Have you ever wished that you had a best friend?
A best friend that you can rough house with?
And when you get yelled at for being loud and crazy,
does your best friend calm you down?
Well, I think that having a best friend is one of the greatest things in the world.
And everyone gets a best friend someday.
So I decided to make a story about two dogs who are best friends.
I named the book PAINTER AND UGLY.....because the two dogs are named Painter and Ugly.
And there really is a Painter.
And there really is an Ugly.
So come with me now- up to Alaska to meet the dogs, mush a dog team, build a dog box, and to feel the excitement of the Junior Iditarod Race!
This is my first sketch of Painter. He is a real dog.
He is smart, strong, fast, and friendly.
He likes dinner, snow, and belly rubs.
This is my first sketch of Ugly. He, too, is a real dog.
He is also smart, strong, fast, and friendly.
He likes snacks, running, and winning races-
but most of all he likes to be with his best friend, Painter.
I met Painter when I travelled to North Pole Alaska and moved in with the Holt family to learn about the Jr. Iditarod.
Mr. Holt was going to race in the adult Iditarod. His children Taylar and Jeff Jr. were going to race in the Junior Iditarod.
They sure are a racing family!
Mr. Holt introduced me to his favorite new sled dog, Painter.
He told me that Painter might just be the best sled dog he ever met.
I told him that he was a beautiful dog, but that he looked a little sad.
Mr. Holt wondered if Painter missed his friend, Ugly.
"Ugly?" Who is Ugly?" I asked. And Mr. Holt told me a story about how Painter had a best friend named Ugly.
Painter and Ugly had been best friends since they were puppies. They did everything together all the time.
Painter and Ugly played together, slept together, and even ate out of the same dinner bowls together.
"How did he get the name Ugly?" I asked Mr. Holt.
"I don't know," he told me.
"Hmmm...." I thought, "If I make up a story about Ugly, I'll have to make a part about how he got his name."
The man who owned Painter and Ugly was an Iditarod musher. Each year when race season was over, he took his dog team to an island on the Yukon river and let them live there free and untied all summer. I guess he figured they'd get more exercise that way and be in better shape when race season began.
And every day he came and checked on the dogs. He brought them fresh food and water. I am sure he also petted every dog.
But then, one day, something happened to the man and he could not keep the dogs any more. So they were sold.
The worst part is, Painter and Ugly were sold to different new owners. I could only imagine how upset the two friends were!
I wondered what Ugly looked like. "Where is Ugly now?" I asked Mr. Holt. "I don't know," he said.
And I began to wonder- where was Ugly?
I stayed with the Holt family in their home for many days. I helped feed the dogs- and there were a lot of them because- don't forget- three different mushers were going to race: Mr. Holt, Jeff, and Taylar.
I worked with many dogs, but Painter remained my favorite.
I got to play with a lot of dogs.
I got to mush a dog team.
I got to clean up dog poop.
We also had to build a big box with lots of cubbies in it- to put the team in and drive them to the races.
It took all day to build the dog box.
It turned out very big and very heavy. It was difficult to get it on the truck.
Painter was very, very excited. He was so excited I wondered if he was hoping to see his friend Ugly in the race- Hey wait- that might be a really good story!