Today, one of my best friends is starting a new life, and it will be a long time before eye see him again. As may have been implied in past posts, my agouti Alasan Husky, Tradition is migrating north to live with an old pack. His howls are for K9 kin, and he would not thrive where eye am going next, the deep Amazon and the emerald islands of the Caribbean. It is usual reform that he returns north for a winter of training, mushing, and trail running, with his tribe of Siberians, Malemutes and nearly thirty other Alaskan huskies, but this time he shall be staying.
Over the two years that Tradition has made his stead with me, at the great hall of Othala, he has been on more adventures than any dog eye know, and certainly more than any in the community. He has been to two rainbow gatherings, a folk festival, the fjords of Saguenay in Quebec, atlantic beaches throughout the maritimes, countless road trips to far flung places in New Brunswick, and Cape Breton, the hills and gulleys of Skedaddle ridge, the waterfalls of the St. John valley, to Fredericton and back on the norm, and just about every major river in the province. He outran me when he was four months old, and pulled on a sled with five other dogs on an eight-mile run, just days after his first birthday. He has learned to hunt squirrels, mice, and fledge out the bush grouse on our autumn walks in the forest.
He is the only husky eye have known to not bark, growl or bite and he chooses affection over violence with other dogs and his human tribe. We have kindled like branded brothers together, and initiated a whole saga of memories, lessons end mythic experiences together. This post is a testament to the dog eye have always loved, and with great sadness have come to terms with the great sacrifice of letting him be free.
When he was young eye sarcastically referred to him as the Fenris wolf. As a pup he would munch on anything he found, one day ruining my entire altar, a picture of my three times great grandmother, sacred animal pelts, leather, pendants, the very beams of my hall stripped of their cedar bark. His appetite for destruction was insatiable. It took months of these repeated experiences until eye lost trust in him and he would need to be confined to his own room while eye was out from the cabin. This was never something eye wanted to do, and never has he stayed in a crate on my agenda, but he did not like his room, his separation anxiety was intense, and eye missed him everytime eye left for work. Slowly eye weaned him out of this place, and let him stay in the hall, among all the precious wares of the homestead, knowing it may be a grave mistake. Fortunately, he surprised me and very little went out of order. Finally we had a working relationship where eye could maintain a living while being out of the homestead and he could work off his energy in the forest when eye came home. A small investment in an invisible fence changed everything. Suddenly eye come operate the radio frequency module off of the solar system, and he could wear an additional collar and explore the land at any time. He still slept inside however as by then the solar output was switched off, and there were porcupines and skunks afoot.
Life was handsome, eye could leave the land on my motorbike and make a round trip to Florenceville, Hartland or Woodstock for provisions, and have Tradition guard the land. When eye roared down the driveway, he would be there to greet me. Eventually eye increased the distance, going as far as Fredericton for a night, and leaving him plenty of meat, fat, water and his favorite brand of dog food, half of it would still be there when eye came home. Unfortunately for a couple times he would take advantage of this system, and force his way off the land, tormenting the local chickens, goats, and rabbits, but only once inflicting any real harm. Still my trust in him was cut, and it became harder to tend to his needs as a professionally bred working and racing husky.
He has become far too big for the saddlebags of my motorcycle, but it was around this time in the spring of the year when eye met a lovely lady with her own furry companion. We traveled extensively together with the two dogs, to Cape North and back, and every hiking trail, waterfall and swimming hole we could think of within a couple hours radius of our homes. His new friend Winston suddenly usurped the role of his best friend, and although they had a rather unorthodox bond, they were a good match. Eye remember losing tradition at Dunbar falls for nearly an hour, and another time on the coast of Black Beach at Musquash Bay, with miles of intermingling trails. He was found by some tourists, and they returned him to us. Another harrowing time came in a sugarbush eye used to work at, where we followed a trail for over an hour to a raging waterfall that poured through a micro-canyon. Tradition slipped on a mossy boulder and fell into the surge. Fortunately he was a great swimmer by then and paddle his way to the edge of the floe before plummeting off the precipice into white water and a sharp landing. Eye thought eye might be couchbound and healing after that day.
Tradition has always been loved by everyone he has met, and even after becoming angry or annoyed with him, eye would never forget to amend my words with ‘I Love You’, to let him know that eye still accepted him for who he was. Two years in residence, off grid in a forest cabin, with an extremely energy rich dog probably taught me more about my life, than eye managed to contribute to his. From the onset, bringing such an animal into my life was a life experiment, and a constant meditation of the positives and negatives of tending to such a needy being, including what it might be like to have children. He has been fundamental in me getting to know a life from his first days on earth, and seeing his maturity unfurl with all the challenges and tests that has come with. As eye sit with the accumulated wisdoms and stark realities of living with a dog that is as much wild animal as that visits my cabin, eye realized that he could yet have a more meaningful life beyond this place. When the snows came down and winter ushered in the new season, eye sat with this stark decision to be made, and did my best to keep my composure as the answer settled on me.
For eye am still a traveler, a nomad of winter, and need to continue to see the world and explore this planet, unbound to routine, totally free. It would completely unfair to drag an arctic dog around with me, on airplanes, trains, buses and boats, not to mention almost logistically impossible and expensive, to foreign lands that he is not adapted to. He then becomes a liability and a burden instead of the fulfilling the dog he is born to be. My land is small, and my abilities to run and exhaust Tradition off leash are limited. He refuses to walk off leash and prefers to torment the local farm animals. He crocks his head and moans every time he hears the howl of the pack of the forest denizens beyond this land. And eye simply do not have a pack of sled-dogs for him to run with daily, or groomed trails and carts for the summer season. When he does not run, he becomes restless and bored, and when he is bored, let’s just say he is not his usual self. Eye love him too much for his life to be compromised, and would rather he live in his full potential, so it was not without great sadness that eye chose for him to return to the trail and the team of dogs into which he was born.
Eye will still have access to him in the future, and the compass points north, but eye have already started to settle into the grieving process which will soon turn into renewed happiness. For eye know that he is fated to run with the pack, and no matter how fair a rustic homestead of the woods he has, he needs to work. Luckily, eye know an employer. It is here, hopefully he will live out the rest of his mushing and racing career, with a brother of mine who knows far more than eye do, and is well equipped to handle dogs of his caliber. So this is to honor tradition, and to celebrate Tradition. A King to his own kind, a lover of the trail, and my best friend.