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The Fan Hitch, Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog, is published four times a year. It is available at no cost online at: http://thefanhitch.org.
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Living in the Moment
We still have no snow cover, but temperatures here in northwest Connecticut have been unusually cold for this time of year, ideal for using our four-wheeled cart. Not only that, the well below freezing temperatures have been consistent, no roller coaster ups and downs to mess with our and our dogs' minds and metabolisms.
With the sun low in the sky, shining through the bare branches of the tall trees surrounding our eight-acre house and kennel "oasis", one recent morning the thermometer rose "all the way" to 12ºF (-11ºC). A pale blue sky carried along but a few small wispy high clouds, and even though it appeared essentially clear, "stuff" was falling from above. It was difficult to characterize the flakes as snow flurries. They were more like the silvery-white glitter you might buy at a craft store to decorate clothes, greeting cards and such. The tiny frozen crystals, bursting with light as they lazily drifted and swirled, created the sensation of being inside a gently shaken snow globe. It seemed a particularly magical moment.
This feeling was not lost on our dogs either. Our morning pre-feeding routine includes turning groups of dogs out to either the exercise pen or fenced-in back yard for frolic and socialization time while the runs are cleaned and water buckets are thawed and changed. First out is always "Meeqi", our lead dog emeritus. At just over fourteen years-old, she is our remaining "Pond puppy", one of the sixteen we brought down from Pond Inlet in the bellies of their mothers back in August 1996 and then born within two weeks. We kept four.
"Meeqi" has been living alone for a few months now since her sister died. As expected, her adjustment – our adjustment – took some time. But to help ease her loneliness, we give "Meeqi" plenty of attention and time out with the other males, some of whom she knows she led down her trails for many, many seasons before her retirement two years ago. She has always been somewhat independent, "deaf" to commands when she thought they needed to be ignored and has held a strong sense of self-importance, all-knowing and confidence.
On this particular morning, "Meeqi' was particularly frisky. Even by looking into her barely clouded eyes, you could never guess her age; her gait brisk and clean, totally unhindered movement as she criss-crossed the yard looking for adventure. She flirted with Romulus, teasing him with woo-woos, play-bows and sharp jabbing nuzzles to his chin and loin.
And she made some time for us, too.
At one point, she just stood in her most statuesque pose, staring at us, grinning - her piercing eyes sparkled as much as her agouti brown coat shimmered with nature's frozen glitter – all fifty-two pounds of her looking larger than life, a legend in her own mind (and ours) reminding us that every day of Life is a Gift.
Wishing you smooth ice, narrow leads and the very best this holiday season,