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Meet John Schultheis
Dedicated Young Sprint Racer

Kennel Name:
Home Town:
John Schultheis
Schultheis Racing Hounds
Wasilla, Alaska
Student, 18 yrs old

ifss.jpg (35525 bytes)
John at the 2001 IFSS Junior Championship

Photo Page

All interview answers and photos copyrighted by John Schultheis


I'm 18 years old now and have been running and racing sled dogs since I was 3 years old. I have a mom, dad and a sister who used to race sled dogs. I'm the only one who still does, but my family supports me completely.

It's not just a hobby or a sport for me, it's a lifestyle. I have always loved dogs and always will. My parents have let me home school so I could spend most of my time training and racing dogs.

My goals are to be graduated from school by November of this year. Also to race in the World Championship sprint race in Anchorage, Alaska in February 2003 and then compete in as many open sprint races as I can, for as long as I can.


What is your primary sled dog activity or area of interest?
My primary interest is running and racing in open class sprint races in Alaska this year and maybe in the future also racing out in the states.

How long have you been involved with sled dogs?
I've been involved in dogs my whole life, starting to race the one dog class at age three.

What sparked your initial interest in sled dogs?
My parents sparked my interest because they were racing when I was born.

Who have been your mentors?
My mentors have been my parents and a good friend of ours by the name of George Attla and more recently, Egil Ellis.

Kennel Management

What size kennel do you operate?
My kennel is between 60 and 70 dogs. I try to raise about 30 pups every summer. I raise all my own dogs from the day they are born.

What type of tether/bowl system do you use?
My kennel is a 2-acre fenced in yard with each dog having his or her own house with an individual chain attached to a post. They are loose in the fenced area for about 6 to 8 hours a day. I have a 50' x 60' puppy pen with seven individual pens for females in heat or with pups. I attach bowls to each doghouse with a circular holder made of bent steel rods.

What are the most important considerations in housing sled dogs?
The doghouses need to be completely dry with good straw for bedding year around.

Give us an overview of your feeding program.
My feeding program differs in winter and summer. In the summer the dogs always have access to clean, fresh water. They eat salmon and dry food.

In the fall and winter I start cooking fish, rice and fat with commercial dog food for the pups and young dogs. The race team gets meat, fat and commercial dog food with a vitamin additive. Winter watering is different. All the dogs get flavored water with meat and a electrolyte additive to help with dehydration.

The Dogs

What breed(s) do you work with?
The breed of dogs I work with is the German Shorthaired pointer crosses. They are born runners and are fun to train.

What mental or emotional attributes do you require in your dogs?
I want my dogs to be willing to please and excited about running. They need to be sociable and friendly with their teammates.

Tell us about an all time favorite dog or two.

My all time favorite two dogs are King and Bugsy. They are brothers out of my first purebred German Shorthaired pointer I bought from Nebraska. These two dogs are the foundation for my entire breeding program. King and Bugsy are now four years old and they are my main leaders-very honest, willing and very fast. King


What criteria do you use for selecting breeding stock?
I try to breed dogs that have proven themselves.

Do you use any pre-training evaluation of puppies?
My training for pups consists of two-mile walks every day through the woods to a lake. I watch how they run and see how they handle jumping over obstacles like fallen trees, taking corners and how coordinated they are. I also see which ones are the fastest.

What is the most important thing you look for in a young dog?
I look for attitude in a young dog and how well they respond to my voice and how long I can keep their attention.


What is the training/racing philosophy of your kennel?
All training is done with positive reinforcement. I never ask or push a dog beyond what they are capable of.

Do you have specific training goals for your team(s)?
My goals for training are to break any bad habits. To get them running as a team, getting the speed and their muscles built up.


How do you choose which races to enter?
I never choose a race that the dogs aren't ready for.

What are your strengths as a racer?
In racing I stay very steady, very patient. I really love running dogs and I feel the dogs know this so they enjoy themselves and perform at their best.

What do you consider your weaknesses, if any?
I'm young and this is the time when I start really competing in all the adult races. I know have a lot to learn and I'm looking forward to it.

Do you having a mushing career goal?
My goal is to stay racing dogs my whole life and eventually win the Anchorage Fur Rondy Championship.

What does it take to win?
I think to win there are no shortcuts. It's just a lot of hard work and dedication.

The Future

What is your vision of the future of sled dog sports?
I'm concerned that sprint racing will lose popularity. We need to keep the interest going by keeping the sport alive and trying to come up with new and different ideas. It's a very rewarding sport, but as anyone who knows about sled dogs, it's more than a sport. You are working with live animals that need 24-hour attention and care so you have to love what you do.


Most Memorable Race
I raced in the IFSS Junior World Championship in 2001 in the 8 dog class. It was one of the biggest junior races I ran because there were teams from all over the world, so I got to compete against some of the best teams around. My dogs did great and I received a lot of attention from some very well known European mushers. After that race I knew I could be competitive against any other teams.

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