Outdoor Journal
Episode #: 
Dog Sledding

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.


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