Frequently Asked Questions
Q— What breed of dog do you run?
A— We run Alaskan huskies. They are a special mix breed that is bred for their strength, endurance, and speed. Must competitive musher run Alaskan huskies, but there are a few Siberian husky teams too.
Q— How often do they run?
A— The dogs for the most part get some of April through September off, with light exercises. By September, the dogs get back to training with a four wheeler till the snow hits. They start back running short 5 mile runs with breaks to build strength and endurance back up. We try to run almost daily, but just like human athletes the dogs need rest times too.
Q—How long do they run for once trained up?
A—Every musher is different on how they run. Depending on weather and trail conditions, we like to train our dogs to run about 50-70 miles at a time. That’s miles ran till stopping and feeding a big meal and resting the dogs; they will get snacks, little water, or rest stops here and there while running long runs like that. Most of the top Iditarod teams average a little over 100 miles a day, but it depends on the dogs, how they have been trained, and conditions. When it’s colder the dogs will run faster and a little longer than when it’s warmer.
Q— Do the dogs get cold?
A—The dogs like the temperature best when it is between 10f and -10f. When it is too warm some dogs can over heat, so when it is in the 20s we have to keep an eye on a few of ours. It’s just like when a human goes out for a jog on a cool morning with a light coat on, the body produces heat and causes sweat, same goes for dogs, except they can’t take their fur jacket off to cool down. When it starts getting colder we have different types of dog coats depending on the weather.
Q— Do their feet get cold?
A—Dogs actually sweat through their feet. The booties that they wear on their feet are to protect them. The snow can build up in the webbing of their feet to make ice balls. These ice balls can cut their feet, making where they can’t run until healed. The booties are warn anytime they go out for long runs, when it’s really cold, and depending on snow conditions.
Q—How old are they when they start, finish running?
A—Sled dogs are born to run. The pups grow up doing certain things like free running and getting the hang of things like climbing over small obstacles. At about 4 months, the pups get use to wearing a harness. Then a few months later, they start pulling small stuff and build up to heavier stuff. They then start pulling a sled for about a half mile and slowly build up to longer runs, not too long through maybe a couple miles. A sled dog is about two years when they get to run a med distance (100-300mile) race. The dogs are all different, just like humans, so it’s hard to give a certain age most are around nine or ten when they slow down too much for a race team.
Q—What happens to a dog once they are done racing?
A—Once the dogs have retired from the racing team, most of them still run with smaller teams and are used for sled rides. Sometimes dogs are rehomed, and sometimes they may have injuries that cause them to not be able to run. Our kennel has a big fenced in yard where the dogs can run free. We also have a few that have become house dogs.
Q—How fast do they run?
A—Our dogs normally run 8-10mph depending on the conditions. If it is too warm the dogs will slow down. Also if there is a foot of snow on the trail, as pose to a smooth trail, the dogs will go slower, because of more resistance.
Q—where does the sled rides in willow take place?
A—We run our longer rides out of Eagle Quest Lodge in Willow. It is a safe place to run sled rides. People are able to go inside warm up, change clothes, and they even have great food.
Q—What should we wear?
A—It is always best to dress warm and in layers. If you are concerned with clothing let us know, as we may have some to offer.
Q—How old do you have to be for a sled ride?
A—There is not an age limit, it really depends on the person and type of ride. We have had month old babies with adult on shorter rides.