Sunday, February 15, 2009

"We're the Fortiers"

I arrived at Larry and Joann Fortier's last night around dinner time. Ana, who is four, took my hand soon after I arrived and led me to her room to color pictures in a Dora and Diego coloring book. As we colored, she talked about random things: her dogs Odessa and Tefa, her preschool, her friends. She said she's going to be a good musher girl when she grows up. Finally, out of the blue, she said,

"We're a family. We're the Fortiers."

This is Ana, decked out in her little helmet atop the snowmobile.

She spends a lot of her time outside with her mom and dad running dogs. And the dogs are part of her family.

Cowgirl (left) and Zoey (right) prepare to head out on a training run

Ana goes along with her dad on the snowmobile while her mom runs the dogs on a 19 mile run. Joann is preparing for the Midnight Run this weekend. And she and her dogs look awesome!

Joann and 10 dogs hittin' their stride along a 19 mile training run

Joann and Larry have graciously allowed me to run a team of their super-charged dogs in the Jack Pine 30 this weekend.

These dogs are unlike any I've run before. I had to ride the brake almost the entire run, and at one point, when I finally let them go full bore, I looked down at Joann's GPS watch and they were cooking at over 16 miles per hour! Whoa!

It is such a privilege to be able to drive seven dogs as smooth-gaited and fast moving as these. This is what running dogs is all about.

When we come back home, Ana changes quickly from musher girl to ballerina in a tutu. She slurps spaghetti and juice, like any four year old. But not many four year olds can hang out in the Michigan cold all day running dogs. She truly is a Fortier.

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