We headed straight outside to meet the dogs. I could tell she was excited to share with me. In fact, later she told me all sled dog owners love talking about their dogs. We came up to a small paddock of good-sized fenced-in runs each with one or two dogs in it. The dogs were, of course, very excited to see us and leaped and yelped for attention. They weren't quite what I was expecting. Of course, they were very dog-like, but I was expecting the typical Siberians or malamutes. It turns out that most of Sue's dogs were ones that were retired and that she had rescued or adopted. And they were all Alaskan huskies. This was a new breed to me, but they were still so beautiful!
The first dog we met was all white and a sweetheart. We went into a few of the pens to scratch ears and rub down backs. Sue introduced me to them all, and made special note of the dogs that took her through the Iditarod. I had no idea that she had completed that race! (Which is something like 1100 miles long. Wow. Now that is a fun time.)
We then headed to a much larger fenced in run that had a pack of at least 6 dogs altogether. Some of these had also run the Iditarod with her. It was wonderful to hear each dog's story and amazing that she could tell them all apart! One dog was absolutely huge and looked like he had a little greyhound in him. (not all were pure breed)
Last she took me into the shop building where she housed her 3 sleds, harnesses and food for the dogs along with everything else sled dog related. She even had a special truck that was made for transporting the dogs in their own separate compartments. I could tell she'd been doing this for quite a few years and she just loved it. In fact, she'll be moving back to Alaska at the end of the year and her face lit up at the thought of being able to train her dogs, taking off from her yard as opposed to here in Utah where she has to transport the dogs just to get to a good running trail.
Aaah, it was a good time and I learned a lot. I don't think I'll ever do races. Well, maybe short ones. But the thought of having working animals that will pack and pull for you and to help you enjoy the outdoors and their company... that's what gets me excited. We're moving to Maryland soon, and I even found a website for someone out there that races their dogs. So, you can be sure I'll be paying them a visit! It'll be something really fun to look forward to in a new and different place.
Sue pointed me to this great website to learn more about sledding, races, and even finding dogs for sale or free! Sled Dog Central