The smells of the dog yard are setting in my skin;
Fish and kibble and raw meat watered thin.
Been ten days since I’ve showered,
Clean clothes now a fading luxury.
The soles of my shoes are covered in hues of dog poop
The likes you hopefully won’t ever get to see.
Now these things are easy to highlight
Being a brand new dog handler.
They mark the surface change from what you are
To what you once were.
But what you once were doesn’t matter
Because now there are dogs to run.
There are dogs to feed and puppies to train
And mushers to be learning from.
And if you can know this each moment,
Even when your brain sponge is saturated,
Concepts learned with more than a little delay,
You may see more than dirt,
More than soot, more than stink.
You may see that dog handling
Requires more than you think.
Learning and learning and learning some more
This is the new dog handler’s initial chore.
Learn each dogs names and ages,
Each one’s spot in the yard.
Which ones chew, which ones spew,
How to keep their poop hard.
Along with dogs learn the mushers,
How they work, how they think.
You’ll be spending all winter together
So best fall into sync.
Learn your surroundings,
The roads and trails that you run.
These are your paths both for work and for fun.
No day is the same from beginning to end,
Any new rule you learn, you must be ready later to bend.
For anything can happen when thirteen dogs
Are clipped to one line,
And you must always be learning those trotting behinds.
And at the end of the day
When you’re tired and sore,
Just relax, fill your beer mug,
And gear up for more.
For this is not work that you ‘finish’
Like a job from 9-5.
No, this is work that is simply living,
The best kind of work on which we here thrive.