With all this wintry weather going around, I went digging through my photo albums (i.e., shoeboxes) to look for images of Roma prancing in the snow. I was certain that I had shots of her in shoulders-high snow from our time in the Midwest and New England. Ironically, the only image of Roma in the snow that I could find is of her in Austin, in our apartment right across the street from Dog Park, taken in January or February, 2003. Look at how trim and alert she is.
Then, yesterday, I came across a short piece by Verlyn Kinkenborg in the Opinion section of The New York Times. Klinkenborg is a regular contributor of mood pieces that often detail the writer's observations of life on his Iowa farm. Yesterday, he was talking about his experiences riding with sled dogs in Minnesota. He marveled at the animals' energy and their instinctual desire to pull and run.
. . . And as we cut through the white ash swamp, hissing across the ice, I find myself wondering, why do sled dogs run?
It is not a matter of driving them. All the work is in pacing them, restraining them. When [the driver] Murphy stands on the brake and sets the snow hook—a two-pronged anchor—the gangline quivers with tension. The dogs torque forward again before he can shout, "Let's go!" All the one-word answers to my question are too simple: love, joy, duty, obedience.
The dogs were out yesterday, and they'll be out again tomorrow. They don't run for a reward or toward a goal—the greyhound's mechanical rabbit. They get yelled at when they chew on the gangline and petted when the run is over. They don't catch or flee anything. They would keep running of the musher fell off the sled.
Stay warm. -z