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Do the dogs like to run?
Absolutely! We breed for specific traits in our sled dogs, one of those being the desire to run and pull a sled. Sled dogs like two things; to run, and to run fast! Running is as ingrained in a sled dog's DNA as fetching is in a Labrador Retriever's, or as herding is in a Border Collie's. These are dogs born and bred to run, and they absolutely enjoy it.
What kind of dogs do you use?
The dogs we (and many other mushers) use are called Alaskan Huskies. They are a 'type' of dog bred to run and pull sleds. Unlike pure bred dogs, Alaskans do not have a breed standard, so they can look very different from one another. Typically, long distance sled dogs have a thick coat, tough feet, and weigh between 35-75 pounds.
What do the dogs eat?
A racing sled dog can consume upwards of 10,000 calories a day! So to fuel these amazing athletes, they are fed a high calorie kibble, we love NutriSource Extreme Athlete, and a variety of meat. Beef, chicken, poultry skins, and various organs such as liver and heart are staples in our kennel. Some mushers also feed beaver, venison, and fish. We mix up the kibble, whatever meat is on the menu for that meal, some bone meal for extra calcium, and occasionally some oil for extra calories into a five gallon bucket and pour warm water over it. It is fed as a warm soup to ensure our dogs are well hydrated.
How fast can they run? How strong are they?
On average, long distance sled dogs maintain a pace of 9-12 mph. In a mid distance race, such as a 100 mile race, teams are usually made up of eight dogs. The sled, mandatory gear, and food can weigh up to 150 pounds, plus whatever the musher weighs. These dogs are much stronger than they look! During your dog sled tour, a team of 8-10 dogs will pull a sled with two guests and one musher, averaging 500-700 pounds! The heavier the load, though, the slower the team can travel, so when racing, musher's only carry the necessities.
What temperatures do you run tours in?
It certainly can get cold here in Montana! We run our tours anywhere from -20F to +50F, as this is what our dogs are comfortable running in. Much colder than that and our guests start to get too cold, and any hotter and the dogs will overheat too quickly. If the high temperature for your scheduled day of mushing is outside of this temperature range (colder than -20F or hotter than +50F), we will do our best to reschedule you or refund you the full price of your trip.
What should we wear or bring?
We always recommend wearing many layers to accommodate the changing weather patterns. Start with a warm base layer, wool socks, a sweater, a heavy jacket, snow-pants, mittens or gloves, and snow boots. Chemical hand warmers are also a good idea, but please make sure to pick up any trash (we wouldn't want a dog to accidentally eat a chemical hand warmer!). We highly encourage our guests to take photos and videos while they are riding, so please bring a cell phone or other camera! Please know that accidents can happen, however, and that you are bringing your camera or phone at your own risk.
Where do your tours take place?
We operate in the Mill Creek drainage in Paradise Valley, Montana. We are about 45 minutes from Livingston, and about 10-15 minutes from Chico Lodge. Sometime the road to the Snowbank Campground (where we start our tours) can be icy and snow-covered, so you will need an AWD or 4WD vehicle to get here. Please also know that there is limited to no cell phone service once you reach the end of the pavement of Mill Creek Road.