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Little Su 4-H Club
Home of the Alaska 4-H Dog Mushing Program

Alaska 4-H Dog Mushing Program

www.alaska4hdogmushingprogram.com

The Little Su 4-H club was started in Wasilla and in Talkeetna, Alaska in October 2002.

We have nine 4-H members:

  • Jonathan Biggerstaff/Myers (age 10, running dogs for 6 years)
  • Yuta Takagi (age 13, running dogs for 2 years)
  • Seiji Takagi (age 10, running dogs for 2 years)
  • Annelissa Eckmann (age 14, running dog for 7 months)
  • Karl Eckmann (age 10, running dogs for 9 months)
  • Miranda Stitt (age 13, running dogs for 3 years)
  • Skeeter Stitt (age 10, running dogs for 3 years)
  • Skipper Stitt (age 12, running dogs for 3 years)
  • Ruthann Stitt (age 8, running dog for 3 years)

We all have been training and sprint racing this last winter season. All the teams have done a very good job this year. We had one team that won the Jr. Eagle River Classic in Chugiak, Jr. World Championship in Anchorage and came in second in the Jr. North American in Fairbanks.

The 4-H program is a practical, learn- by-doing educational program for youth 8 to 19. It is run through the University of Fairbanks and the Mat-Su Copper River District Cooperative Extension Service in Palmer, Alaska.

We have three levels of curriculum: Beginners, Intermediate, and Advanced

Beginners
Some of the curriculum topics are:

  • SAFETY
  • Basic mushing skills (how to harness, the positions on the team, how to hook up a dog, name of lines)
  • All the equipment
  • Start learning about different dog foods (high-octane dry foods and non competitive dry foods), from dry food to meats; learn to bait water and why
  • Very basic animal care (administering food and medications, foot care, skin care, dental care, basic exam) including knowledge of some parasites
  • Dog breeds
  • Basic winter camping
  • Very basic record keeping
  • The history of mushing

Members are required to be handlers and kennel help for the Intermediate, Advanced and the adult teams for the summer, fall, winter training, and race season.

The members are advanced enough to use the skills they have learned to train and race their teams. Everyone learns the Golden Rule: Always take care of your dogs before you take care of yourself.

Intermediate

  • More in-depth nutrition, including the kind of fats, meats, different supplements (like Psyllium, Vitamin E, Astaxanthin, Zinc, Grape Seed Extract and Probiotics are just a few)
  • Learning to read commercial dog food labels
  • Study different feeding ideas (for all racing and working dog teams)
  • Making lines
  • Fixing broken sleds and making new sleds
  • Making dog boxes

Members also train for different conditions (sprint, mid-distance, long distance racing); learn how to work a real work team (haul water, logs and supplies). We have to be certified in human CPR and First Aid, and we have classes in canine CPR and First Aid, cold weather and health care, intermediate record keeping, canine anatomy, diseases, beginners medical terminology.

Advanced

  • Advanced record keeping (computer record keeping)
  • Teaching other students
  • Laboratory Procedures (fecals, CBC’s, chemistry panels, urinalysis)
  • Canine diseases
  • How to talk to your veterinarian
  • Advanced medical terminology
  • Very basic anesthesia (so the student understands what their canine is going through under anesthesia, different kinds of anesthesia, local, injectable and inhalation anesthetics)
  • Basic understanding of X-Rays and Ultrasounds
  • Basic surgery (Ovariohysterectomy, Neutering, Emergence surgery, and Cesarean section)
  • How to care for post-surgery canine patient
  • Preventative health care
  • Canine Disorders (bone, muscle, joint, skin, nervous and circulatory systems), and different treatment that can be used (acupressure, massage, acupuncture, food, drugs, herbs, and surgery treatments) are just a few things the students learn.

In all the levels we also learn about and practice leadership, responsibility, speaking in public, writing, and money management. Everything we learn is all hands on. We put on demonstrations at schools and the State Fair. We also do presentations on subjects like roundworms (we use real worms for the presentations). We have field trips. We have an upcoming field trip scheduled for visiting CAC Plastics to see how sled runners are made, what kind of plastics are used, what is the best and why.

This year we have patches that we earn showing what we have completed. They are like the ones used in equine programs in 4-H.

The club members also do other projects like scuba diving; swine, rabbit, and poultry care; sewing (lots of booties, make and repair harnesses), cooking, gardening and much more.

Our future goals: we are working on having a Jr. Sled Dog Symposium for beginners to advanced classes, Jr. Sled Dog Camp (beginners and advance); and a scholarship to any educational credited institute

Thank you for your wonderful support and donations to the Little Su 4-H Club:

  • Cruz Construction
  • Alaska Sausage and Seafood
  • Play ‘N’ Saw
  • Nordic Constructors
  • CAC Plastics.

Thank you Martin Buser and Jeff King for the wonderful educational field trip and Rex Jones for your equipment and dogs.

Follow our progress at

www.alaska4hdogmushingprogram.com


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