Word to the wise--don't make your own snow hook unless
you KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING! I found this out when I had to stop and fix a tangle and
"POOF", my team started to go. I dragged for a while and got my bearings back
and went on cursing myself.
Geoff Vukelich, Duluth, Minnesota [8/12/99]
I learned a few valuable lessons this year... always have
extra leaders on the team and always, I mean always, use a screw or bolt to secure
QCR on the sled. I used tape in one race figuring that it would hold. ( I normally
use screws--not this time!) Needless to say, my plastic stared to come off one runner in
the first couple of miles of the race so I had to keep on stopping to push it back on! Oh
s--t, I thought, I'm gonna lose this this if I don't do something about it! Thankfully I
had a pocket knife that I used to wedge between the rail and plastic ...it made it the
rest of the race approximately 45 miles! Canadian Championship Dog Derby 150 miles, three
musher, Nunavut, Canada
- My dogs have better temperaments than I do.
- Mega brakes are meant for stopping, not slowing down - get a drag track!
- Just two dogs can pull me VERY fast when there's elk on the trail.
When on a lake race (such as Detroit Lakes), rather than
analyzing the team ahead of you, (who happened to be Merv Hilpipre) gauging distances,
etc., etc., it is a pretty good idea to keep an eye on your own team, so that when one of
your leaders stops to take a dump, all the dogs behind him don't run right over the top of
him, creating a colossal tangle.
Kelley Franck, Trailbound Kennels, Minnesota
This year I have learned that beyond any doubts, small dogs
always run better on long distances.
Remi Feougier, Quebec, Canada
What I learned this winter is that it is never a good idea
to run dogs without a snow hook, no matter how small your team seems to be. I learned this
after the snow melted, and I had put all my stuff away for the winter. A snow storm hit,
and I took advantage of the new snow. I thought I would not need my snow hook, and quickly
lost my team while untangling them. They disappeared down the road, and I had to flag down
a car in the middle of a snow storm before I was able to catch the runaways.
Melanie Desotelle, Minnesota
It would have been a lot cheaper and less addictive to try
heroin than dogsled racing.
Scotty Cassens, South Dakota
It's EXTREMELY important to know how to fully read your dogs. Nothing
makes you feel worse about yourself then watching your best leader drop like a rock on the
starting line of a race because she was scared. I learned that sitting for a few minutes
with each dog before a race or heavy training run can pay off in ways beyond first place.
Adjust your training around what works for you. Don't forget about
family. Take a friend out on a training run with you, or a cousin or sister. Let them know
what the dogs do, and why. It helps them understand that these dogs aren't forced to pull,
they do it because they love it.
Jessica Tackett, Golden Trails Racing Kennel, Alaska
Don't ever use sharp pocket tools to cut the zip ties off of rolled up
QCR plastic, late at night after a big dinner, and being on the road for two weeks with
dogs. I almost sliced off the ends of two fingers, requiring 18 stitches the night before
my biggest race of the year, because I was tired and careless.
Traveling with dogs, and going to races can be very physically
demanding, and sometimes does not mix well with some of the potentially dangerous things
we do connected with this sport. Be careful!
Greg Sellentin, New Jersey
"Never, ever take your dogs out when you are deathly
ill. They seem to sense that you may not be capable of correcting them and take advantage
of it. One day, we went for a much longer sled ride than intended, and we know all the
dogs were in on it!"
Nicole, Ontario, Canada
"There's a really good Chinese restaurant in Bemidji,
MN, but I can't remember the name of it!"
Steve Bergemann, Wisconsin