Sled Dogs

I didn’t write this but it’s a great article.

Jake Hway

MuarchStSg uhe6Srpo, n2sorsomgecof0d19  · Dogs are descendants of wolves…Sled dogs are more closely related to their original ancestor than your average house pet. It would be unfair to sled dogs to compare them to an average house pet, sled dogs are so much more than that. Many sled dogs prefer living outside, some even prefer sleeping in the snow than in their doghouse with fresh straw bedding when it’s -40 or more. And in the morning, they are like… Oh hey, Good morning! Oh, it’s -40… whatever.

People might think it’s because they have been conditioned to living in these colder temps, so their bodies must have adapted to it… but that’s not true. They haven’t been conditioned not to live in their natural environment. They have always lived in their natural environment, so there is no reason to be conditioned back to it. Sled dogs live the same way as literally any animal that lives in their natural environment… which is most animals. There are some animals that don’t live in their natural environment but we will talk about them in a minute. Sled dogs have been living naturally for many, many generations, and before that, they were pure wolves.

They haven’t been forced into living in people’s ideal living conditions in a temperature-controlled environment where it is heated in the winter and cooled in the summer. We are a bald/tropical species and we think that descendants of wolves need to live in the same conditions as us. Homeostasis is the body’s natural ability to maintain a constant core temperature in the changing conditions around it. Sled dog’s homeostasis is in good working order. Their bodies adjust naturally to the ever-fluctuating conditions and changes of seasons, just like a wolf… or any animal living naturally It’s only been 60 or 70 years that Air Conditioning has been popular and now for some reason, all dogs need air conditioning. But hey, dogs were around before that… and they were healthier back then. Go figure.

All dogs are descendants of wolves and wolves used to live as far south as Mexico until people messed with them. When a dog’s body is changed over several generations to only ever be in a maybe 10-degree temperature swing… then they suffer when they are in temps higher or lower than that and they are missing out on life. But a sled dog might live in an area where it can commonly change 150*F between summer and winter. And they live and thrive right along with their wolf ancestors that also live in that climate.

A sled dog might be sprawled out and soaking up the sun and really enjoying it on a hot day, and a house pet that has been conditioned to air conditioning is stuck inside cuz he can’t handle it out in the environment that was once natural to him. Living in their natural environment is just one of many reasons that sled dogs live healthier, longer, fuller, and more fulfilled lives.

That doesn’t mean you should throw your Chihuahua out in the snow and tell them to deal with it, you are a wolf… that would be very cruel. They have been bred for warmer climates and different lifestyles just like many other breeds. It’s not their fault they were bred that way…Whatever kind of dog you have… as long as you do right by that dog, and you have allowed the dog to do breed-specific activities that fulfill their soul, and by the time they get toward the end of their life and they have no regrets, then you know you did the right thing.

They tell you with their body language and their eyes. You can’t miss it if know how to listen. This post was not meant to deter someone from getting a dog, dogs are fantastic, dogs fill our lives with joy. And as long as that feeling is mutual, and it’s a give-and-take relationship… dogs give 100% though so we need to give that back. The bond you create with a dog can be amazing.

Happy Friday

Not much to say except I had my first COVID vaccine and the 2nd one is March 18th. Hope you have a great weekend, and this is a photo of two idiots trying to take a selfie. Me and Ivan, what a pair of clowns!

Husky stuff

Lot’s of people get a Siberian and suddenly complain about having holes dug in the yard. That is what you get when you buy on looks and don’t do your research of the proposed breed you want. Huskies dig, they dig a lot. If you think you are suddenly going to stop this tendancy that was introduced thousands of years ago you would be mistaken.

As in all dog behavior a lot of answers come from studying the breed…historically. Many answers I found came from learning everything I could about these dogs. Do I know it all? I laugh upon you if you think that! I know enough to tell you what I have learned, but it’s far from everything Siberian.

The need to dig and the high prey drive came from one simple fact. The Chukchi of Siberia had a partnership with these sled dogs. In winter they pulled sleds, and were fed and cared for in return payment. During the short summers these same dogs were turned loose to fend for themselves until winter returned. You might imagine being laid off from work and you need to eat.

Not a problem for the Husky. They hunted anything smaller than them, and they dug for grubs and whatever morsels of food that would sustain them. Hence the trait to hunt and dig. It’s ingrained in their DNA whether they are fed or not. They can’t help it anymore than you can stop trying to itch that spot in the middle of your back. It is encoded into their DNA over thousands of years.

