Puppies, Dogs, and Blue Northers: Reflections on Being Raised by a Pack of Sled Dogs

Puppies, Dogs, and Blue Northers: Reflections on Being Raised by a Pack of Sled Dogs

4.5 44
by Gary Paulsen

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An experienced Iditarod racer, Gary Paulsen celebrates his lead dog and longtime companion, Cookie, in this intimate essay. Paulsen takes readers inside the kennel as Cookie’s last litter of pups grow and learn to pull sleds across the snowy frontier.

Includes an author's note.


An experienced Iditarod racer, Gary Paulsen celebrates his lead dog and longtime companion, Cookie, in this intimate essay. Paulsen takes readers inside the kennel as Cookie’s last litter of pups grow and learn to pull sleds across the snowy frontier.

Includes an author's note.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Paulsen is at the top of his form in this tribute to his sled dog Cookie, said PW in a starred review. It is easy to cross-shelve this book alongside adult titles, a love story every bit as much as an adventure story. Ages 10-up. (May) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
Gary Paulsen is not only a terrific author, he is also a "dog musher" who has raced in the Iditarod in Alaska and has raised the sled dogs who became his closest friends. To understand his relationship with his dogs, especially "Cookie", his lead dog, read Puppies, Dogs, and Blue Northers. When Cookie and her puppies are let loose in Paulsen's small home, the results are both hilarious and disastrous. After suffering a heart attack, Paulsen must give up racing and the dogs, except for Cookie. When her end comes, we feel her loss, too.
The ALAN Review - Richard F. Abrahamson
Teen readers who know Paulsen's other books and his Iditarod adventures will curl up with an old friend here. Paulsen strings together a series of biographical essays that tell the story of his best lead dog, Cookie, her puppies, and the adventures shared by musher and dogs. In Paulsen's signature prose, crisp and clean as a Minnesota winter night, he takes readers into the birthing room to see Cookie and the new pups. We are witnesses to a mother's stubborn determination not to give in to the death of a stillborn pup. Through Paulsen's eyes we see the different role each dog in the team plays as they all take a part in raising the pups. Whether Paulsen is describing the joyful chaos of thirty-six puppies in a small Minnesota house or detailing Cookie's nobility in the face of death, readers are handed a mirror to look at themselves and reflect on the lessons animals have to teach us about living life.
VOYA - Alice Johns
Stories from the life of "Cookie" dominate this book about the lives and training of sled dogs. Cookie was eminent YA novelist Paulsen's "primary lead dog for something close to fourteen thousand miles-trapline, training, and one full Iditarod." She was mother of exceptional pups, a lifesaver of the author more than once, and trainer of other dogs and her owner. Paulsen portrays the relationship of dogs and owners as a joyful relationship of fellow beings on the earth. Sled dogs' lives from conception to birth and from dog adolescence to adulthood are lovingly described. The final chapter portrays another part of life for these beings, the illness and retirement of Cookie and Paulsen, and Cookie's death on a cold winter's night. All readers who are dog lovers, and those involved with nature, particularly dogsled driving and living in a cold northern climate, will enjoy this book. Illus. VOYA Codes: 3Q 2P M J S (Readable without serious defects, For the YA with a special interest in the subject, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
From the Publisher

"Nonstop action."--The New York Times Book Review
[set star] "Readers . . . will find themselves along on a wonderful ride."--Kirkus Reviews (starred)

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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606 KB
Age Range:
10 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt


Cookie usually had puppies easily, but they were always so wonderful and special that I worried excessively each time. Considering that she had five litters of never less than eight pups and twice twelve—altogether over forty pups—this constituted a large measure of worry.

She deserved the effort and concern. Cookie was my primary lead dog for something close to fourteen thousand miles—trapline, training, and one full Iditarod—and had on several occasions saved my life. But more, most important, she threw leaders. Sometimes as many as half her pups tended to lead and a few had, like their mother, become truly exceptional lead dogs; dogs with great, unstoppable hearts and a joy to run. It didn't seem to matter if they were male or female—they were all good.

