This weekend we saw our first sled dog race. A Mid-Union Sled Haulers (M.U.S.H.) race. It was a perfect day for spectators. 20 degrees and sunny. About 8 inches of snow on the trails. We watched the 5-dog event and the very exciting 7-dog event. We also watched one and two-dog skijoring. In skijoring, a cross-country skier wears a harness and is connected to dogs by a length of rope. The dogs are also harnessed. The skier skis like crazy and the dogs run like crazy.
Before their races, we walked around and met the dogs. All of them seemed to be in game day mode. Some paced a bit. Some barked. Many rested calmly. They were well-fed, well-groomed, and well-hydrated as all fine athletes must be.
Every team had its top dog. This alpha, leading a 7-dog team, was howling in wolf-like fashion as the team’s handlers were harnessing the dogs into place. The message? I imagined: “Team…this is it! This is what we live for! The chance to run full out and show what we’re made of!”
There were many young people tending to the dogs. Feeding and watering them. Shoveling up LOTS of poop because that’s a M.U.S.H. must. Leave nothing but pawprints behind.
M.U.S.H. allows no whips. Except in the one-dog event, each musher must carry a dog bag. If a dog is hurt, he’ll be picked up by the musher, tucked into the bag (on the sled) and packed out by his buddies. I came away feeling that these folks understand the responsibility that comes with participating in a two-species sport.
Enjoy some scenes from the day. My next post will feature some amazing musher hats–including some knit with yarn spun from dog hair.