We visit a sheepdog competition in Bath, New Hampshire and meet several ‘athletes’ and their trainers who share stories about the challenges and rewards of competitive sheepherding.
Gina learns how to handle a team of Siberian Huskies by taking the Mushing 101 class offered by Ken Haggett of Peace Pups Dog Sledding.
To train a bird dog requires a lot of basic obedience exercises. They must learn how to handle and carry game without destroying it. They must learn to work in the water. A dog must get to the point where it can use its hunting and tracking instincts to find game. The handler undergoes as much training as the dog. Developing into a finely tuned team takes practice and training. Hunting together creates a special bond between hunter and dog. We spent some time at the Diamond Brook Kennel in Brandon to get a taste of what it takes to train hunting dogs.
Skijoring is the sport of cross-country skiing while being pulled by a dog or dogs. It's an offshoot of sled dog racing and has been popular in Scandinavia and Alaska for many years. If you have a dog that's over 35 pounds and is trainable, you both may be candidates for skijoring. It's a terrific way for dogs and their owners to get out and exercise during the long winter months. Other than the cross-country skis, there is not a tremendous amount of equipment needed. Host Marianne Eaton takes a skijoring lesson at the Eden Mountain Lodge and enters a race sponsored by the New England Sled Dog Club.
Perfect shots leading to quick kills are what hunters strive for. But it doesn't always happen. Sometimes a hit a fraction of an inch off means the difference between a fast drop and a long and sometimes fruitless chase after wounded prey. Not being able to recover your animal is every hunter's worst nightmare. And there wasn't much you could do to remedy the situation until now. A small group of expert trackers are coming to the aid of Vermont hunters who have lost their quarry. They're fast. They work for free. And for them, tracking is just a big game. They're leashed tracking dogs. Tracking wounded game is a centuries-old tradition in Central Europe. Leashed dog tracking was first introduced in the U.S. in 1986 when an organization called Deer Search Inc. convinced New York lawmakers to legalize it. You must be licensed to track deer with a dog in Vermont, and it's illegal to hunt deer with a tracking dog. But a licensed tracker may recover a wounded animal. The training starts when the dogs are puppies. They're introduced to the scent of deer early in life, first by following a deer tail dragged through the woods, and then graduating to the blood scent. A wound can produce a fine mist-like trace of blood scent that humans can't smell. But for a well-trained tracking dog, it's like walking in front of him with a hot apple pie. The success rate for these dogs is high. And occasionally these same trackers are even called on to find humans that have wandered off the trail. Host Lawrence Pyne joins Tim Nichols to learn training techniques for leashed dog tracking then heads out with Todd Whitaker of Whitaker's Leashed Dog Tracking on a mission to find a wounded deer during bow season.
- Whitakers Leashed Dog Tracking
Todd & Wendy Whitaker - Handlers
- Deer Search Inc.
- Leashed Dog Tracking Service
46 Brookside Lane
Granville, NY 12832
The sport of dog sledding evolved from the common use of sled dogs in harsh polar regions as work animals. The gold rush helped add a demand for powerful dogs such as the Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies. And though airplanes began replacing sled dogs as carriers of supplies and mail in the 1920s, the allure of mushing continued, evolving into a sport. In 1925 an outbreak of diphtheria occurred in Nome, Alaska, requiring serum to be sent from Nenana, over 600 miles away. With temperatures reaching 50 degrees below zero, a relay team of sled dogs was set up to make a dramatic run, delivering the serum in just over five days. The event inspired the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, which now covers over 1,100 miles Bruce Linton of Green Mountain Dog Sled Adventures hopes to qualify for the Iditarod. His company in Morrisville, Vt., is a great place to get an introduction to dog sledding. He has about eighty spirited Alaskan Huskies that will take you on an incredible winter ride. He says people are often surprised when they first meet the dogs. "I can't tell you how many people come up here and say, 'your dogs are so friendly. I can't believe how friendly they are.' " The popular misconception is that they're big, aggressive animals. The average female Alaskan Husky weighs only about 45 pounds. And they love to run. They sense the change in the weather and begin to get excited when it gets cold. A careful training regime is followed to allow the dogs to slowly build up their stamina and not overexert themselves. Their engines run high in winter. A single dog can burn up to 10,000 calories a day pulling in the cold, requiring a special diet high in fat and protein. At Green Mountain Dog Sled Adventures, you can learn about the care and feeding of these magnificent dogs. You can learn about the sport and how to hook up a team and drive. Or you can just sit back and go for ride in the snow. Host Marianne Eaton joins Bruce Linton of Green Mountain Dog Sled Adventures for a little introduction to the sport of dog sledding.