Yukon Sled Dogs Up Close and Friendly
“The sled dogs are all friendly” the towering, young Swiss staff member offered with utmost confidence.
Our field of view is a foreground of vigilant sled dogs against a snow dusted mountain backdrop. An atypical yard for dogs, well over 120 in number, all within mere inches of each other by chain. That is dense dog living. Close quarters communing. Considering the famed strong-willed personalities of sled dogs, it sounds and looks like a canine war zone. And this man is telling me that every one of them is friendly with such resolve that a challenge to test his proclamation is on.
Surprisingly, harmony, more or less, prevails over the dog yard. Only a few are curled inside their just big enough dog houses, heads protruding, keeping a wary eye on potential action. Alert to any sign of potential action, poised to spring, if only to the end of their chain tethers. Almost as intimidating is the vocalization of barking, whining and howling. Then, as if the choirmaster has motioned silence, the chorus subsides with a few off-key renditions. Most dogs are sitting on their homes, pacing their allotted space, or making deep circles around their allotment. All are ready for any indication that action in the form of running, chasing, or exercise in general, is about to happen. It is the calm before the hiatus, an opportune time to get to know these indefatigable canines.
After a month of Yukon rain the muddy mire that the dogs are living in gleams with stickiness. “Some may jump up on you” he cautiously warns. Images of gooey, sticky, brown muck pawing all over me clouded my dog loving brain. Momentarily the conflict is overcome. If that is all I have to fear then life is good as they say. Bracing for the inevitable gritty encounters, the only way to experience gregarious personalities of Yukon sled dogs is to embrace it up close. Even if it involves a face freckled with mud splatters.