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My Secret Society

Remember when you were a kid and wanted to join a secret society? I do, but those coveted societies all a remained a secret to me and I was forced to settle for Girl Scout Meetings at the firehouse. Then I got into running dogs and built a little team of 4 Siberian huskies who pull me running, on a bike, a scooter, a sled or a 3-wheeled rig. I’ll basically attach anything to a dog, say “HIKE!” and see what happens! Partly because I am a single mom and the days are busy, partly because I have a bold, reactive husky who has gotten into his fair share of trouble and partly because I treasure my alone-time with my dogs, I run them at 5 am in the woods. And it was here I finally found my secret society.

What started out of necessity has become one of the best parts of my life, outside of those unexpected tender moments with my 10-year old daughter. There are the somewhat obvious enjoyments of seeing the sun rise, enjoying the solitude of the woods, listening for the first bird call. But then there is even more. Running dogs at night brings out their more primitive side. They are just a little more alert, a little more on edge, a little more wild. I love that part of dogs. The part that remains all-dog, maybe some wolf from long ago. The part that has nothing to do with me.

And then there is my secret society, that evolves with the seasons. What I have learned is that if a person is out in the woods, by themselves, at 5 am, there an interesting reason. This fall I met the hunters of Weston. We descended on the trails at the same time, me with my 4 huskies and a 3-wheeled rig; them with their shot guns, bows and arrows. While the rest of the world was sleeping, we were talking about the woods. I let them know where I had seen those bright eyed deer looking inquisitively at me and my dogs; they assured me that they would not shoot me with an errant arrow or bullet. It was camaraderie at its very best!

Hunting season ended in early December and I had the woods to myself for a little while, until a kind middle-aged man decided to adopt 2 really f’d up dogs. This guy is no runner. Even under all of his winter gear I can tell he is carrying a bit more than his fair share. But he is out there EVERY morning at 5 am, running on ice, with his 2 snarling beasts relentlessly pulling on their leashes. The two of us have come up with the most elegant of dances. As soon as I see his headlamp bobbing slowly along the trail, my team pulls over and I run to my lead dogs and just hold them by their neckline and collars and wait for the beasts to shuffle by. Because we both run in loops, we will perform this dance many times each morning. Through this repetitive waltz performed several mornings each week, we have become friends of sorts. I don't know his name, but he is usually the first person I say good morning to every day and I love that.

I think many us who treasure the wilds of the forest are torn about living in the burbs of Boston. I know that I am. But I am so fortunate to have found this little secret society of hunters and the kindest-of-heart dog lovers who will get up in the dead of the night, just to have a little wild in their day and in their life. People that look for wildness in the wilderness, however they can get it. My secret society.

-Meghan L, BDA member, fellow musher

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