Jack London was my first literary crush. Not only was he an attractive man even by modern standards, he was a sailor, an activist, and he loved dogs. I never tire of his short stories on long winter’s nights.
Dog sledding, in particular captured my imagination. When I lived in Alaska, I was introduced to the reality of mushing sports. (Pictures taken by my sister, Andrea Hawthorne.) I learned that both Call of the Wild (where a mixed-breed arctic dog joins a wolf-pack) and White Fang (My favorite, in which a wolf tames itself through service as a sled dog into a devoted companion.) rely on truth as much as imagination to tell the stories.
Between Jack London and Alaskan life, I learned that arctic dogs have a mind, a wisdom, and an agenda all their own. They are neither the subservient dog-at-you-feet nor the wild-wolf-in-you-midst. Like Buck, they will always answer to something deep in themselves but like White Fang, they will partner with you, bond with you. And Like Bâtard, they take in the world on their own terms and learn their own lessons from it. They apply those lessons to new situations. You may not always understand why snow-dogs make the choices they do, but rest assured, there is a reason. Arctic dogs have an amazing capacity for reason.
While it’s too late to know Jack London save through his writing, it’s not too late to know the spirit of the dogs he often wrote about. My own pair of Finish Huskies, (AKA Tamaskan Dogs) teach me every day that above all, a pack should love challenge, exertion, and one another. Merry Christmas ~ Let’s MUSH!