The Beargrease is on, as are memories of Skeezer

The John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon is underway along Minnesota’s North Shore of Lake Superior this week. Making its first start in two years on Sunday, the race is expected to wrap up tomorrow, March 13. Last year’s race was cancelled because of poor snow conditions. You can follow results and see footage here.

Watching the Beargrease results on local Duluth TV was a big deal in our house growing up. My sister Alyssa got it in her head she was going to race sled dogs and that’s how we ended up with a bright white Samoyed dog named Eskimo, who we would later refer to as “Skeezer.” I remember driving home from getting Skeezer, my sisters and I in the back seat of the station wagon taking turns hugging this little fluffy fellow.

Of course, we never raced sled dogs. That was a dream unrealized. Eskimo couldn’t keep his fur white; he became the Great Off-White Hope. Eskimo lived most of his days running along a fly line my dad built in the back yard, a sort of tether that allowed him a fairly big area to run without us having to build a fence. We had to do something because his favorite thing was to sit in the road. One time in winter he broke out of his fly contraption and ran. He leaped for the road but the snow was so deep that year that he became stuck in the ditch, right up to his chin. Dad had to rescue him.

One time he made it to the road and I watched a car hit him. I thought for sure he was dead. But he was fine. I don’t know how, but he was fine.

Skeezer’s last years were spent with my aunt and uncle because of some family issues. I was off at college then. I wonder if Skeezer regretted never running the Beargrease. I wonder if he ever thought that he should. He didn’t like to be in the house, so I suppose he never saw the race on the TV. Maybe he never knew that’s why he came to live with us. I’d sure like to scritch his belly one more time, though. Just one more time.

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