Do you love dogs? Do you call yourself a dog lover? Then check out Winterdance by Gary Paulson. He tells a magnificent story about him and his dogs as they prepare for the Iditarod that takes place in Alaska. The way Gary describes his experience of the Iditarod is breath-taking. It makes you wonder about and appreciate the connection these men and women have with their dogs. Gary Paulsen helps people understand that this race takes skill, determination, courage, and knowledge of both the dogs and the outdoors. His story reflects on all the months and even years of training and preparing for this event. The terrain the Iditarod crosses are mountain ranges, frozen rivers, dense forests, desolate tundra and windswept coastline. The obstacles that you face often kill people and dogs, watch out for Moose, sliding ice, steep drop offs, sinkholes, wind, and frostbite. I can't imagine what people go through during the race and why they have the guts to do it multiple times just for the fun of it. It is hard to imagine all the dedication and work that is put into just one race. When you are reading this book, you will stop and say to yourself, “this can’t be true, how is this possible, do people actually do this?” I know that while I was reading, these thoughts were going through my head and while I continued on, I just couldn’t believe that this was real. What I couldn't understand was that, I love dogs, but why would I put myself and my dogs in that kind of danger. What kind of dog lover would do that? Then, I realized, I didn’t know dogs as well as I thought I did. To you Gary might seem like a crazy man for doing the Iditarod 3 times, but I can relate, being a dog lover and an athlete. I know how it feels. You always want to try your hardest to win and if you don't, at least you know that you tried your hardest to get to this position that you are in. You keep practicing and pushing yourself to be better next year. Gary keeps coming back for the fun and joy that it brings to him and the dogs. As a dog lover, when you are with your dogs, your whole mentality changes. Just being in a sport with the animals that you call family is a bonus all in itself. It makes you happy to see your dogs, your family happy and having fun. Also, being with them every day, in the wilderness, in a race, brings you closer. You know how to make them happy, what makes them happy, what their happy face is, when they want to keep going or when they want to stop. And that is the best bond that any human and dog relationship can have.
Winterdance by Gary Paulsen
July 30, 2012