The excitement of the dogs grew as each dog was hooked up to their sled and the vocalization was heard for some distance. A chill rushed through my body as the sound of the dog’s cries hit us down the track. I knew right then and there, they were close to starting the races.
Friends of ours, Dave Semerad and Julie Mooney, invited us to join them as they volunteered for the Apostle Island Sled Dog races in Bayfield, WI, and we joyfully accepted. They were volunteering their time helping groom the trails and handling the dogs for the mushers and their teams; we were photographing the event.
I was even lucky enough to ride on the back of the sled as one team finished – I am sure I had and extremely LARGE smile on my face :-)
|Date||February 7-8, 2015|
|Race||Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race|
|Location||Bayfield, Wisconsin, USA|
|Organizers||Bayfield Chamber & Visitor Bureau|
|Distance||60 mile & 80 mile; 40 mile Sportsman’s Race; and a 6-8 mile Family Rec Run|
Dave and Julie both can recall how energetic, strong, and focused these dogs were; sometimes even pulling the handlers across the parking lot to the starting shoot :-) They told stories of each team and how they work together, each one as incredible as the last. The mushers really need to understand and know each dogs personality for placement on the team for placement of the lead dogs, the point dogs, the swing dogs, and the power behind it all- the wheel dogs.
According to Wikipedia:
Dog sledding has been used for hunting and travel for over a thousand years, even as far back as the 10th century.
Assembling a dog sled team involves picking leader dogs, point dogs, swing dogs, and wheel dogs. The lead dog is crucial so mushers take particular care of these dogs. Important too is to have powerful wheel dogs to pull the sled out from the snow. Point dogs (optional) are located behind the leader dogs, swing dogs between the point and wheel dogs, and team dogs are all other dogs in between the wheel and swing dogs and are selected for their endurance, strength and speed as part of the team
Viewing the power of each team as they raced past us on the the trail was beyond words. Looking back on the images, I relived the excitement of the team and noticed how proudly the mushers gaze was as they looked upon their dogs. Sled dog racing shows great team work; I was completely impressed.
We will be making this a yearly visit and next year, I will be volunteering to help handle the dogs!