In the good old days, most people were slim and trim and in reasonably good health. Then along came good old Bombardier and Mercury who introduced the effortless mode of transportation: skidoos and outboard motors. This changed the lifestyle of many a northerner and young fold these days probably have never been on a dog team. Aahhh. The fine whine of a dog out back sure beats the roar of a four-forty all night by marauding teenagers looking for a good time. Although I remember many a fine moonlit night cruising for chicks in my twin cylinder élan; up and down, up and down the main road I’d go. These days you have to wear helmets and you’re really not quite sure who’s underneath that black shiny helmet when they ask if you want a ride. I’ll have to admit it seemed a lot colder in the old days, too.
When dog teams were used, a different lifestyle was set in place. Feed the dogs once in a while during the summer using kakeyakow and cod mixed with oats by the gallon and served slop-over by the woodpile out back while readying them for winter by keeping them lean and mean. When the bitch was in heat, tie her out to attract wolves to get that extra chromosome of wilderness and ferocity was normal. Most dogs these days won’t pass for huskies, too much outside influence from collies, chows, St.Bernards, and what have you, watering down the great husky lineage that goes back to the last ice age.
Explorers found dogs from Inukjuak to be especially durable and were used to go the both poles way back when getting there first was more important than having babies and carrying on your own lineage. Many a time was spent deliberating whether to lighten the load of equipment or eat a dog in the fierce sub-zero blizzards, which happened quite often. These days, we’d probably freeze to death trying to gnaw a piece off the carburetor. Yep, them a days were tough and these days we’re not.
We’ve turned into a bunch of couch potatoes whose main action is to get up and change the channel or look for the remote when it’s not nearby. The only ones using dog teams theses days are adventurous tourists who come by and we gawk at them in wonder, trying hard to comprehend why someone would actually try to get about in that fashion. Times have changed my friends, when Pokemon games capitalize the TV set and catching the Stanley Cup finals means coming back to town every night from your camp driving top speed in your four-forty.
Maybe we should change back to the old lifestyles, maybe times were hard in the old days, but heck, we got satellite TV and generators, man. It means we don’t have to drive back to town anymore to catch the finals. Get with the game, man.
As for staying in shape, try paddling or walking for a change, and feel some ache and pain, and try to imagine our ancestors doing all their physical wonders that would put an Olympic athlete in the hospital from sheer exhaustion. Go for a walk, get fit enough not to wheeze in the first mile or whine for a chair or rest. One year, I went walking with a man who was older than my grandfather and I was only twenty and I thought my legs would fall off by the time we reached the halfway point. While he quietly smoked his expertly rolled cigarette, I wished I had another lung and another day to recover and was nearly devastated when I found out we still had another eight hour walk over hills and creeks. Whew! Six weeks later, in Olympic form, we returned, much wiser and in the best shape we could be.
So, take a day to remember or imagine what our ancestors did in their spare time and realize that they had little or none and value their hard work, because without them we would not be enjoying the present day as much as we do.