If you want a perfect yard, you don’t want these furry excavators. They can dig holes that would make a badger jealous. As in all of us, each dog is an individual and the amount of these traits varies. Mine do well with our cats in the house but they grew up with them. Outside is another story I’m not willing to test. Based on the many incursions by raccoons and squirrels that barely escaped, I would not trust them to leave my cats alone outside.

If it’s smaller, and moving it becomes prey. If they have a yard with dirt they will dig. Knowing why, makes me accept that. A small price to pay for them accepting my own faults they don’t understand. I’ve always said the relationship is a partnership. Both sides have to give and take. Sort of like being married isn’t it?

The bottom line is “Synergy.” The sum of the parts is greater than any individual part. That’s a team!

Run #27

It seems like this team is becoming creatures of the night. Running at night, although nerve-wracking, for those who have never done it before. Running at night does have benefits. The benefits in the urban environment are the lack of “People.”

I don’t mind people walking, but I do mind when they think “Fluffy” should come with them unleashed. This truly is a recipe for disaster. This comes from believing that your dog is a human child. “They deserve to be free!” is the call to arms. Really? It’s actually the call to having your free-running dog killed by being run-over, attacking a greater force of dog breed, or just plain running off into the great unknown.

Okay so you think it’s okay for that. You might want to consider your own hide in this endeavor. Causing a car accident, biting a child or anyone will take you straight to court. You are liable for what your dog does. Just the same as you are liable for your own children’s actions. Dogs are not people, they are dogs and will always be dogs no matter what you think or hope.

You will always be the leader, and with leadership comes responsibility for not only your actions but those under you. Meaning your dog(s.) So, the bottom line is don’t be a dumb ass. If you can’t handle the responsibility of leadership and dog ownership, then you should probably switch to something more sublime like a “Fish Tank.”

Harsh words you say! Absolutely they are and it’s for a reason. I don’t pay vet bills for people’s stupid “Ideals.” My dogs are my life and if you threaten that then you are threatening me. You want “Fluffy” to run free then don’t cry when she attacks a pack of working dogs and gets a permanent lesson in how the “Dog Kingdom” works. Use a leash, it’s the law in most places and it’s done for a reason. To protect both dogs and people. Why? Because dogs will be dogs. That’s what they do! Be a good leader for your dog. They depend on you to keep them safe. Letting them run free is not doing that.

I’m out there with my dogs running at night or any other time. I share the risk with them, I don’t turn them lose to do whatever.

Run #25

1.94 Miles. Music by CCR “Born on the Bayou.”

Route and Speed

Ivan Update

7 months old. 57.5 lbs. and 24″ at the shoulder. To date, Ivan has 24 runs in harness. Only one run longer than 1.5 miles. The point is to get him trained without overtaxing his growing body. He also gets a 1.5-mile walk on foot every day at sunrise.

NOTE: For those of you who leave comments they go into a que for me to approve. Sorry if it takes me a while to get to them. I do appreciate your comments, but I am sort of dog-busy most of the time. Thanks for reading!

seppala book

It’s been a while since I plugged the book I co-wrote with Dr. Doug Willet. It covers more of the history of these dogs post Poland Spring and the original dogs that started the line. The E Version is cheaper but you’ll miss the true beauty of the photographs. It may be a bit much for the average dog lover but it’s gold for us die hard sled dog folks. Thanks!

Why do my Huskies Bake in the Sun?


For a couple of years, I wondered why my Siberians chose to lay out in the sun and bake. I’m talking summer in Virginia! Dogs that laugh and play at -30F laying out in the sun baking themselves. I had to drag them in panting and their fur was hot to the touch.

I went researching this weird habit and it turns out all furry mammals do this. This is how they get vitamin D3. If you want to read the mechanics of how this works the link is last. The bottom line is skin oil is converted into vitamin D3 by the sun. For humans, it is absorbed into the skin. If you have fur like Uncle Bill then it is absorbed by the fur. The dogs lick their fur and get the vitamin D3 orally. Fortunately, we’ve never seen Uncle Bill do this!

Dog Trike

Here is what the modified recumbent bike looks like. Big Cooper and Little Nikki provide the power. This design was made for the urban environment. The tow-bar does a couple of things as opposed to using ropes or lines. One is I have more control of them in case they decide to dart in front of a car for whatever reason (like a squirrel running out across in front.) The second is it keeps them from drifting back into the wheels or chain and sprockets. Mushing commands are the same and it’s no problem to switch to a sled.

dusk to dark run

Just another training run for Cooper and Ivan. Music by: Hall & Oats.

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