Fast Moving Sprint Racer from Sweden
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Maryse and I have been together since '97. We have a son almost 3
years old named "Sean" and we were recently married in our home country of
We were both born in Belgium. We moved to Sweden in December of '97 to a place called
Gafsele on 63' Latitude. Our club is the FBMC Belgium (ESDRA), and also we are members of
the Swedish "Gafsele sleddog-club." I will be racing for Sweden in the
What is your primary sled dog activity or area of interest?
To run a good team.
How long have you been involved with sled dogs?
Almost 16 years.
What sparked your initial interest in sled dogs?
The ultimate kick off running fast.
If you remember your very first time behind a team of dogs, tell us about it.
Oh yes, I remember well. It is a while ago but the feeling from that time for the first
time behind a dog team was to me the most spectacular I have ever felt and until today it
is always an adrenaline kick to drive a sled.
Who have been your mentors?
One day that I walked in the woods there was this guy that hooked up his dog team and
after he came back we had some conversation and asked me if I was interested to follow him
with his next team, Of course I accepted. His name I do not remember but he helped me with
the first steps in driving sleddogs. Some weeks later I had my own 4 Sibs. Over the years
I have learned the most by looking at videos, books, visiting kennels, going to
What size kennel do you operate?
The size off our kennel is between 15/20 dogs.
What type of tether/bowl system do you use?
The pens we have are 25m 2 each and there are two dogs together and having insulated
What are the most important considerations in housing sled dogs?
Because we have "shorthaired crossbreeds" it is very important to have insulated
dog houses other wise they have to take all their energy for warming up their body.
We provide fresh straw for the dogs year around.
Give us an overview of your feeding program.
My feeding program is in the summer time - normal dry food 27% protein ,20% fat. In winter
time it is a little more mixed with fish and sometimes meat. Maybe around 65% fish, 35%
dry food, sunflower oil and the most important - water.
Summarize your basic kennel management style.
No stress. You have to know all the time how your dogs are feeling, and that they
What breed(s) do you work with?
The first 10 years I have worked with Sibs. of very good offspring. The last 6 years I
started with Hounds (pointer/vorsteher)crosses.
What mental or emotional attributes do you require in your dogs?
Oh this is a good question. I think that contact between the driver and his dogs has to be
optimal. They have to be on the same wave all the time, then it will work. My dogs are of
a very high discipline. They must have the right attitude (a love to work), be good
eaters, drinkers, must have good feet, endurance and speed. They should not be dominate
but also certainly not shy. This is a problem with the pointer crosses, not especially to
the owner but to other people. So please to all that breed with pointer crosses try to
select on this.
Tell us about an all time favorite dog or two.
You know I have still one favorite dog at home. His name is Bear, 9 years old,
gee/haw leader and was in the team till last season's training.
He is a pure Alaskan (Leonard/Drake lines). This athlete is one of the toughest dogs
I've ever known. He could take the speed off of the hounds with no problem. He is, for me,
the most perfect sleddog. He will still train the pups as long he wants to. Another
favorite dog to me was "Kattis" from Ellis. The first year just before he would
fly to Alaska, I had Kattis in my team (was handler for Ellis 97/98). One day when I came
back from training I told Egil to take Kattis with him to Alaska and she would burn up the
trails. At the same time Helen came out of the house and told Egil that she has sold her.
After a discussion ,he decided to take her to Alaska and the rest you probably know (look
ONAC pedigree Jeff Conn). I wish I had bought her.
What criteria do you use for selecting breeding stock?
Good head, not too big. They must run in 8 Dog and Open. They must have speed and
endurance. Half crosses are the key to a breeding success.
Do you use any pre-training evaluation of puppies?
Not harness breaking, but as a pup I teach them to run loose, all of them together and
they have to come if I call them and to stay with me if I want them to, even though the
other ones are still running loose (training for later if there is a problem on the
What method do you use for starting pups?
Small teams of 8/10 dogs depending on the number of pups. Normally two command leaders,
two experienced swing dogs and there we go (and hope for the best).
What is the most important thing you look for in a young dog?
How he is built but the most important is how he runs.
At what point do you decide a youngster is likely to make it in your team?
If he or she can take the speed and is going in harmony with the rest, then they are in
Out on 16 mile training run.
|What is the training/racing philosophy of your kennel?
I build up nice and easy (no stress). Still the training heats have a average speed of
27km/h no matter how far. Because we are living in the North we can go pretty fast at
Do you have specific training goals for your team(s)?
Before they go to the first race they must have around 1000km training miles behind them.
What do you consider most important to accomplish in training?
That all are happy after training and looking forwards to the next training day.
How do you choose which races to enter?
I pick out the most important and those races I know that the best of the best are there.
What are your strengths as a racer?
My good breeding program the last years, and have had luck with the selection. Made it
last year to run in 8 dog-class faster than the 5 best of Scandinavia, Have track record
in "Gafsele" with average speed of 32.4kmh.
Coming in after 16 miles, Leaders are "Lobo-Aura"
What do you consider your weaknesses, if any?
Do you have a mushing career goal?
To beat the best in 8 dog class and if I have the chance to run against the best in Open.
What does it take to win?
That we made everything right. Without sponsorships it's not easy to run at top level.
What is your vision of the future of sled dog sports?
To the Olympics?
What can individual mushers do to support and promote the sport?
Be fair to each other.
What part do clubs and organizations play in sport development?
There are too many organizations to let it work perfect.
What advice would you give a beginning musher?
Visit kennels, ask as much you can, try to decide what kind of breeding you are interested
in before you by some dogs. Do not take each dog that they offer you.
Tell us about one or two of your most memorable sled dog
Once while training with Egil Ellis, he went out with 18 dogs on the open trail. Some time
later I went out with a 16 dog team. About half way Egil was coming from the opposite
direction. Just before we would have a "head on pass" the leaders I drove took a
small skido trail on the right side of the track. I put down the brake and stopped. Egil
did the same but he was standing 1.5m higher up on the track and tried to call my leaders
to go through the deep snow back on the right track. They did that but of course I had a
tangle. Egil had put in his giant snow anchors so that he could help and jumped on my
sled. At that moment his team was getting crazy..one of the anchors was not sure
anymore, so he stands on my sled. I was running to his sled. We jumped on, looked to each
other, smiled and there we go! I drove his team and he drove my team. Now the best part
was that in lead was his famous "MIKE!" I can tell you this was hell of a
ride...18 dogs in the team and you just felt this guy's power on the sled. I will never
It has become an expensive sport. If it wasn't a "Lifestyle"
for most of us, there wouldn't be so many left in this sport.
Out on 16 mile training run.
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