Friday, February 29, 2008

Countdown to Iditarod

Is it time to brush up on your mushing terminology? Just review this list of commonly used mushing and sled dog race words. A well trained mushing dog must have good mastery of basic obedience in addition to any mushing specific commands introduced here.
  • Alaskan husky: a northern dog of mixed breed, usually used to denote those bred for racing.

  • Basket: the main body of a sled, where passengers or gear may be carried.

  • Booties: slippers for dogs, worn while working under certain conditions to prevent ice forming between their toes. Made of a wide range of fabrics, including fleece and Gore-tex.

  • Brushbow: the curved piece out in front of the main body of a sled, designed to stop brush from damaging the sled.

  • Dog Bag: a fabric bag carried on a race sled, used to put a sick or injured dog into in order to carry him to a place where he can be cared for.

  • Dog Box: a carrier for several dogs, most often seen as a wooden structure in the bed of a pickup truck. Styles vary widely, but usually built with individual sections that hold one or two dogs each.

  • Driving Bow: the handle that the musher holds on to - also called a Handlebow.

  • Easy!: the command for the dogs to slow down.

  • Gangline: the main line that the dogs and sled are attached to.

  • Gee: the command for the dogs to turn right.

  • Handler: a person who assists the musher.

  • Harness: a webbing of fabric that fits a dog snugly, to which the Tugline and Neckline are attached.

  • Haw: the command for the dogs to turn left.

  • Hike!: the command to get the dog team moving.

  • Husky: in common usage, any northern breed dog - properly, a Siberian Husky.

  • Iditarod: most famous for the name of a competitive sled dog race, but also has native meanings

  • Lead Dogs: the dog or dogs in the front of a team. These dogs are noted for their high level of intelligence and drive, and are often females. May be run as Single lead (1 dog) or Double lead (2 dogs).

  • Mush!: many people think this is the term used to get a team going - Hike! is most commonly used.

  • Musher: a person who drives a sled dog team - also called a Dog Driver.

  • Neckline: a short line (10-12 inches) attached to the Harness and Gangline, that keeps the dog in line.

  • On By!: the command to go by another team or other distraction.

  • Pedaling: pushing with one foot while keeping the other on the sled.

  • Point Dogs: used by some mushers to denote the two dogs right behind the Lead Dogs. Others call them Swing Dogs.

  • Rigging: all the gear used to attach dogs to a sled.

  • Runners: the narrow pieces of wood that a sled rides on. Usually have a replaceable plastic layer to reduce maintenance. The runners extend behind the Basket so the Musher can stand on them.

  • Safety Line: an extra line from the Gangline to the sled, in case the main fitting breaks.

  • Snow Hook: a large metal hook that can be driven into firm snow to anchor a team for a short period of time without tying them.

  • Snub Line: a rope attached to the back of the sled, which can be tied to a tree to hold the team when the snow is not firm enough to use a Snow Hook.

  • Stakeout: a main chain with separate short chains to attached several dogs to. May be strung between the front and back bumpers of a truck, or between two trees.

  • Stanchions: the upright pieces that attach the runners to a sled.

  • Swing Dogs: depending on which musher you're talking to, either the two dogs directly behind the Lead Dogs, or those between the Point Dogs and the Wheel Dogs.

  • Tack: harnesses.

  • Team Dogs: all dogs other than the Lead Dogs, Point Dogs, Swing Dogs and Wheel Dogs.

  • Toboggan: a sled with a flat bottom instead of runners. Used when deep, soft snow is expected instead of a good trail.

  • Tuglines: the main line that connects the dog's harness to the Gangline - the line that the dog tugs on.

  • Village Dogs: a derogatory term for poorly socialized dogs of unknown breeding.

  • Wheel Dogs: the two dogs right in front of the sled. These will normally be the heaviest dogs in the team.

  • Whoa: the command to get the dog team to stop. Mushing terminology/dictionary written by DogSled.Com also has a great collection of links for all things Iditarod.The Iditarod starts tomorrow, Sat, Mar 1, 10:00 a.m. (Anchorage time) at Downtown Anchorage at the Corner of 4th Avenue & D Streets. With the real start (restart) set to occur Sun, Mar 2, 2:00 p.m. departing from Willow. A great overview of anticipated trail conditions is HERE. Considering the immense and ever changing landscape and shifts in the weather that one encounters during this intense race, it is anyone's guess what the conditions will be in the end. There are 96 entrants this year. HERE is a good run down on who to keep an eye on, in terms of placing and winning this incredible race. And the musher line up is very interesting as well, for they each have a story to tell. I am psyched to see how the race goes and am rooting of course, for all the dogs mostly. Racing images are from (ADDENDUM:have ALL been deleted. TO view visit :) Iditarod photo gallery page or (addendum) HERE for daily photos from the trail, like these beauties taken at the ceromonial start Mar 1. Notice Lance Mackey's dog, airborne in its excitement to go!Additional pics from Magali P on FLICKR (she has a pretty cool, and biligual blog) as well, with lots more dog related prose and photos.
Note RE: OBEDIENCE CLASSES: If you took my advice last week and adopted a new pup you are eligible for free obedience classes starting tomorrow, and every Saturday, from March 1, through April 12 - at 12:30 (puppy) and 1:45 (adult). These classes are at The Farm Store at 3956 Jacob's Avenue. Cost is $65, but the first three classes are FREE to anyone who has recently adopted a dog. Farm store # 707 443 7397. Classes are taught by Michelle Stone, and cover the basics,and beyond. It is so important to invest both good energy, and discipline into your dog. The years you share together will be enhanced by this groundwork. If you think you love your pup now, take him/her to obedience classes and you will love your obedient dog even more! And your obedient dog will trust and obey you for a lifetime. Sweet and happy days will be in the future for both of you. See you there, or on the Iditarod trail! Photo below from Here.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Iditarod Invitational

