Seeley Lake Elementary FUN!

Monday, February 03 took Roy Etnire one of our local mushers and me along with Willow and Paula (the dogs) to the Seeley Lake Elementary School. At a little below zero thoughts of having us outside got re-thought and we got switched to the gym. Got there early in the morning to do a demo for all 150 school kids. Oh jeez, all those kids and its what time? I didn’t even have time to get a coffee and for those of you who know me, know that I don’t do very well in the AM, with or without a coffee!  BUT I got my wits about me to help out Roy and talk about Montana’s Race to the Sky.

We had the whole school in the gym, which are grades Pre-school- 8 grade. Thank you to the Principal, Dan Schrock for allowing us to do this presentation for the kids. We brought in a sled—the actual one Roy uses for racing, a gangline, snow hook, cooker, some harnesses and some booties. He also had “big grey” as I will call it—his heavy winter parka. Along with his wolf fur hat.

Roy started by asking who had dogs and, of course, almost every hand went up. He talked about dog care and the special dog care that sled dogs need. Then he talked about the booties and what purpose they serve for the dogs and threw out a bunch into the crowd of kids. You can just imagine how that went!! Hands in the air all hoping to get to see and feel a mushing dog’s bootie! You would have thought $20 bills were flying through the air. Pretty funny. Meanwhile all the kids are asking great questions about the sport of dog-mushing. Funny how a bunch of school kids can be enthralled with what someone has to say to them, especially this age group. I am a big fan of visual aides and we had them to show. Roy talked about each piece of equipment, what it does and it’s importance to mushing.

Then came in the true show-stoppers, the dogs. Willow and Paula (isn’t Paula the chick who cuts my hair?). Both of these dogs are female and 9 years old, so they are the old girls of Roy’s dogs. Once they came in the gym, you heard a collective “oh” from all the kids. A lot of sled-dogs are very shy by nature and Willow and Paula were no exception. They hugged Roy and would have climbed into him if they could. Once they were in the gym and getting lovies from Roy, they calmed down and started sniffing the air like dogs do and started to look around. Even the pre-schoolers who are very antsy by nature were staring at these beautiful dogs.

After about 45 minutes or so, everything talked about and lots of questions answered, off they went to lunch. A group of 6th graders and their teacher stayed behind and asked Roy some more questions right by the sled. He talked about how during the Eagle Cap Race which just was a few weeks ago, Chatty Cathy had pulled her shoulder muscle and had to be put in his sled bag until she could be looked at at the next check point. She had fallen asleep and he never heard a dog SNORE so loud! Those of us with dogs know they do that and can really cut some wood. I guess she lived up to her name!

All in all it was a good time, well ok, maybe not for the dogs as much, but the kids and they got a little more educated about sled-dogging. I even learned a few things I didn’t know about harnesses! So yepper everyone can come away with having learned something new. Never to old, right?

C.J.