But resting early and anticipating your dogs’ needs is even more important: it builds trust. A sled dog learns that by the time he is hungry his musher has already prepared a meal. When she is tired, she has a warm bed. When she is cold you have a coat or blanket for her; If she’s thirsty, you have water. And it is this security, this trust that allows them to flow into the journey, which gives the trace everything it has without worrying about what’s next. You can’t run a sled dog 100 miles. But when she knows you have her back, she runs because she wants, because she burns, and she brings you on the ride.
For humans, this means to us that we cannot simply plan to take care of ourselves later. We shouldn’t expect to catch up on sleep when we really break down or turn to loved ones after being struck by loneliness. We should ask for support before we need it. We should support others before they ask. Because if you don’t know how far you are going, you have to act like you are going forever.
Planning forever is essentially impossible, which can actually be liberating: it brings you back to the present. How long will this pandemic last? At the moment that is irrelevant. What matters is having a nutritious meal, telling someone you love them, walking your dog, and getting enough sleep. What matters is that you make your own life sustainable every day as much as you can.
Sled dogs can run farther in less time than almost any other animal. But they only think as far ahead as they can see, hear and smell. They smell like a deer; You will see a curve in the track. It’s that simple. When the team faces an unexpected challenge, when it comes to a steep mountain, or when it comes to shelter in a storm, it is better for them to be restrained. Because they are healthy and content; They have what they need and they have each other. There is no better way to meet the unknown.
Blair Braverman is the author of “Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube: Chase Scare and Make Home in the Great White North”.