My dog Chow Wow is an outdoor dog, her choice not mine. The shelter were I adopted her though she might be a Chow Chow mix. Over the years I have tried to decipher her breed.
Chow loves cold weather and is always alert and suspicious. Her tongue is covered with black spots and she looks like a small Husky. All these traits make me think she might be a Hokkaido Inu or some other Japanese breed.
From the first day I brought her home it was clear, this dog needs a job. Chow patrols our yard and keeps our other dog in line. She is also a fine cat herder even though the cats don’t appreciate this skill.
Recently I read Gary Paulsen’s book Winterdance, The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod. In the book Paulsen recounts how he built sled dog team. His naiveté and knack for “doing things the hard way” keeps the reader entertained and offers many laugh out loud moments.
I had heard of the Iditarod race, long sled dog race with crazy weather and lots of snow. A race where human beings test what they were made of.
Now that I’ve read Paulsen’s book I know the race is ALL about the dogs. The human in the sled behind the team is nothing more than the pit crew.
The whole time I was reading Winterdance my dog Chow Wow was in my thoughts. She would have loved pulling a sled, as long as she was lead dog. The girl would never stand for second string.
Chow is about to turn nine years old and is slowing down. She won’t get a chance to pull a sled. This winter she is spending less time outdoors. I have turned the heat off in my bedroom so she can sleep comfortably. Just as Mr. Paulsen found his lead dog Cookie to be one of those “once in a life time” dogs, I feel Chow Wow is also a stand out special dog. And to think, I found her at a shelter.
Winterdance is a fun and fascinating read. This book is about so much more than s sled dog racing. It’s about the writer’s love of the outdoors, his admiration for wild animals and figuring out what makes a dog tick.
The Iditarod is a few short months away. I plan to follow the race this year. I can’t wait to see the dogs in action!
By Jill Eudaly
Photo by Jill Eudaly
Jill’s art blog www.jeudaly.blogspot.com