“Puah, Puah, Hroom! Puah, Puah, Hroom!”
“What does Puah, Puah, Hroom mean Dad?”
“I don’t know, it’s just what came out.”
The icy river mercifully turned our bare feet numb as we crossed the longest of many shallow channels that wound their way through the glacial valley. We were near the completion of a three hour hike that had taken us within 300 yards of a family of grizzly bears, over a collection of arctic fox dens, and to the summit of a massive hill overlooking the serene savage river valley.
Earlier in the day we had hiked to horseshoe lake in search of a moose and her baby. We never found the moose, but we did find a system of three beautifully constructed beaver dams and a massive beaver lodge. Judging by the size of the tooth marks on the felled trees, these beavers must have been at least the size of a dog. The lake itself was not the only point of interest along the trail however.
About a mile up from the lake we ran across some people exploring the skeletal remains of a dead caribou. Denali has over 2,000 caribou in their herd. A number that is about to increase as it is now the beginning of calving season. Caribou are unique among dear in that the females of the species grow antlers like the males. In fact, some people confuse female caribou with males at certain times of the year because a pregnant female caribou will occasionally keep her antlers throughout the off season until her calf is born.
Caribou, wolves, moose, and bear are certainly the most impressive animals of Denali, but today I learned about an animal which is attributed with having the most impact on the development of Alaska of any species except for humans…
“The Earth split in two, and man and beast were separated by a profound abyss, in the great chaos of creation. Birds insects and four-legged creatures sought to save themselves in flight. All but the dog. He alone stood at the edge of the abyss, barking, howling, pleading.
The man, moved by compassion, cried, “Come!”, and the dog hurled himself across the chasm to join them. Two front paws caught the far edge. The dog certainly would have been lost forever had the man not caught him and saved his life.”
Alaskan huskies are not bred for consistent physical characteristics and do not all look the same. Instead they are bred for usefulness as work animals, with emphasis placed on traits such as strength, long legs, compact paws, temperament, and the willingness to work.
In a demonstration today, we learned about dogs and dog sleds, which are still actively used by Denali for winter patrols in areas where motorized vehicles are not allowed. The park keeps a kennel of about 30 dogs, all raised and trained at the park.
It was amazing to see the dogs in action as they pulled a sled on wheels around a long dirt road. Each dog is capable of pulling 100 pounds and travelling about 100 miles a day in ideal conditions. How awesome is it that God created an animal ideally suited to work with people in an environment like this, designed that animal to work well as part of a team, and gave that animal a natural inclination to want to be with humans.
My dad and I just talked about life purpose, ministry, and gifting. I wonder if the gifting that the L-rd has given me will make me equally suited to the task he has before me as the dogs are for the task set before them.