I had the opportunity to go to the summer training camp for the Iditarod mushers and dogs in Juneau on September 9th. There was a light rain falling and it was cool. When we arrived at the camp, you could feel the excitement of the dogs as they were ready to work. Alot of the Iditarod dogs come to this summer camp to train on gravel by pulling 6 seat golf carts filled with tourists with their musher behind the cart. We were lucky to have Jeff as our musher and he introduced us to his dogs. He told us the golf cart weighs about 500 lbs with up to 6 passengers who have just got off a cruise ship. Very good training for his team.
We were told not to approach the dogs as they were geared to work and they were already in their harnesses ready to mush. We all climbed into the cart and off we went. The trail was gradual up and down hills as well as turns. The lead dogs are the ones that take the command and the bigger stronger dogs are in the back. The ride lasted about 10 minutes and the dogs were working really hard.
Our team of dogs were mostly male Alaskan huskies. These dogs looked like almost any other mixed breed at the shelters but have been breed to be strong, lean, smart, and can excel in temperatures below 60 degrees. The sled dogs were wet, muddy, and stinky so we didn't pet any of them.
Team ready to mush.
We got a little lecture about the history of the Iditarod and also got to hold 3 month old puppies. The pair of them were sweet and wriggly. I was tempted to tuck one into my jacket to bring home, but after being told that these were bred to be working dogs, I could just imagine the destruction at home. Even after retirement, these dogs have to be working and must live in a cold climate. That wouldn't work at my house!
Sugar getting a little cuddle.
Pretending to be a musher.
Jeff, our musher, who has run the Iditarod.
Jeff's lead dogs. He stated the girls were the best at being lead dogs (as in life).