2012 M.U.S.H. sled dog races, Clear Lake State Park

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.[nggallery id=13]


12 thoughts on “2012 M.U.S.H. sled dog races, Clear Lake State Park

  1. This is something I want to do someday! Thank you again for sharing your photos. How incredible. The very first photo where the husky is up on his hind legs? That looks exactly like my Timber who died almost a year ago. They are awesome dogs.

  2. @Christina…I’m pleased that the photo conjured up fond memories of Timber. This lead Husky was AMAZING. He was up on his back legs, had the attention of the entire pack (not to mention all the observers) and he was more howling than barking!

  3. Wanted to thank you for such a great write up. You have a picture of me sitting on my lil’sled w/my Bernese Mountain Dog Wintrye So Truly Huny. Hope some might enjoy seeing other things we do on Face Book at Michigan Draft Dogs
    Joy Cowles
    Bellaire, MI

  4. @Joy…thanks so much for checking out the photos. Your dog was so gentle and calm—I was so impressed!

  5. @Orrin…thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. This was our first sled dog races–it was way cool!

  6. Noreen, Joy & I went over together for the fun day ~ I was there when you snapped the candid photo of Joy & 9 yr old Huny-B just chillin’ out together, when we arrived that am it was -10 !! We kicksled w/ our dogs, but not that day, Joy did enjoy scooting around on hers, the original intention of that type of sled.

  7. Awesome write up! I’m glad you had a good time at your first race. I was there racing in the 5-dog. 🙂

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