And so I worried.

This time the breeding had been accidental. We had been on a long training run in early fall, and Cookie had temporarily and with great enthusiasm fallen in love with a big, slab-sided half-hound named Rex. Cookie was running lead. It was a first-snow run—the snow was thin and melting rapidly and would be gone in two days, three at most—and it was so warm (thirty degrees) that I was wearing only a jacket and wool watch cap. We were running at night because of the heat (the dogs were most comfortable at ten or twenty below zero) and I had looked down at something on the sled when the whole team stopped dead.

I knew Cookie was in season and would not normally have run her during her time. But I had young and new dogs—Rex was one of them—and I needed her good sense and steadiness to control them while we ran.

Cookie, overcome bywhat could only be described as wild abandon, stopped cold, threw it in reverse, and backed into Rex. If he was surprised, he recovered instantly, and before I could react, they were romantically involved.

I pulled the other dogs away from them to avoid any fights, tied them up to trees, and made a small fire to have tea. Usually these things took time—lasted five or ten minutes—but with Cookie and Rex both in harness she would be anxious and stressful about wanting to run, and I wanted her to see that I had settled in and wanted to remove some of the nervousness so she wouldn't start to fight.

Normally I would have controlled the mating situation better, would have selected a male more to my liking. Rex was very much a question mark. I'd only had him a few days and didn't know much about him, and had I known that this would be Cookie's last litter and that it would be seven of the best dogs—two leaders—that I had ever seen or heard of, I perhaps would have paid more attention.

As it was I ignored them, or tried to. It always seemed to be such a private time for the dogs, the time of mating, and though they were quite open, I in some way felt like an intruder and did not like to watch them.

I turned away and heated snow for tea. The night was still and, consequently, I heard the dogs more than I usually would have. I "heard" the puppies being made.

In truth, much of what dogs are is based in sounds. They are quiet, wonderfully silent, when they run; mile after mile in soft winter nights I have heard nothing but the soft whuff of their breath and the tiny jingle of their collar snaps as they trot along.

But almost all other times they live in sound. They bark, whine, wheeze, growl, and—wonderfully—sing. When they see me come out of the house with harnesses over my shoulder, they go insane, running in their circles, literally bellowing their enthusiasm—some barking, some crying, some yipping, and some emitting a high-pitched keening scream that leaves the ears deaf for hours.

When it rains there is a song, and when it snows or when they want food or when something dies—sad songs, happy songs, duets and trios, sometimes all the dogs trying to harmonize, except the young ones who think they can sing but can't and throw their heads back to try to look adult but sing off-key and with the wrong timing.

They live in sound, always in noise. Perhaps because it is so constant, the art of listening to them falls off, and so many things they say are not heard, are swallowed in the overall sound. (An interesting aside: people know the sounds of their own dogs the way mothers know the cry of their babies. At one checkpoint during the Iditarod during a mandatory layover, some seven or eight hundred dogs were all in an area not much larger than a football field. The din was constant, deafening, and yet if a man or woman inside the building heard the sound of his or her own dog in the cacophony—even if the person was fast asleep—they were up and out the door instantly.)

But this quiet night with the wind gone and even the fire muted somehow by the dark I could hear, and for the first time I think I truly listened to them.

There were some growls, low and soft, envy from the young males who wanted to fight and show they had shoulders and thick necks; quiet whines of interest from others; and then, above all, the soft sounds from Cookie and Rex.

I thought of the word love.

There are, of course, many who would dispute it, many who would say dogs simply mate and that only people love, and it is perhaps true that I would have said the same thing before that night.

But the sounds were sweet, soft, gentle—not whines so much as terms of endearment, courtesy, and hope. They made me think of all the good parts of living and loving; how two can honestly become one; how we have made it all seem pointless with posturing and fashion and frills but that it is not frivolous, it is as old and meaningful as time, and it has all to do with the one thing that we are on earth to do—to make more, to make better, to bring new beings into it, into life.

All there, sitting by the fire while two people—I still cannot think of them as dogs—loved and were, in some way that I could not understand, sacred. All there listening to God making puppies.

