Monday, May 26, 2008
Yesterday, I witnessed this wolf relaxing in the sun. We were posting signs so that others would stay away from his den. Below is a video of some of his cousins. My dog, Tonzona, is the "wheel" dog pulling the sled.
The first position on dog sled teams are called the lead dogs. Usually we run two instead of one lead dog here at Denali. The second position is called the swing dog. They will swing wide so that the sleds turn is more gradual. The third position (not in the video) are team dogs who help pull. Last comes the wheel dog. These dogs start the sled, break out the runners if they are iced up, and pull most of the weight. Usually during the runs around the track they have two dogs in wheel and one in the swing position. In the video you might notice that there are two swing dogs and Tonzona is the wheel dog all by himself.
These are Alaskan Huskies. They are not a true breed b/c they are bred as work dogs (function) not for looks. The are larger than racing dogs that you see in the Iditarod. Most racing dogs are around 50 lbs, while Tonzona (largest in the kennel) is closer to 100 lbs. They also have long legs for breaking trail, large compact feet so they don't get iced up, two coats of fur (one small for warmth, one long to keep dry), busy tail to breathe through at night, and hair in their ears to keep out snow. Our dogs are generally most comfortable at -10 degrees F. They start pulling a sled when they are 2 and retire to loving northern climate families around age 9.