The most important thing that I believe my job is, is to train my dogs to have a “trust-and-be-trusted” relationship. This starts with me working with the puppies, training them to always trust that I will never ask them to go any further or faster than they are capable of; and yet, everyday, in some way, I will challenge them perhaps to go a little bit farther than they know they are capable of doing. However, if they show me they are not capable of something, I’m there to comfort and praise them, to give them whatever they need. If they do accomplish it, I’m there to praise them. I do this sometimes by just letting the puppies run loose, and sometimes the dog team. That trust is fairly easy to give to them. The other side of it is that I need to trust in them, trust that they are smarter in the wilderness than I am. I will many times have to depend on their lives, and my life, in their knowledge. And one of the first ways I found this out was after just two years of living in Alaska. I was traveling on a trail I had been using all winter long, which crossed a frozen river, and my lead dog, Teckla at the time, took off to the right. I told her to go back onto the trail. She took off to the right again. This dog never disobeyed me, and I could not understand why she was trying to do it. So I finally gave her her head, she pulled the team off to the side just as the trail collapsed into the river, and we all would have drowned. So she had a sixth sense that saved our lives.