• Jennifer Hennessey Bremseth

Born to run

Let’s features the stars of this Iditarod show this morning! The competive sled canines here in Alaska, particularly the 742 registered to trek the Iditarod, are bred to want to go, go, go! Contrary to beliefs, most of the dogs are Alaskan huskies which owes much heritage to the Siberian husky and malamute. The Alaskan husky is not officially recognized by the AKC, but is created by taking the best of the best with mixing qualities for both athletic endurance and personality. According to Iditarod lead vet Dr Stu Nelson “these marathon runners may have some border collie, hound, or pointer mixed in.” Many of the sled pups are smaller than imagined and are around 45lbs in size. Remember, these efficient work dogs down almost 13 thousands calories per day so a larger “athlete“ only adds additional challenges! An impressive fact to consider ... unlike many other sports... in the sled dog world genders are equal. From the mushers to the determined dogs themselves, “male versus female” has no place on the trail. Men and women compete as equals and same with the canines! Age of musher to amazing mutt as well varies; dogs can be 1-12 years, though the average furry finisher is between 3-6. Social butterflies to boot, the sled dog is picked by personality as a good attitude and friendly nature are a must for optimum performance. Mushers need their pack to have their own social skills as the teams work in large groups. A sweet demeanor is also necessary for off season tourist visitors as well as througout the race. These kind canines meet many along the trail such as veterinarians like myself, media, mushers, and the masters of the skies known as the Iditarod airforce pilots. Idita-dogs must happily put up with people in many ways so aggressiveness may have them hanging back at the house or with the handlers.

The perfect package of super pup performers, the Alaskan sled dogs are ready to “slay” as we begin events today!

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