Kickass, the doorstop dog, allows the keeper to revisit good memories under the heading of why not?
It is mid-December 1987 and southern Wis is getting a 17-inch snowfall. But the keeper, on the Chicago Tribune payroll at the time, is not around to enjoy the Wis snow. He is in Alaska with Tim Andrews and his friend Dave meeting up with Iditarod veteran and would-be dog-sled outfitter Tom to camp 25 miles back in the bush where an impatient team of Iditarod dogs drags the keeper several hundred yards head-first through three feet of powder snow before he can pull himself up enough to get his feet on the sled runners.
And then it was a glorious solitary experience to ride with the incredible dogs across miles of tundra wilderness on a bright, frigid day, seemingly wonderfully detached from the rest of the seething world.
There were many other noteworthy elements to the dog sled adventure—a thawing pan of dogfood chicken carcasses falling off the stove in the middle of the night and landing on the keeper as he slept on the dirt floor, nearly freezing to death on a brief cross-country ski run with Tim along Anchorage’s Turnagain Bay, and then finally coming home to a snow-buried Madison without any sled-dog access.