Charlie Brown is alive. And he loves to run. All he ever wants to do is to pull and run.
Charlie Brown is a sled dog. A speed dog. Streamlining, he pushes his way through the air. Ears back, eyes focused. Charlie Brown; proud member of our speed team. But Charlie Brown was not always like that. This is the story of an I-don’t-really-like-to-pull-sleds dog to an I-just-love-this-stuff dog. Charlie Brown came to us together with his brother Snoopy from a great sled dog family when they were 12 weeks old, but they were two entirely different dogs.
Snoopy was an explorer and could not wait until we put the harness on him for the first time. When we were preparing a team Snoopy was always excited, jumping all over the place, yapping and howling. “Take me, take me,” was his message. “I want to run.” He just wanted to be a sled dog. Not so much Charlie Brown. When he saw us preparing the team, he hid in his dog house. No excitement at all. “Just leave me here, please. I don’t like it.” He was quite smaller than his brother and he was shy, very shy.
We were able to lure him out of his hiding shell with a treat, but he stood there frozen. The other five dogs of the team were jumping all over the place. Charlie Brown was scared. During the runs he did not pull. All he wanted was to go back to his pen as soon as possible. So after a few months we decided that Charlie Brown is a lovely dog from a great sled dog family, but just not supposed to be dog. We would love him no matter what. Then one afternoon Charlie Brown and Snoopy disappeared. We were playing with them on a free run and all of a sudden both dogs were gone. After 30 minutes Snoopy came back. Happy as always he went into his pen and had a nap.
Charlie Brown did not show up.
It was 35 below. He would not make it through the night. We were looking for him all over the place. The whole night we were out on our snow machines yelling and screaming, “CHARLIE BROOOOOWN.” Nothing. Same thing the next day and the following night. No tracks, nothing. He was gone and we were all very sad. We thought we had lost him and said goodbye.
Another day went by and we were still devastated. But then the phone rang. Our neighbor. He had a visit from his friend who mentioned a dog hanging around his cabin for a few days. The description was just too perfect. Could it really be Charlie Brown? The cabin was way out in the bush and in the opposite direction from our house. We started the truck, hopped in and drove to the cabin. The friendly man invited us in, made coffee and started to talk about the dog. He comes and goes, he said. Very shy. He gave him a few fat scraps. But then the dog left again. He usually comes closer to night the man said.
So we drank coffee and waited. Then all of a sudden the man said, “Quiet. I just saw the tips of two ears in the window. He is here.” We started saying – or almost singing – the name, “Charlie Brown, Charlie Brown, come here.” Still not sure if it was really him. Then we heard sounds. “Charlie Brown, good boy.”
Slowly we opened the door. And it was him – Charlie Brown. Skinny and shivering, but not hurt. We took him in our arms, gave him warmth and fed him. There we were, in a cabin, out in the Yukon woods and holding our dog in our arms. It was one of the most touching moments in our lives. Back home again, we fed him a hot meat soup. He had lost so much weight. Snoopy was ecstatic. His brother was back. What joy!
One week later we prepared the sled for a run. When we went to get Snoopy we saw magic – Charlie Brown was not in his dog house, he was outside. Jumping four feet in the air, barking, dancing, and smiling. “Take me, take me,” he said. And we took him. Charlie Brown ran side-by-side with his brother Snoopy, and like we had never seen him before. His line was always straight. No slack at all and he was pulling his heart out for this run.
After, all of the dogs got some hot meat soup. And Charlie Brown was so proud. So proud to be part of the team. And since then Charlie Brown is a key dog in our team.
Still today, we don’t know what changed – why he all of a sudden wanted to be a sled dog. It seems like he is just thankful to be alive. Yes, Charlie Brown is alive.