Alys: Ryder, how are you doing?
Ryder: Why is it so cold in here?
A: You can’t be cold. You’re lying by the woodstove.
R: The fire’s out. Please put more wood in the woodstove.
A: Do it yourself.
R: Can’t. Don’t have thumbs.
A: That’s just an excuse. I see dogs on YouTube all the time starting fires.
R: Those dogs have thumbs.
A: Okay. I’ll get the fire going.
R: And don’t forget to light it.
R: I am very smart. One of my kind had her photo on the cover of National Geographic Magazine.
A: What for?
R: Being able to count to a thousand.
A: Very impressive.
R: Get a fire going.
Sled dogs do not hang out on kitchen tables.
A: How come you are so grumpy?
R: I’m not grumpy, just cold.
A: You know, there are dogs out there that . . .
R: Yeah, yeah, yeah, homeless in all, sniffing overturned garbage cans in search of food.
A: Yes, there are those dogs. There are also these dogs . . .
R: Yeah, yeah, yeah, pulling heavy sleds thousands of miles.
A: That’s right. And right now they’re out on the Iditarod trail.
R: And wishing they were elsewhere?
A: Hard to say. They are elsewhere.
R: Elsewhere being?
A: Back in their dog yards.
R: What are their dog houses made of?
A: Plywood, barrels, sheet metal, all kinds of things. Some dog team owners even house their dogs in old cars.
R: Sure beats pulling a sled, driving a car.
A: But dogs can’t drive because they lack thumbs.
R: Are the dogs that are chained to dog houses ever allowed to run free?
A: Yes, when they’re puppies. They get older, they get smarter, are tied up because they tend to run off.
R: How do you know about this?
A: I’ve seen dog yards, been to dog races.
R: Why don’t you do something about this?
A: Because I’m not sure that sled dogs are an unhappy lot.
R: Do you think they’re happy?
A: They aren’t unhappy or happy because they have no basis for comparison.
R: I don’t understand.
A: Someday I’ll take you to a dog yard and you can have a chat with the inhabitants.
R: Might be something to do, when it warms up.
R: I am not a wimp. I am a border collie. We are a breed that has been bred to keep our master’s company and lie by the hearth.
A: A woodstove is not a hearth.
R: Close enough.
A: You know, you are leading a great life. You get to lie by the woodstove, sleep in our bed, and run on the local trails to your heart’s content. What more could a dog want?
R: You really want to know?
R: You sure?
A: I think I can handle it.
R: Just one thing.
A: What’s that?
R: The kibbles have got to go. I want salmon instead. Rainbow also wants salmon.
A: We missed the fish run this past summer. But we won’t miss the next.
R: You can get me salmon then?
A: We can get you salmon then.
A: Promise. Have I ever failed to come through on a promise?
R: Not yet. But there is always a first time.
A: And a second, and a third, and a fourth time.
R: Salmon, just get me salmon.
A: Will do.
Next: 68. 3/9/17: A Girl’s Gotta do what a Girl’s Gotta Do