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THE CHATTER BOX

 
  
  
  The Chatter Box : Blathering On
  
  
  
 
Messages 1 2 

Sled-dog race in Alaska by Lounge Trekker on 7 January 2009 7:17am
 
I just watched the television start of the Iditarod sled dog race across the state of Alaska. 1000 miles of snow, ice, mountains, tundra and rivers. What prompts me to tell about this is the phone call I made just prior to watching this program.

Scott is a banker who lives on a quarter-section in northern BC, Canada. He and his wife have a dwindling bunch of sled dogs. The most they had was twenty five. When I visited they had thirteen. These guys are bred to run.

I was fortunate the summer temperature was low enough to harness eight dogs to a four-wheeler (motorcycle, about 5-600 pounds) and they pulled us (about 400 pounds of man) a half mile or so at a running pace. Absolutely amazing! How fast do they go on snow? How fast does a quick, fit, rambunctious dog run?

I'm running out of time. I told Scott I would come up there in the winter with my hockey gear so I would feel protected enough to take them for a run. Their time as mushers is running out. A new litter would commit them to another fifteen years and they want to retire with mobility.

Lounge Musher
 
Re: Sled-dog race in Alaska by suzulu on 7 January 2009 11:56am
 
I would love to have a go at that. The dogs look as though they are enjoying themselves too.
 
Re: Sled-dog race in Alaska by tucsonmike on 7 January 2009 12:01pm
 
Mush!
 
Re: Sled-dog race in Alaska by Spursfan on 7 January 2009 1:38pm
 
*How fast does a quick, fit, rambunctious dog run?*

If its name is Tosun, like a bullet!!

:)
 
Re: Sled-dog race in Alaska by sighthound on 7 January 2009 2:14pm
 
Ooooohh! Can I come with you, Pete??? I've always wanted to go sledding behind a team of those amazing dogs and to learn more about that wonderful sport. (The sire of my very first saluki went to Alaska to add speed to the sled dog gene pool. You can see a lot of sighthound under those furry coats of the Iditarod competitors.)

The dogs obviously enjoy themselves. You can see that there is nothing else that they'd rather do than running full out over the snow despite what the Iditarod detractors would like you to think. Few animals are as lovingly and carefully cared for as the Iditarod dogs.
 
Re: Sled-dog race in Alaska by Lounge Trekker on 7 January 2009 5:19pm
 
Having met thirteen sled dogs a few years ago, and had the chance to mush with them...no question they are enjoying themselves. They are bred for it. When we pulled out the harness we had to 'fight' off the five dogs chosen to be left behind.

The treatment of sled dogs by mushers is very good. Some treat them like family, but the serious racers keep them separated during the weeks before the race to maximuze their zeal for running.

Ididarod is a big deal. There are bushplanes at every stop ready to evacuate a dog to veterinary care. A squadron of airplanes, the Ididarod Air Force spends weeks in advance of the race carrying in provisions distributed along the course.

During the weeks long race, people are pushed beyond their limits and professionals monitor this to prevent injury or permanent disability. After a day of sledding, working with the dogs, the mushers are extrememly tired, but the first thing is to spread hay for the dogs to lie on and feed them. I heard last night that it is only 800 miles long...1287 kms.

Mush Trekker
 
Re: Sled-dog race in Alaska by peripatetically on 7 January 2009 11:43pm
 
I don't know. I guess I'm just too much of a softee. I hear all good things about the Iditarod but I have trouble thinking about those dogs running so far, so fast and in such miserable conditions. Glad the helicopters are at the ready, though, Pete.
 
Re: Sled-dog race in Alaska by Lounge Trekker on 8 January 2009 1:31am
 
Having met several mushers, one I've known since the late '70's, I don't think they can knowingly take one of their dogs into something harmful. Oh, hey, no doubt it can be an ordeal but that is what the hundreds of support people are for, to make sure everyone comes through unharmed. Changed, toughened, a little bit hardenend and maybe not willing to do it again, but unharmed. Stronger people, tougher dogs.

I think if a dog team must be removed from the race, the dogs will be somewhat distraught and the musher in tears. Hey, I don't want to spend one night in the snow these days, but here are hundreds of people, and ten times that many dogs, and they all want to be there.

Remember, these dogs live in these conditions, and running is what they do. They aren't city dogs taken out of a warm dry bed and made to run. They are 16 to a team and pull about five pounds each. It's a running race, not a pulling race. And they do it with the person they love most on the sled behind, talking, coaxing, encouraging them.

Pete
 
Re: Sled-dog race in Alaska by TERRY S on 8 January 2009 2:30am
 
Wow are you lucky or what? You would love the Benedict Allen's Ice Dogs video! if you are interested visit:

http://www.benedictallen.com/benedict-allen-videos-dvds.htm

Then scroll down to the right one to order. Also look for Into the Abyss which is the book about Ice Dogs.
 
Re: Sled-dog race in Alaska by Lounge Trekker on 8 January 2009 4:53am
 
If I can do this Geraldine, I'll call! They are down to eight dogs so time is short. It will need to wait until next year.

Terry, I still have only done a dry run behind dogs. They were harnessed to pull us two men sitting on a four-wheeler motorized ATV. I have been around dog teams if that's what you mean. There is nothing like that within a great long distance of where I live now.

Pete
 
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