Sled dogs have been bred and born to run

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

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Julie Ducrocq

Veterinarian at Ivakkak 2015
Julie has been a veterinarian for the last 15 years. She has also been coming up north for the last ten years on different assignments ranging from rabies vaccination in dogs to sampling caribou for disease. Besides working on the Ivakkak race for the last five years, she experienced working as a trail veterinarian on the Yukon Quest and races in Labrador as well.
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Sled dogs have been bred and born to run

By Julie Ducrocq

Julie has been a veterinarian for the last 15 years. She has also been coming up north for the last ten years on different assignments ranging from rabies vaccination in dogs to sampling caribou for disease. Besides working on the Ivakkak race for the last five years, she experienced working as a trail veterinarian on the Yukon Quest and races in Labrador as well.

Comments (1)

  1. I see the excitement in the photo to be at the start of each leg of the race. The huskie dog is also very loyal and protector of the camp. The sounds of howls-singing and talking between the canines is like in a children’s story book of Inuit Huskie Dogs telling the story of pulling a qamutiik on the land. Good fun for you Julie.

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