The World's Longest Human Powered Winter Race
350 miles or 1100 miles
These folks have it going on, truly. This is not a dog powered activity, but it is a race inspired by the dog teams of Alaska. It is basically a mountain bike, ski or foot race of 350 or 1100 miles. The bike riders have super suped up bikes, and the walkers pull a sled with their gear behind them the whole way. This event, which started yesterday, goes on around the clock. Participants are allowed to prearrange for food drops only; all gear must be carried. The racers pack for daily caloric consumption of over 6000 calories, and will still drop body weight over the course of the race. A good sport for big eaters! THIS BLOG , written by a couple of self professed big eaters, goes into great detail about the intense caloric needs and the importance of fun food groups like chocolate. They intend to get 50% of their calories from fat. Photos above by Whit Richardson, those below are from blogs referenced, and the map is from race site. Here is another fun filled Arctic Athlete BLOG of one of the bikers...and JILL HOMER is racing too. I can't even comprehend attempting to hoof it. Pretty brave and strong souls. Note: This year they will take the northern dark colored route. The Map of the route:
Time limit to complete the 1100? 30 days. For the 350 you have just 10 days. To Find ongoing race results Check the LeaderBoard HERE or the latest news HERE. ADDENDUM: as of Thursday the 28th the first bike rider has arrived in McGrath at 4:20 am! ADDENDUM 2: Great coverage of the race and additional commentary featured on the NPR site HERE.

Friday, February 22, 2008

HOT DOGS!! Get 'em Now!

HANK -Just one year old. Below, TATUM - 8 months old. Then ZACK, 1 year 9 months old.
To participate in Dog Powered Sports you need at least one dog. Our own local shelter in Mckinleyville is absolutely brimming right now with a super variety of potentially good running mates. Many are being held two to a kennel, and others that have been there the longest, are at risk of being put down. Please help these pups escape the black dog syndrome, (black dogs tend to languish in the shelters a long time, and as a result have much higher euthanasia rates than any other color of dog) find yourself a friend for life, and maybe a new hobby too! Dog mushing activities are known to give you a strong physique, mental clarity, a deep bond with nature, and Joie de Vivre! Dog shopping starts here. Remember, that although we can not save every dog that finds itself in the shelters of this world, we can change the life for the one(s) we do adopt. Please consider doing it today.
Check out Linus -he' s 2 1/2 years old. Good pup!

If you are visiting this blog from parts unknown (I'm amazed and happy to report that India, Canada, Finland, Britain, Saudi Arabia, many of the 50 US states, and other random countries have all passed through the suhummusher portal) don't hesitate to make a visit to your own local shelter or rescue group and find a lifelong friend. They will love you for it. Me too.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Whitehorse Finish Line 2:15 a.m. 2/20/08

As the bobbing light of a headlamp came around the corner on First Avenue in Whitehorse approaching the Yukon Quest Finish Chute, the enthusiastic crowd of almost five hundred well wishers held their breath – was it Lance? Was it Ken?

Earlier this afternoon, Lance Mackey had left the last Checkpoint in Braeburn 19 minutes before rival Ken Anderson and reports along the trail to Whitehorse had placed the two mushers eight minutes apart at one stage.

Mackey glides over the Finish Line.

All evening the excitement was palpable as it was truly anybody’s race.

That bobbing light was Lance Mackey – who at 1:23 a.m. crossed the Finish line and made history with his fourth consecutive Yukon Quest victory.

“It feels better because it was so challenging, it feels nice,” said Mackey when asked about win number four. “I’m really impressed with my team, they were up for anything you threw at them.”

“Hats off to Ken too,” continued Mackey as he snacked his dogs. “He really kept me on my toes.”

Ken Anderson glided in to the Finish Chute a mere 15 minutes after Mackey, who was the first person to approach and congratulate Anderson.

“Great race,” said Lance.

“Yeah, you too,” replied Ken.

Mackey was the first to congratulate Anderson.

“Almost everything went how I planned,” said the soft-spoken Anderson. “This was probably the best race I’ve ever had.”

When asked if he’d do it again Anderson replied that he’d had fun and would like to run the Yukon Quest again.

Anderson takes questions from reporters.

