Call of the WYld by Abby Jacques
I want you to think back to when you were a child. Think of the times you were asked what you wanted to be when you grew up. What did you say? And more importantly, when did you stop believing you could continue to pursue that life?
Since I was a child, I have felt a calling into the wilderness. I grew up in a subdivision but was fortunate enough to have two parents that invested time into bringing me to parks, family farms, zoos, camps, etc. They taught me about nature, helped me identify just about every animal I could find, and let my imagination run wild. To say I felt at home in the woods, was an understatement.
One thing in particular that I was introduced to throughout my time chasing wild places in Michigan was dog mushing. I was enamored with the idea of playing with huskies all day. I yearned to become one with a team delving into the forest for days at a time. I truly believed I could race the Iditarod one day. But as with most dreams we have as a child, I pushed it aside, not believing it was possible. After all, I didn't even grow up with dogs… admittedly, I was a cat person.
So when I moved to Wyoming, it was safe to say I never imagined I would become a dog musher. I remember sitting in Utah for a job, knowing I wasn't happy there, and not knowing my next move. I had decided to go back to Wyoming, and I knew whatever I did, I wanted to be surrounded by wilderness. I happened to be watching The Great Alone about Lance Mackey, and it sparked back to life my childhood dream of becoming a dog musher. For a moment, like a child, I felt like I could truly do anything I wanted to.
I knew my life would never be the same after that moment. Not only because dogs tend to take over your life, but because I had wholeheartedly followed through with a childhood dream that I had always considered impossible. If I was able to do this, what could possibly hold me back in life?
I continued from Wyoming to Alaska, where I was given my first sled dog. If you have never owned a husky, let me tell you, there is really no going back once you have one. The moment I got her, I knew that she was my starting point. My dreams only got bigger after that.
Just like the day I decided to be a dog musher, I decided last year that I was going to own my own sled dog team and tour business. I decided I would do everything in my power to make it happen, and this spring, I got the news that we had closed on our first piece of property: a beautiful slice of Wyoming wilderness. I am still a long ways away from truly fulfilling my dreams, but I have learned so much along this journey. I have grown confidence inside me that you can only achieve from following your heart with no thought of failure.
I know it is discontinued now, but my gift to myself was a special piece, created as a fundraiser for UPAWS (Upper Peninsula Animal Welfare Shelter). The Trail Home pendant is a beautiful silver pendant, featuring pine trees and paw prints. While all of Beth's pieces speak to me because of their connection to Michigan, this one screamed my name because of this new life that I created for myself. Being a dog musher has taught me patience, compassion, unrelenting determination, and a kind of peace I have not found anywhere else but on the runners behind a dog team in the forest. Each time I put this pendant on, I am filled with these same feelings. Even when life twists and turns, I run my fingers over the smooth metal paw prints and remind myself to believe in myself just like I did when I was a child. I remind myself that I am capable of great things. No matter who you are, or where you are in life, if you take anything away from reading this, I hope it is this: it is NEVER too late to start chasing your dreams.