Going into our 3rd week of sled-dog ownership, we still have a lot to learn – but, here are some details about the dogs and what goes into caring for them.
As you’ve probably seen in the movies, sled dogs are usually portrayed as huge fluffy Siberian Huskies. While Siberian’s and others like it can certainly pull sleds recreationally, they are not the breed for racing. Alaskan Huskies are dogs built for speed, endurance, and arctic temperatures. They are usually a mix of husky and hound and weigh more or less than 50lbs. We chose our dogs because we would like to try racing and we also like the smaller size; easier for the kids to handle. Since we knew that we wanted Alaskan Huskies, that helped narrow our research. We also wanted a team with mature dogs that were trained to know the gee/haw commands (right/left). We were fortunate to find StoneyCreek kennels in Tofte MN. and they offered us exactly what we wanted – an experienced team of six with the oldest being eight and the youngest being three. *More specifics on each dog pictured below.
Since we live in the suburbs (and we’re already pushing our boundaries with backyard chickens) we kennel the dogs eight minutes from our home. We lucked out again because our boarder (Fur-Ever Wild) is able to provide the dogs with fresh meat every day. The dogs are only fed once a day and there is a method to feeding race sled dogs. They are trained to eat very quickly (like on the trail) and it’s recommended that we do not feed them at the same time every day – as this would not happen on a long distance race. Each dog eats 1 pound of fresh meat and 1 cup of high protein dry food each day (Docs Choice). We put the meat and kibble together and pour water over it so it’s like a stew – that way, they stay extra hydrated. Dogs can get easily dehydrated in very cold temperatures. So far Fur-Ever Wild has fed them steak, burger and their favorite – fish! With so much raw meat, they do need to be given a de-worming pill every month.
I will get more into the techniques of training when we become better at it! For now, here are the dogs with descriptions below each photo.
This is Eddie – AKA: Fast Eddie. He is 7 years old. He’s the best leader and such a hard worker. When we harness him up and hook him to the line, he holds it tight for the rest of the team of be clipped in. And when we’re on the trail and stop, he looks back at me for direction. He is also extremely sweet and never growls at the other dogs -he’s a favorite for all of us.
This is Sid – Eddie’s brother. He is 6 years old and has the warmest brown eyes. He is also a leader but likes to be beside Eddie, not ahead of him. We kennel both Sid and Eddie together because they are so gentle and don’t even fight over food. Sid is probably the most gentle of the dogs – also a favorite!
Dejour (DJ) is 3 years old and is our only female. She the quirky one in the group. She’s the only dog that jumps up on us but when she does, it’s like she’s trying to give us a hug! It’s so funny. She’s crazy on the trail too; always jumping over the line and flirting with the boys. She loves attention and is one of my favorites.
This is our blue-eyed Jackson. He is 7 years old and shy and mellow. He’s very strong and a really good puller. Jackson is a good part of the team and with his stunning eyes, he seems to be a favorite of most people.
This is Hamilton. He is 10 years old and beautiful. Out of the 6 dogs, he looks most like a husky. Hammy is very reliable and even though he doesn’t like to lead, he’s a really hard worker. So far, he hasn’t seemed to care if he has much attention – he’s pretty independent. He is also a favorite.
This is Prophet. At 10 years old, he too is one of our oldest. He is our biggest dog and still very powerful. He has a really nice demeanor and pretty warm eyes. He bangs against the door when we enter the barn – and as you can see, he’s hard to photograph. Like the rest, he’s also a favorite!