When we went on a dog-sled excursion through the mountains of Skagway, the mushers explained to us the extensive training and endurance these dogs are put through before they can run the 9-day-long races in Alaska and Canada. A good temperament, strength, an athletic physique, intelligence, and a hardy appetite are essential.
The musher is the dog trainer, the one to raise the dog and the one who races the dog, if only in small races. Our musher explained about the strength of these animals. For one thing, they are not pure bred Alaskan Huskies that are commonly featured in movies or television programs. The sled dogs who possess the most strength, endurance, and good joint health are mutts. They are usually a mix of a couple of breeds including the Siberian Huskie, the strong Eurohound, the Pointer and the Labrador.
One of the most important characteristics needed in a sled dog is his ability to pull. Our musher explained that this is an innate trait in dogs until we domesticate them. We teach them to NOT PULL.
|Sled Dogs have a loping motion as they initially pull|
This narrative reminded me of what our 5-month-old Chippy Dog was like. He was a puppy with the legs of a husky and the strength to pull. One night, Hubby and I were taking Chip for a walk around the neighborhood. Even as a pup, our dog was straining against the leash for most of the walk.
It was obvious we had no control over our newly adopted mutt. As we rounded the corner, we saw a neighbor walking their dog–a Dachshund. I cautioned Hubby to pull Chip to the other side of the street. Quickly. To no avail. Chip saw the dog that could be his next friend or enemy. Chip lurched and Hubby pulled against our puppy’s strength with all of his might. Now, Hubby is no big brute but he certainly can control a dog. We narrowly averted a major run-in with our neighbor’s pet.
When we caught our breath, we remarked to each other about this dog’s strength. We knew we needed a trainer immediately to help us tame this adorable, yet strong dog.
So while the musher was talking, my mind was spinning thoughts. Chip has the strong legs of a Huskie (when his foot lands on yours, you feel it). According to the Humane society one of the mixes in his stately background is Huskie. Another is Chow (the double coat of fur would be good in the snow). And the other is Golden Retriever (that’s what makes him so sweet).
|Chip, Our Wonder Dog|
What if we had allowed him to continue pulling? Would he have been sled dog material? Would he have had the endurance? No question about the appetite, which requires sled dogs to eat 10,000 calories a day while running the race. (Doesn’t that sound scrumptious?) Chip loves his dog food.
As I thought more about this concept once we returned home (and I continued calling Chip my sled dog) I realized that sled dogs and Chip, the family dog, have a trait in common. They both can pull hard and pull more than their weight. But the key is that their pulling is “power under restraint.” Sled dogs pull with athletic ability and strong muscles but they must be trained and surrender to the guidance of the musher. Or you have a team of dogs pulling in every direction (as we did the day of our ride). In the same way, Chip still has the power to pull that he was born with. However, he has learned (intelligent dog) to not strain against the leash but to walk at his owner’s heel.
Aren’t we the same way with the Lord? We have numerous abilities, strengths, intelligence, and power to operate independently. However, if we are Christians straining against the love and requirements of our Lord, then we are pulling every which way and getting no place.
Did you notice that the sled dogs wear harnesses and are tethered to the team’s center line? That power needs to be under restraint.
It reminds me of a Scripture that often applies to me when I get the lines tangled on my Christian walk or when I decide to do something in my own power apart from the Lord.
” Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.” Psalm 32:9 NLT”
We need to train ourselves through prayer and reading God’s word to have that self-power under control. The Holy Spirit, who lives within us, will also give us the grace to be self-controlled.
|A Break at Last|
Have a blessed week..