Harm looking back

Harm wrote this particular post almost a year ago, right after I completed the 2010 Iditarod and began work on my novel Ballad of the Northland–the book has been finished for months, but I thought I would share this story again here because we have a whole bunch of new friends, fans, and supporters who have joined this blog since the piece was originally written and I couldn’t resist the temptation to share with all of them.

Post by Harmony Barron

Although both Jason and I have been involved with sled dogs for what seems like forever, we started our own kennel together, ‘Kanabear Enterprises’ in April of 2000, making this spring our ten year anniversary.

We moved on to our little piece of paradise, sitting outside of Lincoln Montana, with a pickup truck full of our possessions, two pet dogs, a horse named Piper and a dream bigger then the famous Montana skies. Early that summer we installed beautiful puppy pens built from peeled posts we harvested off our land, with two foot deep trenches dug all the way around the perimeters, and filled with layers of the biggest rocks we could carry to hold down the welded wire sides. The pens were soon filled with a flurry of activity, puppies born from bitches we acquired from Jason’s dad and Ross Saunderson, sired by Swingley’s famous lead dog Peppy. We used more peeled posts for the picketed lot, and set newly built pristine wooden dog houses by each one, not a single pee stain or chew mark among them. By late in the fall, our dream was well under way, with a dog at every dwelling, leaping and vying for our attention… And that was the birth of our kennel.

Ten years filled to the top with amazing experiences, both good and bad. Races won, races lost. During our time here in Montana, and all through our mushing adventures, we have had the honor and privilege of befriending some truly wonderful people. With a lot of them joining our team and sharing with us our highs and lows. Like most mushers, racing has just been a way to continue our doggie life style, and a way to make ‘mushing’ a career, and not just a beloved hobby. It has been a great way for us to test our dogs against the best sled dogs in the world and an excuse for all of us mushers from different walks of life, to all get together and share with one another our stories and visions.

And then there are the group of people, the largest by far, that make our unique sled dog races possible; the race volunteers and the mushing FANS!

Without all of you, the art of competitive dog mushing would have never grown into what it is today. We have raced our dogs all across the lower forty-eight and all through the vast country of Alaska, and have forever been in awe of the people behind the scenes. Everybody from those directly involved in putting the race on, to those who help out in subtler ways; opening gates, standing at road crossings (in the frigid cold, sometimes all night long), cooking for the mushers, the list goes on and on. And the fans, they come out in throngs, just to cheer on the dogs and their drivers. The people, that’s what it’s all about. People from all over the world, who all fell in love with the world of dog mushing through different measures, a spaghetti of paths, all revolving around a single nucleus; The dog. The relationship between musher and dog. A deep passion lies here, and for those who’s paths don’t put them directly on the back of a dog team, express their feelings through different veins. Volunteering for dog mushing events, or simply validating and encouraging the adventurers themselves. All of you fans and volunteers travel countless miles through the grips of winter, just to be a part of dog mushing. To feel the hand of Jack London, patting you on the shoulder. To look up into the starry sky and see the twinkle in Joe Redinton’s eyes. To hear Susan Butcher’s soothing voice ripple though the wind, thanking you for being a part of her legacy, her world.

It is now, at our kennel’s ten year mark, that our path slightly changes its course. For the next year or so, we will spend a little less time winding our way down icy sloughs, or cresting snow covered mountain tops, and spend a little more time writing and painting such inspiring tales. Jason’s up-coming novel, Ballad of the Northland, will be a true tribute to dog mushing. This story has been haunting his soul for many a long year, lurking on the sidelines, just waiting to be told. We felt now was a good time to put our mushing aspirations aside for a while, and let his story take true form. This novel, this tale of a young man who’s story is told through a cold winter’s song, is his gift to all the people who have given to us. For each and every one of you who loves adventure, who loves the North, and who loves the bold and powerful yet sensitive and vulnerable, unassuming sled dog.

Thanks for tuning in–more to follow….

Image & story courtesy of H. Barron
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6 Responses to “Harm looking back”

  1. Marlene Phillips-Daniels Reply March 25, 2011 at 09:49

    Harmony, This is truly wonderful. I’m glad you two are in Montana, whether it’s writing, painting, mushing or riding horses.

  2. Jason and Harmony:
    What a beautiful pair the two of you make! I hope that someday our paths cross. Thank you both for sharing your world with us.

  3. Thank you both for your truly kind words 🙂 We do love Montana Marlene, and Margie, I’m certain our paths will cross some day! I hope you both have a wonderful week-end.

  4. Very well written!

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