“Never Forget Your Dreams”
It was a decade ago with a dog truck full of a rag-tag team of rescued Siberian Huskies, three kids barely old enough to be in school and a dream that was just begining.
Michele, the kids and I were heading to the Black Hills Race to the Gold sled dog race in Hill City, South Dakota. It was one of our first races and first road trips as a family. I had recently moved to Colorado and shared my passion of dog sledding with all of them. I told them about my Iditarod dreams and they supported my decisions.
As we were driving we saw this sign: “Never Forget Your Dreams” at the Crazy Horse Memorial near Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills.
I will never forget–I slammed on the brakes, drove into the parking lot and jumped out of the dog truck with my dog Ineka. Michele snapped the picture, and if you look real close you can see three little kids in the back seat.
Who would have known that a decade later that this sign would become the mantra and driving force for everything that my family and I do.
A lot has changed over the last ten years. And many things have remained the same. I am still mushin’ down the dream but that dream has changed our lives. We have a successful dog training business, and all three kids have worked with us since 2001. An experience that have taught them valuable life lessons and how to be motivated and go-getters! Our oldest son, Kyle is in line to take over Denver Dog Works soon. He is 19 now. Our youngest, Nicole, is almost 14 and wants to go to school to become a veterinarian. Tyler, now 16, is coming up to Alaska with me next week to work in a dog yard with 50 sled dogs for his first “real” job.
Speaking of Alaska. We have bought a place in Willow and this crazy dream has brought us there. The dream that we thought about under this arch a decade ago is much closer to reality with me planning on competing in a few Iditarod qualifiers next season.
Sadly Ineka (the dog in the 2001 photo) passed away in July 2010. His legacy will be with us on the trail every day in that we named our kennel Team Ineka and I will race under that banner. It is amazing how much a dog can teach you over a decade and where he can take you. Ineka did just that.
So when we drove to Hill City and Crazy Horse this past weekend we realized something: No matter how big or how out of reach your dreams may seem never stop reaching for them. The sculptor, Korczak Kiolkowski started this great monument in 1948 and over a half century later it is far from completion. But you know what, the dream is still alive and all of his children are continuing the legacy.
Sounds like a story very similar to mine.
“Dream Big and Dare to Fail”
–Col. Norman Vaughn