Present Dog

Present Dog

Torvi is the leader, but she doesn't recognize commands yet. Somehow, in training, it hasn't worked out, probably because no dog in the team really reads them and there's no one to learn from. Tomi relies on guesswork, Trond seems to understand, but he's hesitant, while Skudra is always engrossed in her own world to even listen.

So we ride, Torvi and Tomi in the lead, Trond with Skudra in the back. We head out onto the lake, and I consider sticking to it—a planned warm-up run since we haven't trained for over a month—due to the extensive journey to the north; I couldn't gather myself even for short rides. Of course, adjustments are needed for snow and temperature combinations, but here, you can ride in any direction every day.

We slide across the lake, and looking at the map again, I realize we're on the Kungsleden trail, following last year's route south. At the lakeshore, the team doesn't listen to "left," so I decide to follow the dogs and head up into the mountains.

It's beautiful. Centuries-old vegetation frozen in wintry stiffness, occasional stones adorning the roadside. The pace picks up, egged on by a fox, prompting the dogs despite the moderate climb.

Gradually, my stress starts to ease, along with the worries about household arrangements, as my head is filled with thoughts about leaving home, the journey, and settling in a new place. I'll be here for two more months. Kvikkjokk is a tiny village at the end of the road, nestled by the mountains. Very sparsely populated—Wikipedia cites 100 inhabitants, but I'd estimate even fewer. Most houses are vacation homes and mostly remain empty. There's neither a shop nor a gas station; the only communal place is Kvikkjokk Fjallstation, a small hostel with food—a stop for travelers on the Kungsleden trail. Due to pandemic conditions, even that is closed until March. The nearest city—Jokkmokk—is 120 km away, somewhat similar in scale to my hometown. Hence, everything needs careful planning compared to Lauziņas, where stores in Cēsis or Skujene are relatively close, and the weather isn't as severe. The only thing not causing worry here is the condition of the roads; they are always well maintained, and there's no concern about being cut off from the outside world.Es pilnīgi jūtu kā suņi kāri lok auksto gaisu. Par Skudra nav savā elementā ar ļengano striķi, tas ir novilkts kā stīga— acīmredzot zvērs ir izvēlīgs pret braukšanas stilu.

On one of the steep climbs, I cut a corner and hear an audible click on my knee. It's the moment when I regain 100% alertness. Regardless of how things proceed, I'll be in this moment, the place where I bid farewell and where my dog helps me return. The pain isn't severe; I can bend it at a right angle, ensuring the journey continues. Just no side loads; the leg must be straight.

We're already on the mountain plateau, feeling the climatic changes; the air is slightly thinner and windier here. Soon, I listen to the dogs again, and we make a U-turn on the snowmobile's track.

The magic hat I borrowed from Ario has seen the entire Norwegian mountain range.

The descent, effortless for me, seems taxing for the dogs. We pause for a tea break, rejuvenating momentarily. The thermometer reads a chilling -17°C today.

Back at the lake, another fumbled attempt at following commands, and soon we're homeward bound.

Next time, I resolve to trust Torvi with sole leadership rather than pairing her with Tomi. Her growing confidence merits more faith and autonomy.

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