DOG SLEDDING IN ALASKA

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

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High on the list of things I know nothing about you would find mushing.  You know, mushing, like dogs pulling sleds through the snow.

So we drive to Seavey’s Kennel to see what this is all about.  There are about a hundred dogs and it appears that all they want to do is run.  We’re given a brief introduction:  sled dogs can be any northern breed of dog, their ideal running temperature is twenty below and they can run a really, really long way.  We learn that the Iditarod is a 1,000 mile dog sled race across the state of Alaska.  We quickly figure out that the Seaveys are the royal family of dog sled racing (and suddenly we understand the importance of the Seavey sled sitting outside Jack London’s Cabin).

Since there is no snow on the ground, we board a wheeled sled and dogs are selected to pull.  As the musher selects dogs, the kennel breaks out into a chorus of barks, each dog yelping and pleading to be chosen.  At the musher’s command, we are off and the pups are pulling us along at fifteen miles an hour or so.  The musher is soft spoken and his commands are gentle.  We get to chatting with him and he tells us that he has completed the Iditarod twice.  The folklore around the race is epic:  hypothermia and broken bones, sled crashes and improvised repairs, snowstorms and the glory of completing the race, mushers’ unwavering commitment to their dogs.  The sled pulls back into the kennel and we disembark.  And then: we meet the puppies.

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