seem to want in return is that you willingly share your space with them. Companionship is an added bonus and if you throw in a consistent approach to managing them and deign to then feed them too, it appears that they seem to feel they are in heaven.
As mushers, we are both doubly fortunate and unfortunate. To add to the relationship depths with our dogs, we get to spend countless hours training with them, on both atvs and sleds. Add in the extra time caring for paws, massaging tender limbs or joints, and just generally hanging out with them, and the number of hours spent away from our dogs is far less than those spent with them. The bonds and ties we have with our dogs are only deepened and strengthened with the passing of time and miles.
As sure as night follows day, the passing of those times and miles means, naturally enough, that we all age and start to slow down, to feel the effects of our exertions a little more the next day. For some, this time of year marks the end of a racing career. I look at my team from the winter just finished and wonder who will feel that come September, they maybe don’t really “have to” go for a run that day, that maybe they could just skip this, just this once. Rather than dancing around screaming, “take me, take me”, I wonder if some of those 10 and 11 year olds will be quite happy just to watch us depart in the mud and rain, from the warmth and safety of their nice, dry, doghouse.
It is a hard thing to contemplate, that perhaps the mind, heart and desire are all still willing and capable, but that the body will inevitably betray them all. To look at a trusted team-mate of many years and have to say, not this time, my friend – it’s for your own good. I know we will still have short fun runs with most of our “oldies”, but I can already feel a tug at the heartstrings, knowing that a couple of my most consistent team-mates over the past 8 years are likely to miss the exploits yet to come.
Their places will be taken, but never replaced, by the up and coming youngsters, by those puppies we had, by young dogs who have patiently, and generally not so patiently, waited for their time in the “big team”. Dogs with whom new bonds will be forged, with whom trust and faith will develop and with whom new tales will be written, new adventures undertaken and new horizons explored. And equally doubtless, I shall sit somewhere, writing, with a heaviness in my heart remembering the passing of a beloved companion, countered only by the many hours of joy and pleasure we shared and hopefully brought each other.
What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us