Monday, July 6, 2009

Break on through

Early last season while training, Jim and I left Sleddog Lodge one morning with two teams in a veritable blizzard. It was just before Thanksgiving, and snow dumped on the U.P. in massive amounts.

Even lifelong Yoopers were dumbfounded with the weather patterns. With a total of 14 dogs lined out between the two of us – me with six and Jim with eight – we slogged through a tough 28 mile run, breaking trail the whole time. I was glad I had my ski goggles and my coyote-fur lined hooded parka; otherwise, I would have been blinded by the snowfall.

Sweaty and struggling at often a snail’s pace, running up hills through the knee-deep snow, there were moments when I thought of giving up. Then I looked at the dogs and felt guilty for my own lack of stamina.

A training run - on route 414 outside of Newberry, MI

We should all aspire to a sleddog’s work ethic. Regardless of the depth of snow, the blowing wind, or the flakes falling in a blinding sheet, they put their heads down, focus and keep on running. They do not question it. They just do it, like the best Nike athletes.

We can learn a lot from dogs. The do not falter when faced with adversity; it isn’t in their vocabulary.

Two of Jim's dogs who exemplify an iron will and fierce determination are Cocoa and Eric.

Cocoa, only a yearling in this photo, but running up front on a training run. Jennifer Warren praised Cocoa for her willingness to keep on going when the going got tough last year. "She just puts her little head down and goes," Jennifer said of Cocoa.

Eric the dog. Also a super strong leader who will break trail for hours, Eric is a linebacker on the line

Rachel - probably the dog in Jim's kennel I identify most with. Fiesty and scrappy, Rachel can dish it out and take it too

Life is often like breaking trail: disoriented and blind, we slog through and hope the path we take is the right path. No matter what your passion, regardless of the challenges that you face, never give up. Keep slogging.


  1. Very nice writing, Shannon. And beautiful pictures.

  2. Fiesty and scrappy, eh? You go, girl!

    I'll definitely be slogging tomorrow with how late I'm staying up!

    So I'll do my best to remember your advice!

    What kind of harness is Rachel wearing. Pretty fancy!


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