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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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Early construction of Henson’s latest “sleep ring” has
turned up a fresh crop of rocks. photo: Hamilton
The Best Laid Plans
by Mark Hamilton
Winter is nearly upon us now and I’ve been diligently trying to complete my seasonal preparedness list of chores while the opportunity remains. It’s a fairly wide-ranging list: from verifying that certain equipment runs reliably (and that any consumable parts for them are abundantly at hand) to having a supply of both plain/sifted as well as salted sand in good supply.
One of the chores on my list is making sure than I’ve cleared all the loose rocks from inside the kennel as well as from along the dogs’ primary pathway out in the exercise pen. Even small rocks and a snow blower’s auger can be incompatible. When I don’t clear loose rocks from those areas, I break a distressingly large number of shear pins on the snow blower. That’s right, shear pins are one of the consumable parts on my list.
About a week ago, on a colder morning, I took a large lawn rake and a snow shovel into the kennel. Run-by-run, area-by-area I raked all those loose rocks into piles and then the piles onto the snow shovel. I then dumped the rocks into my wheelbarrow and when there was enough weight in the wheelbarrow to make me want to dump it I went into the exercise area and found dog-inspired holes big enough to need filling. Before the morning was over the task was complete.
I make notes to myself on my computers about all sorts of things. At some point the notes are organized by category and ultimately end up as preparation lists relating to various tasks or seasons of the year. I find my lists useful. They represent accumulated information gleaned from a variety of my experiences. My lists are in a file folder labeled “My Lists”. I’m unlikely to mistakenly delete the “My Lists” folder so I anticipate finding the lists useful for as long as I remember I have them.
The behavior of making lists for my own use isn’t unique to me. It seems to be a rather common practice. Unlike some people I don’t organize my life this in this manner. My lists are more as stopgaps against forgetting things I feel are important for me to remember. Certainly there are people who do organize their entire lives with lists but I’m not one of them. List-like structure doesn’t seem compatible with my lifestyle.
For me, a plan may only last until I start to use it, which is often the moment when “the unexpected” happens. For instance, the day after I cleared the rocks from the kennel area it snowed. The day after that warm weather moved in, the snow melted and along with it the frost that had formed in the kennel surface. The day after that it rained rather a lot, so much so that the next morning the dogs dug down into the now softened surface of the kennel to expose dry ground for them to rest themselves on. The surface of the kennel runs were now once again littered with lots of loose rocks. I expect this will be the pattern until everything freezes up solid for the season. Living with a group of dogs may benefit from having lists, but building a great deal of flexibility into my plans is also a requirement.
Digging is what dogs do. And Inuit Dogs are very good at it!
Chimo, from the John McGrath collection
But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane [you aren't alone]
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft a-gley, [often go awry]
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promised joy.
from Robert Burns' To a Mouse, 1786