After unpacking and putting groceries away, I headed for the dog yard to reacquaint myself. The first dog I saw was Sultan, the leader that had been afraid of me. The one who left me in the snow and ran back to the dog yard. The one I had tried so hard to make like me. He was in the same spot I left him, 7 months ago, at the end of the dog yard nearest the trail. I worked my way through the yard petting the dogs I knew. I was relieved that many of my dogs were still here. The two that were the first to adopt me, Washington and Patriot were still here; so were Reece, Hershey, Herbie, Hook, Hemi, Toro, and Gator. Melanie had 15 puppies from last year that she moved up from the puppy pen next to the house in another part of the yard. I would find out later that these would make up most of my team this year and the ones I ran last year would probably be going to Nome with John.
Washington and Patriot are brothers born on the 4th of July. They were the first two dogs to befriend me and are still some of my closest friends on the team. I look forward to sharing the trip with them, all the way to Nome. It's the least I can do for their friendship.