Monday, February 09, 2009

Dog sled racing

This weekend Jasper and I went to see the annual dog sled race. The race is a series of stages that start in Wyoming and finish at Park City. You can find more info about the race here.

We mostly go to let Jasper watch hundreds of barking, frenzied dogs. He does remarkably well, only letting out an occasional bark. I can't tell if he is barking at them or cheering for them. He even sits still enough to let me use my camera.

One of my biggest surprises is the choice of dogs. We've all seen TV and movies from Alaska with a long line of fluffy Huskies. Talking to an ex-sledder, she said that the Huskies had gotten too stocky over the years. They mix them with hounds to get a smaller, leaner dog but still keeping the Huskies' double coat. At 55 pounds, Jasper is way to big to be on a team. He was heart broken.

These dogs live to run and to eat. That's it. When they get hooked to the sled's harness, they just go berserk trying to pull. Notice that two of them are bouncing up in the air and the one in front of them is already pulling hard.

It might be hard to see in the picture, but they had to tie the sleds to a parking sign to keep the dogs from leaving ahead of time. The rope was very tight.

This guy was doing just fine until one dog, so excited that he was finally running, bounced in the air and landed on the other side of the dog next to him. Of course, this tangles the harness and makes a mess of everything.

You have to stop the sled, pick up the bouncy dog, put him back on the correct side, and start again, hoping you haven't lost too much time.

These are some of the more Husky-like dogs, just past the starting line. Look at how hard all of them are pulling.

In talking to the ex-sledder, she mentioned how physically demanding it can be on the human. Keeping everything going smoothly and in the right direction with eight crazy dogs pulling can be quite hard. This girl, who was in second place overall, is only 15. She is the youngest driver to ever run the race. Most of the drivers were in their 30s and 40s. You go girl!!

Jasper and I took a behind the scenes walk to see what you had to do to compete in dog sledding. The travel vehicles were hilarious. They looked like some screwed up version of the truck on the Beverly Hillbillies. Sleds go on top. Dogs each get a little kennel. Lots of room for food, harnesses, repair equipment, ....

I'm guessing these aren't stock trucks you go down and order at your local Ford dealer.

As always, it's a lot of fun to get out and see something different. There are just so many hobbies and sports to pick from. I don't think this will be my choice. Julie might be ticked if I started bringing home dozens of dogs and breeding them.
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