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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Iditarod

Matt and I couldn't pass up a once in a lifetime adventure of experiencing sledding with an Iditarod trained team of dogs.  Seriously, where else can you do this but Alaska?  It was beyond what I expected - well worth every minute.

Groupon was offering a BOGO free - so I jumped on it. We had our own private tour (the 2 other people didn't show) with Dario, a man from Italy who moved to Alaska on a tour around the world - and of all places, he chose Alaska!  He fell into training and preparing dogs for the Iditarod race - a legendary race 1,150 miles across Alaska with just you, your dogs and your sled.  (learn more here)  There is not a lot of funding for this tradition, so he's started his own business to earn money and keep his dogs in shape.  What an unique way of life!

We rode around on the sled, stopping every once in awhile to learn about the dogs, the intense training process to get these dogs ready, how the race works, and all that is involved in running the race.  We even visited the kennel where at any time he has 35-50 dogs who love to run (and got to play with the puppies, added bonus!). 

Watch and it'll feel like you were there...:)
video
To be honest at first it made me sad to see these dogs having to pull us around.  But after hearing Dario talk about how much these dogs are naturally born to run, like a lab who naturally plays fetch, and watching them get so excited to start going again, I realized there is nothing inhumane about it.  These trainers love their dogs, like they would love their children.  He knows every dogs name - all 50+ of them.  Even during the race, they keep a schedule of 6 hours on, 6 hours off.  During the 6 hours of rest, the trainer is preparing the dogs' food, massaging each dog, checking on their feet...getting about about 45 min of rest himself.  Amazing dedication.

These dogs are very intellegent.  Dario makes one noise, such as "hah" or "ge", and the dogs know whether to turn right or left. One faint command of "ready" and the dogs jump up from cooling off in the snow and prepare to take off.  Very impressive. 

...I'm still working on Mocha to drop the ball after she brings it back from playing fetch....I have a long ways to go.
Enjoying the ride in a beautiful meadow surrounded by mountains.

Trying not to fall off for the photo op...it was kinda bumpy.

I love puppies!


The kennel that houses all his dogs.

Amazing.

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