snow ledge

Spring with the Sled Dogs

Vela resting up for next years dogsledding trips

Spring has finally arrived, though this morning looking out the window could have fooled anyone, as our world is once again covered in fresh snow; however the lakes are thawing and the snow is slowly melting, a sure sign that mud season is beginning, and here as at any dog sled kennel, we have plenty of mud. Not just any mud though, a special concoction only found in dog yards, one part gravel, one part straw, one part newly shed dog hair, a little rainwater and melted snow, plus a dose of “reprocessed” dog food to really bind it all together. There is a constant battle in the dog yard now with the weather, we move dogs and trench the yard, to make sure the melting snow and rain drains well, to ensure dry living conditions for the dogs. Now after a day spent working in the kennel everyone goes home with muddy paw prints covering their coats and pants.
Another change a dog sled kennel undergoes in the spring, is a gradual reduction in the amount of food dished out every day. In the peak of the winter we are feeding six or seven five gallon buckets twice a day, which translated into over three hundred pounds of food a day, plus water. When spring comes and the dogs have been laid off for the season we begin reducing that amount, so that right now we are feeding four buckets twice a day, the evening feeding being more of a watery soup than a hearty meal like their breakfast. By the time summer arrives three buckets will feed the entire yard once a day.
The arrival of the mud also means it is time to tear the sleds apart, repair them, and put them away. Which in turn means it is time to drag the four wheelers back out to start running the new recruits for next year. There are 11 yearlings this spring that are excited to see what being a sled dog is all about. We ran them a few times on sleds before the snow left, and now that we can get back on four wheelers, their training will continue until the heat of summer shuts it down.
Soon the mud will dry up and the bugs will be out, but that too will be short lived, then the mud will return to usher in winter, just as it chased it out, and when winter returns all will be right again, to quote polar explorer Knud Rasmussen, “give me winter, give me dogs, and you can have the rest.”

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