I expect the next few weeks will see quite a few posts here with a 'tail' or two attached. If you are not interested in horses and mules or in dogs or maybe in Alaska, you might take a sabbatical! I've got a second piece turned in to Mules and More magazine--it will likely be published in 2-3 months but I will probably not know until it lands in my mailbox. Also, I will be backtracking through my scanned pictures to my cowboy girl days and remembering some of the critters than played major parts in my life for about fifteen years there.
Then there is this project that more or less burst out of the dim recesses of memory, sub-conscious and fate to virtually take over my life. Right now it is in a very fluid and formative stage and I am not ready to say a lot more until I have some approvals and maybe support lined up but suffice to say it has to do with mushing, Alaska and writing. I will share more, a lot more, as soon as I am sure it is going to go forward. Once I shake loose and shout that first, "hike, hike" (they actually do not say "Mush, huskies" these days I gather!), you will probably be hearing about it until you are ready to shriek,"Enough, already!"
Short and sweet--the race is over and three female rookies were the last ones in yesterday afternoon. The big award ceremony will be held this evening, Alaska time, and it will be in the books for another season, the forty-second as it were. There has been some negative publicity and brouhaha about one musher who claimed the committee in effect abandoned him and his team in dire straits. I do not buy it and posted a snarky comment in the forum at the Iditarod site. None of that will cloud my enthusiasm and support at all. 99.9% of the contestants have nothing but good to say about the organizers, volunteers and staff working in the background. All who finished a very tough race are heroes in my estimate and even most of those who dropped out due to injuries or concern for their teams. In view of the difficulties and danger in this particular race, they were probably prudent. There is the old adage of living to fight another day. No mushers and no dogs died, despite some huge challenges.
I know even some of my close friends feel this event is cruel to the dogs. Yes, in ways it is harsh and taxing but I am convinced the animals love it and this is what they are bred and trained to do. If they do not love it, they will never get to the point of actual competition. Pups that don't show the real drive are given or sold to pet homes--just like those of various breeds who fall short of the skills to compete in herding or agility or the looks to be examples of the breed. They will still be loved and have good homes but just not out there. It is analogous to many of us who cannot be top athletes, rock stars or whatever. Is it 'cruel' for young athletes to train fiercely for say the Olympics? In some cases where maybe parents or others push them too far, perhaps but normally, I do not believe it is.
I expect my understanding of the dynamic here comes from the many miles I put in on the back of a horse or mule and the connection and teamwork I learned in those joint efforts. I formed a bond as strong as a blood tie or a deep love with those animals because we relied on each other to get off that mountain in the dark or make it through a really long, hard day of travel to accomplish a task such as teaching a wild colt to lead or gathering cattle out of thick brush in rough country. The connection of the mushers with their teams is the same. You can see the mutual love in some of the photos. It's not faked just for the camera--the dogs would give the ruse away because animals are 100% honest and have no idea of playing to the crowd. Some are hams, yes, and you can tell they eat up the attention but when it comes to their guy or gal--it's genuine as anything gets. I have yet to see a dog cowering and cringing in any of the hundreds of photos taken in this and prior Iditarod races. You cannot buy that love with treats and baby talk; it has to be real because of this life sustaining bond that grows though mutual reliance and trust.
I'd love to share some of those photos but they are not mine and I believe that copyright laws are just and needed and do not violate them lightly. So all I can offer is one of mine with one of the mules from the past--I still feel the link whether is shows in the photo or not. Probably an apple core for Louie after we'd shared a lunch break.I expect we had been working cattle with Charley Bryant.
Welcome to my World
Welcome to the domain different--to paraphrase from New Mexico's capital city of Santa Fe which bills itself "The City Different." Perhaps this space is not completely unique but my world shapes what I write as well as many other facets of my life. The four Ds figure prominently but there are many other things as well. Here you will learn what makes me tick, what thrills and inspires me, experiences that impact my life and many other antidotes, vignettes and journal notes that set the paradigm for Dierdre O'Dare and her alter ego Gwynn Morgan and the fiction and poetry they write. I sell nothing here--just share with friends and others who may wander in. There will be pictures, poems, observations, rants on occasion and sometimes even jokes. Welcome to our world!