The Dog I've Always Wanted

Canine Behavior, Training and Photography

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Cold Hands Warm Heart by Jeff King

February 7th, 2009 · · Book Reviews, Mushing-northern dogs

book cover for "Cold Hands Warm Heart"

Winner of many sled dog races and most notably 1150-mile Iditarod (1993, 1996, 1998, and 2006) Jeff King is an individual with tremendous competitive  drive and a talent for single minded focus. These capacities have enabled him to fulfill his boyhood dream of living in a cabin by a lake in Alaska and mushing. He now does all these things in addition to running a breeding program and producing and training his own dogs. In season, his home, Husky Homestead, is open to visitors and many tourists make the trip.

His story telling talents are well displayed in this book. His narrative accounts of his mushing adventures are punchy and vivid. The reader will learn how to survive a plunge into icy water and the subsequent freezing of clothing. I like to read the accounts of grueling mushing runs while wrapped in a blanket on a cold winter night.

There has in the past been some controversy concerning the treatment of dogs racing in the Iditarod and I do not intend to go into those issues here.  If  the reader would like to read a balanced intelligent account of this controversy I refer you to “Dog’s Best Friend”  by Mark Derr, chapter seven, ‘Mutts of the North’.  Of course these racing Alaskan huskies do not lead the same kind of life as a house dog. In fact they very rarely see the inside of a house. They are however able to experience the fulfillment for which they are bred and trained. Call them dharmic canines.

“Cold Hands Warm Heart” is illustrated with the wonderful art of the author’s wife, Donna Gates King. She portrays the dogs with a vivifying empathy. The scenery and mushing scenes are alive to the eye. Her colours are the colours of the north. Clear blue white light suffuses her work and gives it an aura of transparency. The book also contains a number of photograph’s from throughout his career and some of them really excellent.

The count down is on for this year’s Iditarod. In thirty three days 73 mushers will embark on one of the most challenging tests of strength and drive and stamina, not to mention speed, imaginable. This year’s start date is March seventh. Reading “Cold Hands Warm Heart” is a good way to get in the mood.


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