I actually got to do this twice. The first time was with my step mom’s husky, Piper. It’s a bit of a bitter sweet memory for me, because Piper is no longer with us and thinking about it makes me miss that little fluff ball but I wouldn’t trade the time with her for anything.
In any case, my first winter up in Alaska, we got a good hard pack going on the road and my step mom brought out the harnesses. Piper went crazy. She barely held still long enough for us to get the harness on and her hooked up to the sled. She was chomping at the bit.
My step mom gave me a quick run down of how to control the sled. It was similar to cross country skiing, which I have done before. Angle the front tips towards each other to slow down, angle the back tips towards each other to speed up. Easy enough. I got on the sled and she let go of Piper.
I did not have a chance to try any of the stuff. Piper was off like a shot, running me up and down the little road three times. I ended up just holding on and laughing. I don’t know which of us had a better time, me or Piper.
The second time I went was down at the Seevey’s dog training camp down in Homer, Alaska. If you’re familiar with the Iditarod, then you’ve probably heard about the Seeveys. They’re a family of dog sled racers and they usually do really well in the race.
At the camp we got a tour of the kennels.
I was with the two boys my sister nannies for and they were very surprised that most of the dogs were medium size and not the big Huskies you see in films. As the guide explained to us, the medium sized dogs usually have a lot more endurance while the big ones have the strength but only for short bursts.
We got on a sled on wheels and the dogs were hooked up. They took us on a ride around the training track and the guide talked more about the Iditarod but it was a little hard to pay attention because they dogs were just hilarious to watch. One of the ones in the middle kept ending up on the wrong side of the guide rope and you could see who was in charge by how they responded to each other.
After we were done, we went over to another kennel where we got to meet one of the dogs who had just had puppies. This was the greatest and best moment of all.
Pictures by Carrie Hunt and Dawn Vogt