- Originally published December 19, 2015 for KPAX
- Written by Ryan Greene
West Yellowstone — The annual West Yellowstone rodeo run sled dog races began this week. Sleds have somewhere between four to 12 dogs each. So really, it’s basically a team sport, and in more than just one way.
The annual West Yellowstone rodeo run sled dog races began this week. Sleds have somewhere between four to 12 dogs each. So really, it’s basically a team sport, and in more than just one way.
“It’s massively a team sport.” explained Brian Ferrante, a sled dog team member from Deer Park, Washington, “Not even just from the dog sense, but from the musher sense. It’s a huge community, we all have to work together and help each other out because it takes more than one person to get this going and it obviously takes more than one dog to pull the sled down the trails.”
But before they start the racing, the teams have to first get to West Yellowstone. The mushers most likely could use the dogs and sled to get there, but instead they prefer to use horsepower.
Most teams use attachments that fit into the the beds of pickup trucks, while some use custom made trailers.
You may think these attachments would be too small to comfortably fit a 12-dog team. But actually, each compact cubby (not much bigger than dogs themselves) were designed to be small.
Traveling to cold destinations, being in metal crates on the back of a moving vehicle can get, well, cold. But each keeps natural heat from the dog easier since the size is so small.
Also, less room in each cubby means the dogs can’t be thrown around in such instances as an abrupt stop.
“They love being in the boxes especially like today when it’s snowy it’s windy.” Ferrante continued, “We can have them out here on a leash or drop chains right off the truck where they can lay down, they can move around. As soon as it’s time to get in the box, most of them are trying to jump up into the box, most of them are perfectly happy. I have one who would rather be in the box than out here usually.”
So while they may not be the buses other sports teams are used to taking, they still serve the same purpose…