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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 67: 30 November

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysThe dogs, sadly, have to be constantly stopped, while Passepartout scuttles off to another position. Marion's hardest task is to keep them down. To this end he employs a length of rolled-up paper ('it's just an old dog food packet') with which he slaps them cautionarily. He is embarrassed about doing it. 'The whapping doesn't usually go on, I want you to know that.' He claims that it's the noise of the impact rather than any pain that calms them. And the embarrassment. 'They just don't want to be the one that gets told off like that.'

The less experienced dogs are showing increasing reluctance to sit and wait, and the moment one of the older ones rises, the others follow, and whilst Marion's back is turned they're off, hauling me helplessly over a mound of cleared snow. A branch flicks down taking out my hat instead of my eye, but only just. Marion screams them to a halt and quite a bit of paper is applied. Much surly whining. The phrase 'mutinous dogs' comes to mind.

On the occasions when they are allowed a run the sensation is wonderful. The sled moves silently over the snow, and the air smells good and clean (apart from the more than occasional pungent odours from the dogs themselves who have to learn to defecate on the move). As we toil back up the last hill, Marion becomes softer with the dogs. 'I'm going to barbecue you.' The dog gazes happily up at him. 'You're a real knucklehead today,' he tells another. I ask him if he knows every dog in the kennel by name.

'Yep! And I know their mother and their father and their grandfather and their grandmother.' Because of the exigencies of filming we've travelled maybe four or five miles, and it's frustrating when you think these dogs think nothing of 100 miles a day. A bit more snow and they could have taken me to Chicago.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 67
  • Date: 30 November
  • Country/sea: USA
  • Place: Snowmass Village - Colorado
  • Book page no: 221

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