Mushing has a way of making you feel old. As a matter of fact, right now I’m feeling pretty old as I sit here with achy fingers, a sore back and throbbing knees. It makes me wonder, no it makes me worry, what life will be like in 30 years when every bone in my body is aching as a result of participating in this glorious but abusive sport. It hits me that if this abuse keeps up I may find myself in need of assisted living sooner than later. This, of course, starts churning up panicky thoughts of how life in a nursing home for a musher could be nothing short of torture. Only a musher would understand spending their remaining days in God’s giant kennel with folks that never did, do not presently and never will understand our crazy lifestyle. Folks that tire of our dog talk. Folks that have spent a lifetime with the notion that shopping and cleaning are fun, and adventurous. Folks that hate winter or worse….that hate dogs! It just doesn’t seem like the appropriate way to end things, does it? It’s not. I am called to action. I’m motivated. I have decided that Mushers MUST have a special place of their own where they can age gracefully!
WELCOME TO TRAIL’S END NURSING HOME. We are now taking applications! Sign yourself or your beloved “musher” up now!
Mission: We know that all of you mushers are broke from years of buying dog food and that the thought of giving up scooping to sit in a sterile hospital environment would mean your immediate demise. Therefore, our mission is to provide affordable (not free – look for sponsors), quality assisted living that will simulate a mushing lifestyle until your last breath.
Entry Requirements: To qualify for residency you must be able to prove participation in the sport of mushing as a driver, handler, vet or volunteer and you must also pass a mandatory physical examination.
The Grounds: We want all our residents to feel right at home as if they were back at the kennel. That’s why Trails End is nestled in the seclusion of a pine forest miles and miles from population. It is located in a northern climate that will get plenty of snow. Residents will be housed in log cabins with wood burning stoves. The focal point of the grounds is the huge, log community center where residents can gather every night to talk dogs around the bonfire until all hours of the evening. If you don’t feel like going back to your room, no problem, curl up in your sleeping bag in the corner. Each resident will be allowed one sled dog that will be provided an outdoor house with tie out and personal handler. The sled dog will enable mushers to move about the grounds freely on specially designed wheelchairs with skis. In the summertime the skis will be replaced with all-terrain tires.
There will be groomed trails through the hundreds of acres for year round training. Along the trail there will be designated rest points for those of you who still struggle with pacing.
Staff: We have hired only the best to assist you at Trails End. After a lifetime of searching, we want you to feel like you have finally found the best kennel help ever. Therefore, our nurses will not be called nurses; they will be appropriately referred to as “Handlers”! “Oh, Handler Margie could you bring me a Gatorade, please?” “Certainly, Musher Magnus! Would you like it in a squeeze bottle or on the rocks?”
Your team of doctors or Vets, as we refer to them, will be a mix of sports medicine doctors, chiropractors and physical therapists (specializing in massage). Vet appointments will be first come first serve.
Food service: Our goal was to design a menu that fueled fond memories for mushers; dishes that you know and love. We took inspiration from the traveling musher that logged thousands of cross country miles on the race circuit. Can you smell the Slim Jims, peanuts and Twinkies? Do you remember the pancake breakfasts served on paper plates? No better way to end the day than with a hot dog and, of course, a bowl of hot chili. We will have unlimited coffee and hot cocoa 24 hours a day. As Founder of Trail’s End I’ve also requested unlimited Red Bulls with their own special chiller! It goes without saying that there will be an endless supply of snacks to fuel our bodies night and day. Another unique feature to our menu that will make mushers feel right at home is the element of surprise that we built into feeding time. Since Musher’s would never expect 3 meals a day we’ll provide only two and they will not come at a regular time in the day. Instead a bell will sound twice a day at an unannounced time and mushers will rush to the cafeteria to assure they get their fill. Everything will be able to be eaten with your hands and/or plastic utensils.
Clean up will not be an issue as we will provide bibs for everyone. It will not be a problem getting even the toughest mushers to wear them because we will paint a number on them; which will have them fondly viewing them as racing bibs. This will also encourage good eating habits as they will all be racing to the cafeteria when the bell sounds. Food is removed if plates aren’t clean in 20 minutes.
Activities: Having spent the better part of your lives scooping, feeding and working non-stop, we know that inactivity would be torture to mushers. So we have designed activities for all interests that are meant to engage mushers mentally and physically. Here’s just a sampling of the hundreds of things to do at Trail’s End.
– Our video room has every video ever created about mushing to be enjoyed on a large screen TV. You can watch them over and over and over just as you did in your youth. Since your memory is probably shot, everyday will be like watching a new video.
– Sit around with your friends and reminisce during a neckline and tug line work bee.
– Learn or hone your sewing skills in our booty making and harness repair workshop.
– Monthly dry land events, which will involve dogs and wheelchairs and will simulate the old days of racing.
– Campouts on the front lawn all year long (snow would never hurt a musher)!
– Memory contests to keep the mind sharp. See if you can remember pedigrees of old dogs
– Puppy Daycare – Trails End wouldn’t be geared to mushers if we didn’t have puppies. Let em loose and watch the chaos begin.
– In January and March, mushers will be encouraged to have all nighters and see if they can go without sleep for 36 hours.
– Do you miss scooping? Take one of our monthly day trips to the local dog park and scoop to your heart’s content.
– Annual Prune Juice Derby – participate in your first mass start during this crazy event. Mushers will each consume 16 oz of Prune juice and take off in a mass start to the outhouses. Winners and Losers will be evident.
Mandatory Gear: Trails End will be affordable and will not be out of reach for any musher. We have found ways to keep costs at a minimum. Money will be saved on the heating bills. Mushers are quite accustomed to cold weather and will be required to have the following mandatory cold weather gear before arrival;
Arctic parka, hats, gloves, thermal underwear, lobbens, wool socks and snow pants. The heat will kept at 45 degrees in the winter, which will feel like a heat wave to any ex-musher. We will provide free hand warmers to all.
Another cost saving feature of the home will be the lack of lighting. As the natural light of day disappears, we will all put on our mandatory headlamps. After all, we’re most comfortable working in the dark.
Rules: We all know whenever there is a large group of mushers, you must have some rules to keep order and prevent chaos and bickering. Here are some of the house rules. A full review of the rules will be at the mandatory musher meeting upon arrival at the center.
– Money is tight so showers will only be allowed once per week. It is too cumbersome to have to get the mushers out of their winter gear daily to bathe and besides, they are quite accustomed to a little stink and a little dirt and we want them to feel right at home.
– Non-mushing visitors will only be allowed once per month because we wouldn’t want the musher to feel overwhelmed from seeing family and friends more than they were accustomed to in the old days. Mushing visitors are allowed any time 24 hours a day – parking is first come, first serve. September through March, visitors will only be allowed during dry land events and the mushers will not be allowed off premise to attend birthdays, anniversaries or other functions.
– Slower wheelchairs must yield to passing wheelchairs and assist in the pass. The hallway to the cafeteria is “No Man’s Land”
– All wheel chairs must be equipped with at least 6 inches of fluorescent tape on all 4 sides of the wheelchair and a flashing red light for night driving.
– When snacking on the grounds, all debris must be picked up and removed.
– Performance enhancing drugs are strictly prohibited
At the end of a long day at Trails End you will hear the familiar sound of huskies howling over the intercom. Sign up today. Early applicants will receive a reduced entry fee! Meet me at the Trail’s End!