Tales From the Trail
|A hug for Roo and Zeus at the end of our run. (Photo: Courtesy of Debbie Moderow)|
February 3—Pre Race
Roo Runs in Lead
Today was a momentous day in the life of Roo. The sun shone bright on the Denali Highway, like an April afternoon. I started with Zeus and Lightning in lead, Roo and Terry Kern in swing, Zeppelin and Snickers in team, and Spot and Topaz in wheel. Roo ran like a champ for the first 10 miles, and I couldn’t resist the temptation to clip her into lead. At only 14 months old, Roo is very young to be a lead dog.
First she swung her head side to side, as if trying to figure out where all the other dogs had gone. She gave Zeus a playful nip, and bit a chunk of snow from the trail. Within a few minutes, she lowered her nose and lunged into her harness as if there were no more important mission on earth than leading this team.
Tears streamed down my cheeks. I couldn’t believe how much she excelled at the chance to lead. To see Roo run this well made me fall in love with her all over again.
Though mushing is a team sport, my favorite part is getting to know each dog as an individual. Today was Roo’s day to shine, but there is no telling whose it will be tomorrow.
It is an exciting challenge to figure out the details of each dog. Lily’s trot is not the same as Rosie’s, and Juliet might not be as fast as Sydney. Some of them like to be scratched behind the ears, while others prefer to be left to roll in the snow on their own.
The beauty of this day was to realize how much Roo loved her role as a sled dog. Three miles from the end of our trip, I stopped the team, walked up to the leaders, and just sat in the snow with Roo and Zeus. They rubbed their frosty noses against my face, and then barked to go again. I started howling like a dog, and they joined in my song. I didn’t want such a perfect trip to be over. It’s not always fun to scoop dog poop in the yard when it is below zero, but days like today make me realize that hard work is always worthwhile when in the company of my dog team and their passion for the trail
Hannah Moderow is a musher and writer for Scholastic News Online.