Both mushers will now rest in Whitehorse through Saturday to attend the Yukon Quest Meet the Mushers event and the Finish and Awards Banquet. They will then make their way to attend the Iditarod veterinary check next Tuesday.

A tight race for third place in the Yukon Quest is still on in Braeburn. David Dalton and Michelle Phillips are set to leave the checkpoint following their mandatory eight-hour layover at 9:15 a.m. and 9:42 a.m. respectively.
****** ********* ********* ********** ********** *********

The above article is from the Yukon Quest website under current-news

For more information on individual standings, and final standings (it is not over yet) check out race-updates

On an interesting note, one musher, Donald Smidt, was withdrawn for
"failing to provide dog care expected of a Yukon Quest participant." There is some commentary on his withdrawal HERE . He required approximately 22 hours to complete the 99-mile opening leg from Fairbanks to Chena Hot Springs. A leg that other racers completed in about 12. More discussion about it HERE. Oh, and if you think the whole thing is abusive and insane, you'll like this grrl. or SledWatchDog.

MY OWN MUSHING has come to a virtual standstill, as I have been sidelined with a chronic hip condition that has flared up something wicked for the last two weeks! I finally bit the bullet and went in for a chiropractic adjustment where I was told, the pain in my body is not due to a lack of Advil. heh heh.. Hopefully I'm on the mend, and can soon return to fast and fun times on the trail.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Three Links and One Quick Book Review

arctic MOUNTAINBIKING goddess You must see it to believe it...I know, not dog powered, but pretty damn thrilling none the less. This girl and her pimped out ride are tough!YukonQuest which is considered the 1000 mile warm-up to the Iditerod, is underway now (started Feb 9) and is proving to be a fascinating race. Lance Mackey who won both the Yukon Quest AND the Iditarod last year, is currently in the lead. His story is very inspiring. Both his brothers have raced and won the Iditerod (victory for both on their 6th race). Last year Lance, after surviving cancer, won the Yukon Quest and with just a one week rest, took virtually the same team out, and ran and won the Iditarod. (his 6th run...cosmic)

The Iditarod starts March 1st. Be sure and browse their site. It features inspiring video clips, great educator links, and of course, amazing Alaska scenery. Photos above are from (deleted - to view visit:) the websites featured.

And now,
a Quick BOOK Review:
Ski Spot Run: This is an well put together book on skijoring specifically and other dog powered sports generally.

For those of you who have never heard of skijoring, take note:
(ski·jor·ing n. [modif. of Norw skikjøring, fr. ski + kjøring driving]: a winter sport in which a person wearing skis is drawn over snow by one or more dogs)

This book was written by Matt Haakenstad and John Thompson w/illustrations by Jack Lunde. It is an entertaining book with comical sections describing certain events on the trail, written from the point of view of the humans, and then the pups! Very insightful, and
humorous! Here is a link to an essay by a young lad that also appears in the book, it is titled My First Skijoring Experience. In it, he captures the passion that rises in one that feels the call of nature, and the pull of canine power. One amusing question the authors pose to the reader early on, is "Was Murphy's law originally written with skijoring in mind?" They then illustrate their conviction that indeed it was, by coining various new Murphy's Laws, such as " The probability of falling or crashing, as well as the apparent severity (e.g.,spectator WOW factor) of stated fall or crash, is a function of the number of persons in the immediate vicinity. " The same zany logic is applied to many other areas of skijoring, and aspects of it, like improperly positioned harnesses for instance. The degree of screw-up, is of course, directly related to the dogs wriggling and fussing while you try to remedy it! This book is full of good information, plenty of great pictures and skillful illustrations, with clear descriptions of all the basic gear, commands and important safety tips. There is a thorough description of bikjoring with tips and photos as well. They cover scootering and skating behind your pooch too. I highly recommend this book to those interested in learning more about this fascinating world of dog powered sports. SkiSpotRun is available here ..Of course now I want my own skijor belt and a pair of x-country skis... for the 3 times a year it snows at my place...
Beautiful pups...i love the two shots below they look like my doggies! All pictures are from SKIJORNOW!
From world Championships
Birgitte Naess, Norway

Photo by Jack Kuntz

Friday, February 8, 2008

Snow Video II Bikejoring into the Light

It is weird to be posting this now. The weather has shifted and although we are still getting very wet and muddy on our runs, the snow has all melted. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

S'No Business Like Snow Business!

We've been having a blast in the snow and mud. After finding the perfect goretex accessories I am now good-to-go, in any kind of funkiness. Right now, especially in the park, even when it's not raining, the ground is so saturated I get absolutely covered in mud spray off the tires~!~

Having the right gear makes a wet outing
too much fun!


What is up with the endless upload to YOUtube?? ...and I have satellite! ....hmmmmm... I wonder if there is a way for me to drag and drop them here?I tried blogger video upload and it seems even slower...?

C U later...

...i know... I still want to share the review of SkiSpotRun. Plus, I read another great mushing book;
Travelers of the Cold -Sled Dogs of the Far North, which was amazing.