sled dogSled Dogs of Denali

The next morning we made it to Denali National Park in time for Pedro to have good cell service. Unfortunately, vacation is also a relative term when one works as a school principal!

Sarah and I went off exploring while Pedro conducted a phone interview via a conference call. We purchased tickets for a bus ride to Eielson Visitor’s Center for early the next morning. The park restricts vehicle traffic into the interior to park-operated tour busses and those visitors with camping reservations. We discovered that one can’t make reservations for spur-of-the-moment visits during peak seasons.

Sarah and I met up with Pedro at 11 and after a quick lunch we hiked down to Horseshoe Lake. I saw two new birds and we enjoyed a quiet hike complete with beaver dams and wildflowers.

The day alternated between socked in and sunny. One cannot see Denali (also known as Mount McKinley) from the main entrance area. I hoped that the weather would clear up for our tour the following day.

As so often happens, we ended up in an area with no real agenda. “They have sled dogs here,” I informed Pedro and Sarah. “Anyone want to go watch the sled dog demonstration?”

“Sounds good,” Pedro replied. “How do we get there?”

“We can either hike or take a free shuttle.”

“Shuttle!” Pedro and Sarah exclaimed at once.

“How about if I walk and meet you there,” I said. “I might find a few more birds along the way.”

I set off for a walk whilst they enjoyed a nap. The vibrant green of the forest and white-barked trees drew me along the pathway.

Sled Dogs in Action

sled dogs

When I arrived, I read about the sled dogs while I waited. Sled dogs have helped rangers patrol and work in the park since the park’s inception in 1917. No other national park in the United States has sled dogs. During the winter months, the dogs move tons of supplies for trail improvements. They also take rangers out on patrol.

The sled dogs on display lounged on top of their doghouses showing disdainful disinterest in the scores of visitors wandering between the rows. Occasionally, a handler would unchain a dog and bring it out for visitors to pet.

After Pedro and Sarah arrived, we made our way to the demonstration area. As the time for the program neared, you could feel tension in the air. Dogs stood up, stretched and started pacing. Before long, handlers pulled a wheeled cart out and pointed it in the right direction.

A ranger got the crowd’s attention and started talking about the history of the dogs and their service to the park. The noise from the kennels increased. Handlers brought the chosen dog team out and the noise turned cacophonous.

The ranger explained that the handlers held the dogs up in the air to guide them as they lunged and danced forward on their powerful hind legs. If the handlers didn’t keep a firm grip on the dogs, they would take off running. I confess I thought the manner looked slightly abusive, but the dogs don’t lean into the collars and thus didn’t choke themselves.

Once the handlers had the dogs hitched to the cart, the musher gave the signal and the dogs took off at a dead run. I understood why the musher wore a helmet as the dogs and cart careened around a corner and headed back to the demonstration area.

Beauty Tips From from Sled Dogs

Although their run lasted less than a minute, the dogs contentedly obeyed the ‘down’ command. After all, they had accomplished their task—even if it only lasted a short amount of time.

Hundreds of years have breeding have gone into the sled dogs. Their purpose in life consists of running and pulling with all of their might. No one asks them to run and pull all the time, and they take advantage of their rest time.

God created us for one purpose, too—to love and serve him. We need to take our rest as well. Valuable service does not consist of constant movement. Resting and preparing our attitudes plays a valuable role as well.

We require #rest before we can be ready to serve. Click To Tweet

Beauty Tip #27: We require rest in order to be ready to serve.

Q4U: Have you ever struggled with resting?


  1. Oh friend… ALL the YES and AMENS!!! You are speaking my language here! (And now… with November nearly here… well – REST is back to the top of my bossy list of things to do!) 😉

  2. I mostly struggle with wanting to take time to rest on Sunday when I haven’t gotten everything ready for the week by then. God has taught me rest is important and truly needed, though. Visiting from coffee for your heart.

  3. Anita,
    Your travels are always so interesting and you bring a unique perspective from them — I love that! Resting and working — isn’t that what God has purposed us to do from the beginning of creation? Yet, we don’t always do it well, I think, and have so much room to improve! Your words are so true that we have to rest before we can serve!
    Valerie Sisco recently posted…The Story Isn’t OverMy Profile

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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