Francois and Perrault expect their dogs to obey them implicitly. As "fair men, calm and impartial in administering justice," Francois and Perrault expect their dogs to give them their money's worth in energy, courage, and determination.
Francois frequently uses the whip to demand "instant obedience." Neither man harbors sentimental feelings about the dogs. Francois and Perrault expect their animals to know their place and to abide by strict rules. For example, Buck tries to enter Perrault and Francois' tent when he has trouble sleeping one night. Upon entry, Buck is immediately "bombarded with curses and cooking utensils." Without recourse, Buck has to go back out into the cold. It is Billee, a friendly Husky, who saves Buck. Billee shows Buck how to burrow down into the snow so that he can keep warm and protect himself from the elements.
Meanwhile, Perrault, as a courier for the Canadian government, is anxious to secure only the fastest dogs. He is a highly ambitious man and is focused on protecting only his material interests. When a group of wild, starving huskies fall upon the camp and attack the sled dogs, Perrault shows little sympathy for the grievous wounds his dogs suffer. He is focused only upon the four hundred miles the team has yet to travel. Without delay, he mercilessly harnesses the dogs for the remaining journey, despite their injuries. Perrault drives the dogs on, even though the temperature registers fifty below zero.
Perrault and Francois' ruthless behavior leads to one dog losing her wits. Dolly, a female Husky, announces her madness with a "long, heartbreaking wolf howl that sent every dog bristling with fear...." Because both men can tolerate no delays in the journey, Francois cuts Dolly down with an ax. To Francois and Perrault, the dogs are expendable resources. They expect unquestioning loyalty and unwavering purpose from their dogs and will do whatever is needed to have their expectations met.