|Dehydration||My dog doesn't pull||Winter camping|
|What is a bootie?||
Depending on the temperature and snow conditions the dogs are running with little “ shoes “ made from Fleece or Cordura, which are fastened with stretch Velcro on the dogs feet before the run. Unfortunately the do not last too long, usually no more than 30 km for Fleece and 80 km for Cordura booties.
|What is an Alaskan Husky?||An Alaskan Husky is a mixed breed and which has been used in the Alaskan Villages for many decades. They often do not resemble the typical Husky look. With their long sleek bodies and the influence of hound breeding becomes more obvious. The goal is to concentrate the good traits from different breeds into a fast, yet very tireless runner, with good eating and drinking habits and of course, good feet.|
|Harnessing the dogs||You will learn how to harness you team of dogs, we will not do that for you. At the beginning it might seem a bit confusing, which line goes where, but practice will cure that fast. The dogs are pulling on the TUGLINE which is fastened to the MAINLINE ( nylon coated cable ) and the NECKLINES ensure that the dogs cannot wander off to the side. The dogs are running in pairs of 2 .|
|Leaddogs||The LEAD dogs are the head of your team and run out front, followed by the TEAM dogs and just in front of your sled will run the wheel dogs. The lead dogs are your brain, wherever they go, you and the other dogs will have to follow, so you better hope they’ll listen to you.|
|Stake out||Before harnessing the dogs, we will bring them from their house to a stake out cable, which is a long cable with short neckline sections. This way the dogs are all close in one area. Here you put the harnesses on, and once that is done, the dogs become more impatient to run. The same when we return home, the dogs go on the stake out cable, here they are watered and the harness is taken off, before they return to their houses.|
It is very helpful if the dogs are listening to you. Leaddogs have to listen to their commands in all situations, good leaddogs are rare and there is a big difference in a lead dog or a trail leader. Leaddogs take the commands even if there is no trail. The dogs in you team are most likely trail leaders, which are used to follow a team in front. Still you have to reassure them in what they are doing.The command to start is: READY.. than you watch if all is ready, than a few seconds later followed by LET’S GO. To Stop you say a long “ WHOOOOHOOOOOOO e same time. To turn right, when the team in front of you turns right, it is GEE, left is HAW. Please never use own commands as our dogs are not used to them, and if you are not sure of a command, rather say nothing. Consistency is very important with saying the commands, always the Let’s go when you leave, always whoho when you stop, so the dogs learn to trust you.
|Dogbox||If we have to travel somewhere the dogs ride in a dogbox. There are two different systems, one being a large camper style box with open compartments from the inside. The other being a box, where each dog has one little compartment in which they are loaded from the outside. The box rides on the back of the pickup truck or on a separate trailer.|
|What type of sled?||We use mostly Toboggan sleds, which have 8 ft long runners. Some of them have raised beds for deeper snow conditions. The advantage of toboggan sleds is, that they take a lot of hard use and pack heavy loads and they are not as fragile as Basket Sleds. When you pack your provisions in the sled, the heavy weights go to the bottom and towards the back of the sled. Depending on weight of yourself and the load, we determine the number of dogs, usually between 4 and 6, on our long trips up to 8 or 10.|
|Training the dogs||Sleddogs are athletes and need constant training all year. While summer is generally their time off, they still need some practice and work out in training runs, several times a week, but also fun stuff, like running loose behind a bike , 4 wheeler or swimming in a lake. The real training starts in early fall an the running time gets gradually increased till winter. The distances can last to over 100 km per run for the racing team.|
|Clothing and Equipment||
The real cold weather stuff, which you most likely will not have at home, you can rent from us. We supply warm Northern Outfitter ( www.northernoutfitters.com )cloths, jackets, pants and boots. We also can supply you with sleeping bags.
|Is winter camping dangerous?||During all our tours we spend a few nights out in the bush, in preset wall tents, which are heated by a wood stove, nobody has do dig out a snow cave. Still we have to be cautious about our environment and make sure we always stay warm. It is no shame to admit you are cold. Proper clothing will cure that. We do not overnight in the walltent, if the temperature dips to minus 30 or below, in those temperatures we stay in the comfort of our cabins. All tents are located in a way, that we can reach home in a days mushing. The tent nights will be the highlight of your trip.|
|Dehydration||It is very important to stay properly hydrated, not only for the dogs, which are watered and fed several time a day, but also for yourself. You always will carry a full thermos of juice or tea with you. You should try to drink at least 2 liters per day.|
|Kennel||Our dogs are kept on long swivel chains which each dog having their own house. We do not keep dogs in large pens. All dogs are frequently turned loose and get exercise in a big free run. If a dog turns loose on you , no panic, after some peeing and sniffing it always will come back, as they are well socialized.|
|Puppies||Usually we have a litter of two in the spring as the bitches get bred around March. We try to avoid winter litters, as with tours in full swing, we could not devote the puppies the time they need. It is very important to remember, that each playing, each walk, each interaction with the puppies is very important for their further lives and all experiences should be positive.|
|My dog does not pull....||Well that is quite possible. Dogs love to run, their are born to pull, but same as us, they do not always have good days. A dog is not a machine and we cannot ask constant performance of them. For one they might take a little time to adjust to you, the Musher ,and they will start working after getting to know you. Slight injuries might also be the reason for not pulling, so it is very important for us that you let us know, if a dog is not working. NEVER discipline one of our dogs, and also please do not constantly talk to them, because they will start to ignore you. Just watch the dogs and be patient and enjoy watching them.|
All our guides are trained in first aid and CPR, not only for humans but also the dogs. It is not very likely that you will hurt yourselves on the tour, you might fall over with the sled, specially on the first day, but the snow and warm puffy cloths will protect you.
The dogs though cannot tell us, when they hurt somewhere and we have to observe them constantly. Reasons for limping dogs can be various, from stepping in a foot hole from a moose or a crack in the ice, from sore muscles ( Musher leaving too fast in the morning ), dogs dehydrated ( Musher mistake of not watering often enough or driving the dogteam too long ), or cuts and cracks in the feet ( Musher should have used booties ).Blue’s Musher guides always carry first aid kids, for dogs and humans with them.