If you’ve never been to the start of a sled dog race, it’s an experience to live once in your life. Generally mushers arrive at least an hour before departure to adequately prepare their gear and dog team. You’ll notice that the dogs are becoming increasingly excited especially once their harness and booties are installed. At this point, they know they are getting ready to run. Many of them are barking, some of them may jump in the air while others may remain calm. All depends on the training they received. However, there’s always a palpable excitement in the air.
I’ve always wondered why those dogs became so excited before a departure. It seams that sled dog breed, of which the Canadian Inuit Dog (or “qimmiq”), will instinctively pull when harnessed as puppies. When teams leave the departure point, they usually sprint for a couple of kilometers following all the excitation and then find a pace. This is where the training pays off. Running must be a pleasure for them and their motivation is usually kept because they’ll expect a reward afterwards. This can be food, lots of attention, love and treats.
Picture courtesy of Pierre Dunnigan