By Teslin Marie Ruge Age 10
Intro: Dog sledding is a very fun sport. There are 2 different breeds of Huskies. Huskies are the breeds that pull sleds in the winter and whenever there is snow. They also run races pulling their masters…. also called musher’s over the snow on the trail. They also do long trips over the snow and even the ice. There is also a sport called skijoring which is when you get pulled on your skies by a dog.
The Siberian husky: The Siberian husky is the breed that the mushers usually use for long or short trips. They love to run, but they are not usually used for races, because they are not as fast as the Alaskan Husky, the other breed of Huskies. This breed of husky also makes good outdoor pets. They are also known to be great and gentle with children and adults. They have a lot of layers of fur, so they can get really hot being inside. When they are sleeping outside in the snow or cold, they wrap their bushy and warm tails around their nose and face to stay warm. In Denali National Park, they use Siberian huskies to patrol the park in the winter when all the roads are closed. Their job is to make sure that no one is hunting in the park or doing damage to the park. When there is no snow, the rangers use trucks and ATV’s to patrol. They will also hike the back country. In the fall, when there is not any snow, they start to condition the dogs by letting the dogs pull ATV’s to train them for winter. At this point, the puppies that were born the previous spring start to go along with the sled and begin their training. A lot of the training is taught by the adult dogs as well as the rangers. In the winter, they will go out for up to three weeks and will stop at little cabins to rest where there is food and a fireplace where the Rangers can warm up. Meanwhile, the dogs stay outside and curl up in the snow for warmth. They usually stay at these cabins for 1 to 2 days.
The Alaskan Husky: The Alaskan Husky has a lot of things that are different from the Siberian husky. First of all, the Alaskan Husky’s are fast and skinny and are always used for races. They are like this because the musher almost always asks the breeders to breed them with fast and long legged dogs, including hounds and hunting dogs. The mushers want this because they want their dogs to be fast.
Mushers: Musher’s are the owners of the dogs. They run the dogs on trails, do races with the dogs, and take care of them. The mushers use the commands “Gee”, “Haw”, “Hike”, and “Easy” to control the dogs. The command “Gee” is to turn left, ‘Haw” is to turn right, “Easy” is to make the dogs slow down or stop, and “Hike” is to make them go faster. Since it is very cold weather, the mushers have to wear a lot of warmth. They have to also wear a protective coat. A protective coat is to protect you if you fall off the sled while being pulled. When racing, the mushers often put coats on their dog team so they will not get too cold to race. They will also put booties on the Alaskan Huskies because without them they will get chunks of ice in their pads which can cut them. They don’t put booties on the Siberian Huskies because their foot pads and feet are especially adapted to the cold and snow and they can even go through slushy ice and water without booties.
The Works: The sleds are usually really strong and light. Today, the sleds are usually made of Kevlar and carbon fibers so that they are light. In the past, they used to use wooden sleds but they got too heavy for racing. The runners are the part of the sled that slides along the snow and support the rest of the sled. They are usually made of aluminum and are covered with plastic on the bottom. This provides a slick surface and also reduces drag. The footboards stand on top of the runners and are what the Mushers stand on. They are usually made of rubber or some non-skid material. They are usually narrow and stand at the end of the runners. The bush brow is the bumper of the sled and is right out in front. It is there is to deflect tree and bush branches and to take collisions and hits. The cargo bed is where all the food and supplies are stored during a trip or a race. The sleds always have a handlebar so the Mushers can hold on. Sleds also have a brake. The brake is an aluminum or steel bar that is in a U shape. Two metal claws hang down fro m the bar. When stepped on, the claws dig into the snow and stop or slow the team. If this doesn’t work, the Musher will usually turn over the sled on purpose to make drag.
THE IDITAROD This race is more than 1,150 miles from Anchorage, in south Central Alaska, to Nome, or the Western coast of the Bering Sea. Each team of 12 to 16 dogs and their Musher cover the entire course in times that range from under d10 days to three weeks. The race begins in Anchorage on the first Saturday in March with a run in the downtown area. Then the dogs are trucked in cars 40 miles north to Wasilla where the official race begins.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I chose to study sled dogs because I, Mom, Dad, and Cassidy went to two different kennels in Alaska and I was really interested in the dogs so I decided to do them for a report and put them on the blog. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Please comment if any of you know anything about sled dogs and if I got anything wrong. My e-mail is email@example.com.