Copyright 2002 by Gary Paulsen

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Nonstop action."—The New York Times Book Review[set star] "Readers . . . will find themselves along on a wonderful ride."—Kirkus Reviews

Meet the Author

GARY PAULSEN has written nearly two hundred books for young people, including the Newbery Honor Books Hatchet, Dogsong, and The Winter Room. He divides his time between a home in New Mexico and a boat on the Pacific Ocean.

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Puppies, Dogs, and Blue Northers: Reflections on Being Raised by a Pack of Sled Dogs 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 44 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
A dog is man's best friend, right? He is when it comes to Cookie, and Gary Paulsen reflects on the wonderful friendship they shared.

Cookie is the lead dog on Gary's team of sled dogs and has been for a very long time. Gary and Cookie have traveled a lot of trails together. They have even competed in the Iditarod. Cookie has given birth to many puppies but always goes back to work. You might call Cookie a working mother.

In PUPPIES, DOGS, AND BLUE NORTHERS, Gary Paulsen tells his own story of love and friendship with his canine friend. If the strength and endurance of sled dogs interests you, you will love this book. The road they have traveled is not always smooth sledding; there are plenty of bumps along the way. Children ages ten and up will love to learn more about these amazing dogs and the training that goes into being a successful musher. This is an action-packed adventure and love story of a man and his one very special dog.

Climb aboard this dog sled -- you won't ever forget it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you like a story with tons of adventure, sad moments, and detail, this is the book for you! Paulson describes his experience with his dogs in a very rich detailed way. Enjoy reading Puppies Dogs and Blue Northers by the Iditarod racer and writer, Gary Paulson.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The story of Puppies, Dogs, and The Blue Northers takes place out in the snowy woods, while the dogs were running for exercise. The main characters are Cookie the dog and her ower. Cookie becomes pregant by Rex(who also was a dog that belonged to Cookie's ower).The problem is that a terrible snow storm comes up and Cookie is due to hve her puppies and most likely the puppies would freeze since their wet when they come out of the mother, but they can't go ino the house because it is to warm for winter dogs and they would die. Cookies ower built a house out of straw bales and Cookie delieved her seven puppies in there, but the eighth one was stillbon. Read Puppies, Dogs, and the Blue Northers if you like a tear jerking dog story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What is up with this clan stuff I am confuised can some one explain this to me :(
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hi im new here can i join the clan? My name is spire im an adult wolf with no mate im male and have silverlike fur
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Blacksky is my name I am tired of being an outcast and am ready to join this clan i you'll have me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
((We need to move))
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im russetstep, a deep brown male
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
((He said he would be away for a while.))
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Goodluck young warrior.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We cant see headlines)) She puffed up her fur~Sk
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Runs off((sk meet me at the last resoult of the igloo))~ck
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Read the septimus heap series
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football32 More than 1 year ago
The book I'm going to tell you about is. Puppies Dog's And Blue Northern my opinion on the book was. It was ok not really the book for me but if you like dog's it would be a great book for you. Some of the main characters are Gary Paulsen and Cookie. Cookie is the lead sled dog Cookie is a great mom she cares a lot about her babies. She won't even give up on a dead one she is a strong lead dog she is the head lead dog. The dad of her babies was a big mixed breed dog named Rex. Now about the author Gary Paulsen you can tell he cares a lot about his dog's by he didn't want cookie to be breed to a mixed breed dog based on how. She has Campion babies but he let her any way. He even stayed out in freezing cold to help cookie through and unexpected birth. You can also tell he knows a lot about them where to line them up a great food for the babies to get them nice and strong. The way he treats them like humans and with a ton of respect. The book for me Wasn't the best but if you love dog's and the author Gary Paulsen you might love the book I found myself always lost and confused me but once you read farther and farther it got a lot better the mood changes a lot it's really intense to me but changes a lot to a relaxing sled ride. But it won't hurt to give it a try
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"I'm on, Sugar."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Same. I only fight if needed or if im going to get killed if i dont. -Flare