Friday, January 15, 2010

They might be bigger, but we are never scared

Each evening, after feeding the dogs, we let Roy loose. He causes some barks in the yard but mostly just meanders around for an hour or two before throwing himself against the cabin door so he can curl up on his bed by the wood stove for the night. Last night I let him loose after Patty and I took out two teams on an uber fun run. Now, I don't let Roy loose when either I or Jason (our landlord with whom we share a dog lot) are going out with a team as Roy will give chase. I didn't think Jason was going out on a second run and hence, unhooked Roy from his post at the head of the yard. A few hours later, with Roy Boy still cruising around outside, Jason started hooking up his team. When you want/need to catch Roy, it's impossible. But as it happens, I completely forgot he was loose. Jason took off with Roy in hot pursuit. When I realized what had happened, I was immediately worried that Roy would get tired, fall behind and get lost. He didn't. Jason ran his B-string 22 miles and Roy kept up, even leading the charge at some points, for the entire run. He wasn't even sore or tired. Good boy, Roy. I expected Jason to be pissed when he got back, but said he actually liked having Roy running with him. No harm, no foul.
I've been pondering a lot lately. Pondering life. Pondering dogs. Pondering what the hell that smell is under the bed. So yeah, thinking about a little bit of everything, really.
I've come to some conclusions about life. Get your pens, folks, you'll want to remember this one.
Be happy.
That's it.
Just be happy.
I know, I know. You're asking yourselves why I don't write a self-help book. Well, I have. And here it is.
Be happy.
It's an easy read, really.
The point of this oh-so profound mantra is that while training has been going good, it's not been great. I lost faith in the dogs and they know it. It got to the point (this morning) where I had to say it out loud. 'This isn't fun.'
Running dogs, living off the grid, hauling water...well, I love it all. But the stress of trying to complete such a regimented training schedule, well, it's too much. For right now. Last winter was great as Rich and I weren't working (we had saved enough money from the summer) and just went out with the dogs. I didn't plan too much, we just mushed because it was fun. And when a race came along and the dogs looked good, we raced. I must interject here and say that even when we participate in 'races' we're not really 'racing.' Well, I'm not anyway. As my good pal Heidi said last night, it's more like 'competitive camping.'
I digress.
So this winter, I've been stressed about 'racing.' We can't afford it. And the thought of me being ready (mentally, dog-wise or financially) for Iditarod next year it just outrageous.
I'm not saying that Iditarod is not my ultimate goal. I know I'll get there at some point (the Serum Run, a non-competitive event that follows Iditarod trail, is also an option) but it's not going to be next year. I have received so much support since I started this silly blog and for that, I am grateful. But the dogs' happiness comes first. Like I said, I'll sign up for various races, but I need the pressure to be off for now.
I want to be confident and experienced and I want the dogs to work hard but enjoy it at the same time. I love running dogs. And I love sharing it with guests who come here for tours. So that's exactly what I'm going to do. Run dogs for the fun of it!
Patty and I hooked up two teams (all the dogs went out) today for a short fun run. I walked into the dog yard with renewed confidence and the dogs knew it immediately. They were screaming to go. I need the dogs to be happy and as of late, they've been stressed simply because I've been stressed. But today was great.
And I can't wait to go again tomorrow.

Patty with the second team. Old man Bull and Hazel in lead. The had a lot of fun playing 'Kill Patty.' On the home stretch, they cut a corner short at a full out lope and flung Patty into a tree. Though it was just a scratch on her nose, it bled like crazy. Man, I wish I had cool injuries like that. The worst I've gotten from mushing is bruises on my legs and low self-esteem.

Roy enjoying some light reading.

Our babes. Linus, on the right, and Audrey playing tug-o-war with a sock.


TerryLynnJohnson said...

So true. Be happy. Love it.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post. I could picture Roy throwing himself at the door. And I get that the dogs could sense your new aura. Well done.

Brenda's Arizona said...

I only know two things. One is that dogs sense everything about you. Two, life can be so difficult if we make it that way.

I am rejuvenated by your post - as much as ever, I have learned from you. And again tonite, reading this, I learn.

Stay true to your dogs - they do, to you!

dogsled_stacie said...

I admire you for being honest with yourself about not having fun running the dogs. I was there a few years ago (however, never had any inkling to do the 1000 milers!), and I realized I needed to just take it easy and go out when I wanted to go out with the dogs.

They didn't give a crap either way, I made sure to entertain and exercise them another way. And now we all get giddy and excited during and after a run, it's actually.... fun! And we're happy! Glad to see you in happy-land too! :)

gpc said...

You are so right. And celebrate the fact that you know what things you love. Most of the people I know (me, for instance) have no idea anymore what brings them joy. So embrace your mantra forever, have fun.

Don Cotogno said...

Jillian, Jillian, Jillian,
Don't be discouraged. Take it from someone who is old life is full of ups and downs. I fully agree, 'Be Happy', that's what it's all about! One ting to remember (from my father), "You can do or have anything you want, it's just a matter of priorities". Be aware of your priorities, stick/act on them and you WILL be happy!


Loon said...

Thank you, Jillian, for posting your thoughts. You have helped another musher who is struggling to have "fun" on the trail. I needed the reminder!

badyoga said...

Reading this has helped me.
Thanks for being so bare.

Ridd said...

It takes balls to post how you feel in a public place, but well done and just keep having fun ok.....

Still waiting for the spitfire stickers to arrive.....

Just enjoy winter, we may be in Homer later in the year.....if you and your Rich fancy a meet up and a scuttle full of beer!!