A sled dog presentation? I had to be there.
Denali National Park employs Alaskan huskies to patrol the Park in the winter. Unlike snow mobiles, airplanes, and other heavy equipment, dogs don’t break down, or freeze up, or need hard-to-find parts. Just feed ‘em well, treat ‘em right, and they’ll get you where you need to go.
Indeed, the dogs – with their keen sense of smell, sharp eyes, knowledge of the terrain, wisdom, and amazing intuition – actively help the rangers by avoiding treacherous ice buried beneath the snow, finding remote cabins in impossible white-out conditions, and alerting them to all manner of danger.
Machines can’t do any of that.
It reminded me of a hike that Martin and I once took with our golden retriever Holly. In the mountains of Arizona, we had hiked a four-mile loop trail through an open forest. Returning a month or so later, we decided to hike in the opposite direction. Halfway along the trail, it began to snow, heavily enough that the trail became obscured, completely covered in snow. The forest was open enough that we couldn’t easily discern the path through the trees. There were blazes on the trees, but they were far enough apart that we couldn’t see from one to the next.
We found ourselves casting about, wandering through the snow, looking for the blazes – and always Holly was waaaay over there, waiting for us. We’d call her; she wouldn’t budge. We’d tromp over to grab her – and a blaze would be above her. She was squarely on the trail. That happened several times – we’d lose our way, wander around looking for blazes, become frustrated that Holly was so far from us, then discover she was on the trail – and finally we just followed the dog. She led us unerringly back to the trailhead, in the snow, down a trail she had been on only once before a month prior, in the opposite direction.
I love dogs.Continue reading