Stepping to the front by Michael Marx

    My name is Nugget and I’m a sled dog.

    “OK, Nugget. It looks like you get to lead the team now.”

    The musher’s words made little sense to me. Yet when the lead dog got a tummy ache, it became clear that she would run in the middle and I would run in the front.

    I had only been put in the lead position once before. I did not like it. Me being the lead dog did not go well. There was no dog ahead of me to follow. I did not know how to keep the gang line straight. I kept looking backward to the middle of the team where I belonged. When it was time to go, I just sat down and refused. Nope, I’m not a lead dog. Not gonna do it.

    Hmm, this time is different. Only five dogs on the team today. I am in front. No neck line. Just a tug line. Everyone is depending on me to pull the team, to keep things straight, to lead the pack. It is paramount for the lead dog to “tow the line.” Hmm. What if I’m given a command like “gee” or “haw”? I’m not totally sure which way is right and which is left. Maybe I should pretend to have a tummy ache.

    “Ready, let’s go.” That’s the command to start. Reflexively I lunge forward. To my surprise, everyone follows. I pull. I follow the trail, the beaten path. I’ve been this way before. I know it. I can do this. We run at a slow, yet steady pace. After a little while, I’ve led the team back to the dog truck. Yay! I did it. The musher is very happy with me. I’m happy with me. Whew! I just don’t want to do this every time.

    Paws to consider: Are you ready to step forward when needed?

    Are you afraid of:
    • forgetting the way?
    • failing the boss?
    • falling down?

    Well, you know if you fall, fall forward; at least you’re making progress.

    What will you do when it’s up to you to lead?

    About Nugget: Nugget is a white furred Alaskan husky with one bent ear. She loves to pull with her sister, Poke. They were named after a gold theme. She has run in the Alaskan interior, the Herbert Glacier and now the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.


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