Thursday, March 3, 2011

Epiphany: enjoy the ride

One of the things I love about mushing is how much it teaches you about what you're truly made of. To meet adversity and accept challenges, even if it's with your tail between your legs, is something many people could benefit from learning.

During my only real race this season, the Tahquamenon Country Sled Dog Race, I had a sort of "epiphany." In the 3 hours and 35 minutes or so it took to run the course on those beautiful trails I love, for the first time ever in my years of running dogs, I thought I could stand on the runners for hours and hours; I never wanted our run to end. I began thinking during that run that I did not care at all how long it took us to finish the race. In fact, I stopped more than once, hooked down, and walked up the line to give each dog praise and watch the beauty of their tails wagging and the smiles on their faces.

We didn't have the fastest run, but it was absolutely, totally flawless - not a tangle or mishap in any way shape or form. Considering that team of dogs is ALL under three years old, and one had just had a litter of 8 puppies in mid-November, I was very happy with their performance. We probably could have finished in quicker time, but ... I really didn't want it to end.

This season has been full of challenges, and meeting them squarely and with grace has sometimes been difficult. And, suddenly, the entire season has started to come to a close, and I've really only competed in one race.

But I'm beginning to embrace an entirely different mind set.

Running dogs is joy. Racing dogs is stress.

I just want to run my dogs in joy.

In other news, we have welcomed a new pack member to the Ranch. Meet Freya.

In an ironic twist of fate, Freya is Etta's grandmother, one of the beloved puppies we lost recently. And Etta, it turns out, was the spitting image of her grandma, right down to her partially lined eyes that gave her the appearance of having black eyeliner on.

little Etta

I like to think of Freya coming to us through a little angel of Etta. Freya was a rescue from two counties away - a sled dog from good lines who was being bred repeatedly by people who didn't know anything about sled dogs. Freya is now spayed and recuperating well in the comfort of a cushy crate in the girls' room.

In other news, tomorrow is the start of the Iditarod sled dog marathon across Alaska! You can check it out here:

Until next time,

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