Why is the Yukon Quest so Tough?

A great little article about the conditions these dogs and musher’s endured. This is what these dogs were bred for. This is what they accel at like no other beast that is a friend of man. Dogs are life to a musher, and vice versa. To think that you will mistreat the animals that can save your life is insane.

The animal rights activist say this is cruel to make these dogs do this. The funny thing is you can’t make a dog do this. You can’t push a rope up a mountain. If a dog doesn’t want to do this he won’t, plain and simple. They will lay down and refuse to move. The lack of understanding of these dogs will be the end of them. So my feeble attempts to educate will go on in hope that some come to their senses.

By: Rob Cooke February 15 at 12:33 AM

Ever since I took this video I have ‘debated’ about whether to post it or not – largely because of optics and people not understanding and thinking that the dogs were suffering which they absolutely were not. I have already read a lot about what happened on Eagle Summit and parts have already been exaggerated by people who were clearly not there so I understand how easy it is to misinterpret something. However, others have suggested that I should show the video just to demonstrate how well the dogs cope and are designed to cope.

As soon as I got into Mile 101 I asked for a full vet check on the entire team and they all passed with flying colors (the vets and volunteers in 101 were amazing); the team all also had good body condition scores throughout the race just so they can deal with situations such as this. I shot this as we were making the final climb over the steepest part of Eagle Summit. It was slow going because visibility was so poor and we weren’t prepared to move up until we could see the next trail marker.

This would involve climbing up the slope until you could just see your leaders, planting a ski pole at that point and then keep climbing until the ski pole was just going out of view (between 10 and 15 feet away). Then wait with your back to the wind until you could feel the gusts drop and would then face uphill and scan for the marker. Once the marker, align the ski pole to the marker and go back to the team and move them up to the new marker.

This would all take a while and the dogs would revert to their basic instincts and ball up against the wind. The moment we asked the teams to move they would jump up, shake themselves off and literally scream to get going (in fact Deke located us by following the noise of the dogs barking), always hauling to the next marker and then immediately curl up and wait. I was amazed by how the dogs coped and how they knew exactly what to do.

All the time Andy, Jason and then Deke were constantly monitoring the state of all four teams. We really struggled to locate the final marker, it turned out it was on the edge of the summit and so constantly in a whiteout from snow being blown over the edge by 40 mph winds. We had decided that if we didn’t find that marker in the next five minutes we were not exposing the teams any longer and we would make our way back into the tree line and scratch, fortunately the marker was located and we were able to get the teams up on top where we waited until all four teams were in a close line and then we began our very grateful descent.

This was a huge team effort, no individual heroics, we all worked closely together to get our teams off safely and the dogs were the biggest part of that team; I am so pleased that everyone reacted so strongly and so calmly but I truly am amazed at how fantastic all four teams of dogs were and are. I am now making this public but will remove the post if it is used inappropriately.

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