Sprint Musher Nicole Whitlock
Name: Nicole Whitlock
Kennel Name: WinterStar Racing Huskies
Birthplace: Westminster, CO
Home Town: Bailey, CO
Occupation: Freshman in High School
Hi, Im Nicole Whitlock, a 14 year old freshman at Platte Canyon High School.
I live in the Rocky Mountains with 25 sled dogs, 2 horses, my Mom, my Stepdad, and my
little sister. I run in the four dog class for now, but hope to someday work my way up to
mid-distance. I love all sports. I belong to the Rocky Mountain Sled Dog Club, The
Colorado Mountain Mushers, and ISDRA.
What is your primary sled dog
activity or area of interest? How long have you been involved with sled dogs?
I have been racing sled dogs competitively for four years, but ever since I was
little I can remember riding in a wagon to school with three Mals hooked up in front.
What sparked your initial
interest in sled dogs?
I really got into the sport when, my Mom and Stepdad met (that is when my Mom
started racing). I got bored freezing my butt off in the car so I decided to freeze my
butt off while going 20 miles an hour behind a maniac team of Alaskan Huskies.
If you remember your very first
time behind a team of dogs, tell us about it.
I remember my first time behind a team, it was at a race in Frisco, Colorado. It
has to have been the worst racing experience of my life (so far). I think I spent at least
half of the race on my stomach, dangling off the tipped over sled behind a team of slow
Sibes, wondering how anyone could go out on the trail and come back alive.
What size kennel do you operate?
I manage a 25 dog kennel alone 60% of the time, though only five of these dogs
Give us an overview of your
My feeding routine is to let approximately five dogs out at a time to run around
for exercise while I pick up their kennels, give them fresh water, do any other kennel
maintenance (filling in holes, etc.), then give them all pets and kisses on the nose. Then
I let the next five dogs out and so on. After every dog has run, I feed them. We have a
table in the middle of our exercise yard, so we dish their food out of large buckets into
bowls for each of the dogs.
What advice would you give a
I have a lot of feeding advice that I would give to a beginning musher regarding
feeding and stomach torsion. First always let the dogs run before you feed them, or once
you've fed them wait for at least a couple hours to let them run. If you dont, your
dogs will be at risk to get stomach torsion, and only 10% or fewer of all dogs that get
stomach torsion survive.
Other ways to avoid stomach torsion are
to soak, your dogs food in water for half an hour before feeding it to them, so the
food doesn't expand in their stomachs. Also add more water to the pre-soaked food
when you give the food to them (not only will this keep the dogs from eating too fast, but
it will help the dogs avoid getting dehydrated). The reason I know about torsion is
because I almost lost one of my wheel dogs to it last year. Luckily, we were loading the
dogs in the truck and noticed the odd way he was acting and got him to the vet right away.
Summarize your basic kennel
Even though kennel chores are kind of a drag, never go out there with a bad
attitude. The dogs can feel your emotions, and if you mistreat them, I feel that they
don't perform as well in the kennels or on the race course. They also dont give you
the respect and affection a dog that is treated well will. I feel that there is nothing
more rewarding then to have 25 dogs totally adore and cherish you.
What breed(s) do you work with?
I work with the Alaskan Husky breed (although my Mom and Stepdad race Siberians).
What physical characteristics do
you look for in your dogs?
The physical characteristics I look for in this breed are deep chest cavities,
long legs, and a narrow, aerodynamic body structure. I prefer not to get de-barked dogs
simply because if the de-bark is not completely successful it could cause breathing
problems and if your dog can't breathe, it can't run!!
What mental or emotional
attributes do you require in your dogs?
Mental and emotional characteristics I look for in Alaskan Huskies is that they
not be too smart so they don't sit on the trail trying to figure out how to ditch you or
to get in trouble--they will completely focus on running. Never get a dog that's vicious,
even if you think its the fastest dog in the world. When you're behind a dog team
you want to be able to depend on and trust every dog on that team. If a dog is vicious,
that means it trusts no one and if it doesn't trust you, then you can't trust the dog.
Tell us about an all time
favorite dog or two:
My all time favorite dog has to be my leader, Sequoia. When she first came to my
house from her original owner, Terri Newberg, she didn't know me. She was so frightened, I
was convinced if I got close to her she was gonna nab one of my fingers off, but I decided
to give her a try. I spent endless hours in the kennels trying to get her to warm up to
me. Now we have a bond of trust. She is definitely my dog (as my parents put it) and I'm
not the person who needs to worry about her taking my finger off anymore--if anyone ever
tried to hurt me, she would put an end to that.
What is the future of sled dog
I believe the future of the sled dog racing sport is to become a competitive
Olympic sport. This year my goal is to go for an ISDRA medal.
What can individual mushers do to
support and promote the sport?
People should promote this sport. They should let people know that this sport is
not in any way harmful or cruel to dogs. In fact, I believe it is a lot more decent
and beneficial to a dog than letting a dog bred for working, lay on the back porch and do
nothing, get no exercise and get fat.
Tell us about one or two of your
most memorable sled dog experiences.
My most memorable race was my first time going out behind my team of Alaskans. I
was thinking, oh my gosh, I'm gonna die! Then on the trail every thing went excitingly
fast, but smooth. When I came in I thought I did it, I really did it!!!
Any final comments about sled dog
Sled dog racing might not be for everyone, but if it's for you, if it hasn't
already, it will soon turn into the light of your life!!!!
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