I'd Like to Dedicate This smile to...

As a buffer to my next post "I'd Like to Dedicate This Middle Finger..." I've decided to go in a complete about face, if you will, and bring out buckets of gushing love into the picture.

In my mid twenties I knew this woman named Cary. She lived in Northern Minnesota with her husband and 30something dogs.Yep, you read right. 30something dogs.
They raised husky sled dogs and were the closest people who lived by my boyfriend's A frame cabin we used to go to every weekend. He had known them for years and considered them family and we would hang out with them regularly. They were Northern MN folks that were impossible not to like.
She was an ?early 50's?, weather worn woman, grown up hippie who spent all day in the dog yard feeding and maintaining these dogs at, what I would call, a sled dog ranch. These were not cuddly house dogs. Quite the opposite. They were work dogs - athletes. They each had an individual dog house they were chained to with a flat roof that they would jump on and around. She and her husband would spend all day mixing and dispersing dog food, picking up poop, replacing hay in the dog houses, running the dogs... it seemed a never ending task. When the day's work was done she would go into their cabin and make a kick ass dinner from scratch. After dinner they would sit around the sparse kitchen's table, have a beer, and shoot the shit with ya.
I loved hanging out with her! It was my first friend that was significantly older than me and my "Little House on the Prairie" heartstring woke up and sang the loudest when I was in their cabin around canned goods and homemade fried bread just off the wood burning stove (a technique she learned from a Native American back in the 60's).
She was interesting to me. Not like any of the women her age I've been around before. There were no mani-pedis, highlights, and waxings going on around here.
She was truly happy working her ass off every day of the year to be able to take hours long sled dog rides in the winter. Just her and her dogs (who, by the way, enjoyed those runs just as much as her). That was her reward for a life filled with manual labor and she loved it.

After a year and a half of knowing her through weekend visits up North, Cary and her husband moved to Alaska. I guess their hearts were being called even further North by some hypnotic siren song that's in a pitch that only dog mushers and their dogs can hear.
On the night before they left MN we had a huge bon fire and the Northern Lights came out and rolled across the sky in shades of green that were unbelievable. I had never seen the Northern Lights before or since. It was pretty magical in a drunken bon fire way. It made sense that the MN skies would wish these awesome people a fond farewell.

The boyfriend and I ended up moving to Oregon shortly after. We visited them and stayed the summer in Alaska a couple months after they moved there and to my surprise they had a new husky dog in their yard. Cary informed us the dog's name was Two Face. She was completely white except exactly half of her face. It looked like a line drawn between her eyes down her muzzle that split both sides of the face. The right half of her face was completely pitch black. A totally awesome dog to look at!
She told us they had drove hours and visited another dog musher they had read about on the other side of Denali to see how he set up his dog yard. The guy was a weird, back-woods, type man and while there he showed them his dogs and casually pointed out Two Face and told them he was going to shoot her later that night. He had just found out the dog was deaf and now she had no use to him. She wouldn't run with his dog team and he didn't want to waste any more money on vaccinations and dog food on her.
After they left and drove about 10 miles they couldn't stand the thought of that beautiful dog getting killed and turned around and went back and told the dog musher they would be more than happy to take her off his hands. Sure enough, the guy's tune soon changed and he told them he would sell her to them for $100. NOW this dog was worth money to him. ("Total Dick #1" character in this dedication.).
Cary and her husband paid the $100 and took her home.

Cary never called her "Two Face". I often heard Cary calling her "Lucky" and I would watch her from afar whisper in the dog's ear when she would brush her fur out. The dog was for sure deaf but after a week or so Cary hooked her up to the dog team and the dog ran perfectly somehow just knowing when to stop.
A couple months after we left Alaska I broke up with the boyfriend ("Total Dick #2" character in this dedication), never to talk to him again, and moved back to MN from OR. I would write Cary (as they had no phone) and keep in touch. She would find time in her busy day and write long letters back telling me about her life on the dog ranch. Sometimes she'd send me pictures. They became my favorite thing to receive in the mail.
About a year later I moved again and lost the box that had her letters and address off the back of the pick up truck. It fell out on the highway, exploding contents everywhere, and *poof* she was out of my life. Just like that. She didn't have my new address and I didn't have hers.

I found the ex boyfriend on social media many years later. I sent him a message telling him I hope he was well and politely asked if he could give me Cary's address. To my surprise, within a few short minutes, his wife sassily responded back that she was monitoring his account and she doesn't want women sending him messages and to not contact him again. humm. A little "once a cheater, always a cheater" action still going on with this man. Still a Total Dick. I'm pretty sure she never even told him I contacted him. Poor woman. 

That was it. 
My last possible chance to reconnect with Cary swept out in a fit of jealous rage. 

I think about her and her kind, simple heart often.
I like to dedicate this smile to kind, sweet Cary, the mother of all dogs.

10 years later and I still think of you all the time.

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