Don’t ask me why, but my grade school from little Papillion, Nebraska was obsessed with the Iditarod. Each student would choose three mushers to follow throughout the race, cheering them on from our computer lab as we tracked their progress online. My mushers were never in the lead, but it was captivating to imagine what the race was like. My childish mind couldn’t help but imagine Balto leading the sleds as these people traveled across Alaska.
Then for whatever reason (probably because Nebraska is quite distant from the race) the Iditarod was never mentioned again as a I grew up. As life took over, the race slipped from my mind and I hadn’t thought about it for a long time. Being here in Alaska though has brought these fun memories back, front and center of my mind.
And yesterday a childhood dream came true: I actually got the chance to ride behind the dogs.
It was exhilarating, and it wasn’t even a real ride; just for practice and exercise for the dogs. While they got hooked up to the giant harness/rope, Claire and I climbed into the back of a four-wheeler that the dogs were attached too. To my surprise, this is a pretty normal method of practice. The true sled is only meant for trails and snow, so in the summer time four-wheelers act as substitutes. We did only a short loop around town, but it was crazy awesome.
And the dogs were SO excited to get out on a run. It was infectious. Once they understood what was happening, they couldn’t help but run, jump, bark and share their favorite thing in the world with us. They were the definition of the phrase, “so excited that you can’t contain it.”
I’m literally so thankful that I got to experience it. As a bit of a last minute plan, I didn’t even know what exactly was happening. I was in charge of shooting B-roll, but I thought we were just going to see the dogs; I had no idea we were actually going on a practice run. Those dogs brought me back in time to those childish fantasies that rarely have the opportunity to become reality. It was absolutely perfect.