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01.04.2021

Sled dog sport

Formative experiences

My wife and I had always thought about buying a dog. It happened after attending a sled dog race in our area. After the breeder of our first bitch had given us some information, we decided to buy a husky. At this point in time, we didn’t waste any time thinking about sport. During a visit to a race in which the said breeder also took part, I had to find out on Saturday morning that I should change my clothes now, as my first start was around 10 a.m. After about ten minutes, the color of my face returned to normal. I was kindly registered, without my knowledge, for the race with two dogs, which I was given on site, as well as the car that went with it.

The red lantern at the first race

In retrospect, I was able to explain to myself why I should take my running shoes with me. After a successful last place (20 minutes behind) it happened. The next dog was commissioned. Well … and five months later came the second … then the third … the fourth … the first and second own litter and of course the sport, although I have to say that I always saw the whole thing with my seven women very relaxed. Being there is everything. Although I would also like to say that I can’t imagine anything better than enjoying the pure nature at minus ten degrees and with seven dogs in front of the sledge. In the meantime, my retirement home (aged 8 to 16) has taken over the apartment, and I’m happy when I can get a place on the sofa every now and then. Sled dogs have to run a lot As you can see, one sled dog is enough to completely change the life of a family. Sled dogs are enthusiastic family dogs, but the pack of conspecifics can only replace a family for them if they are fully committed. If you do not do justice to the dogs’ extreme urge to move, problems can quickly arise in which the animals are unfortunately always the losers! To prevent this from happening, the following should be considered: Sled dogs don’t like to live alone! They are enthusiastic family dogs, passionate hunters, even more passionate runners and want to be moved in a species-appropriate manner. Anyone who wants to offer their sled dog or sled dogs a species-appropriate occupation cannot avoid sport with them. Depending on the number and breed of the harnessed dogs, there are different classes that are not so easy to understand for the spectator or a newcomer to the sled dog sport. In order to shed some light on the racing process for outsiders, the AGSD (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Schlittenhundesport Deutschland eV) has briefly described and explained the racing classes as follows. The AGSD is the umbrella organization of the purebred German sled dog sports clubs. The task of the AGSD is to support and promote the sled dog sport with the four pure-bred sled dog breeds recognized by the FCI (Federation Cynologique International). Scandinavians, Skijöring and S-Velo The single dog owner is addressed here. Not everyone who is enthusiastic about sled dogs can and wants to keep a whole pack. But the individual dog also needs movement and work. After all, he lacks the “comrade” he can romp around with. To get straight to the point: Scandinavian sport is extremely demanding, both for the sled dog handler and for the animal. The dog pulls a so-called pulka, a flat glass fiber tub that is loaded with weights. He runs between two tie rods. The musher is connected to his dog by a leash attached to the pulka and runs after the dog on cross-country skis. If there is still no snow, they go for a jog and the pulka has small wheels. A good physical condition and very good cross-country skiing technique (skating) are the best prerequisites for successfully practicing this category. If two or three dogs are harnessed in front of the pulka, a braking device is required on the pulka. In the skijoring category, the musher is directly connected to the dog by a leash without a pulka. At the chariot races in autumn, the S-Velo class is also ridden with one or two dogs in front of the mountain bike. In addition to very good training, a single Scandinavian dog also needs appropriate motivation to run. Two or more dogs animate each other with their enthusiasm for running. The lone dog must therefore get the fun of the thing from its musher.

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C1 and C2

This is where the first guesswork starts: What does the letter mean and what does the number mean? First about the letter: C means two to four dogs in front of the training cart or sled. A C-team demands great athletic commitment from its musher. The more he supports his small team, the faster it is. The strength of a C-Team can be slowed down well in a critical situation, but should not be underestimated. The number “1” means that only or predominantly Siberian Huskies run in this team. Due to their agility and speed, they are superior to the other sled dog breeds, which have to get their higher weight going, and are rated separately. The number “2” means that Malamutes, Greenlanders or Samoyed are harnessed to such a team. These can also run mixed; about two Malamutes and a Greenlander or three Samoyed and a Malamute. If only two dogs are harnessed, the musher has to help push the cart or sled and thus support his dogs. He replaces the missing third or fourth dog. In terms of strength, three or four dogs can easily pull their musher. A sled dog is able to pull up to ten times its own weight.

B1 and B2

The letter B means: There are four to six dogs harnessed. The numbers have the same meaning as in the C-Class; 1 for Siberian Huskies, 2 for Malamute, Greenland Dog or Samoyed. Discipline must prevail in a B-team. Six strong Greenlanders or Alaskan Malamutes, for example, can no longer be brought to a stop with pure muscle power and the brakes on. This requires additional safety devices on the vehicles. If a musher is unlucky that a dog is injured on the first run and therefore has to be removed from the team, he can still start with four to five dogs on the second run. A and O In the A class, the mushers harnessed six to eight dogs – a considerable length. The same applies even more to the open = O class. At least nine dogs have to be harnessed here, there are no upper limits. Mostly one meets teams with ten to 14 dogs, less often 16 or more dogs. Mostly Siberian Huskies are represented here.

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Author: MATHIAS NAGENGAST

Photo: © Christian Vajk / www.pixelio.de