While professional sports tends to be dominated (or over-represented, depending on one’s point of view) by football, baseball, basketball and hockey, there are countless other sporting events and competitions which captivate the attention span of their respective fans. Golf, tennis, curling, lacrosse, bowling and yachting all have their fan bases. One sport that is much different, yet still fascinates many, is dog sledding. The sport is best exemplified by the well-known Iditarod race.
Every year, in early March, the Iditarod sled-dog race is run from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska. Each musher leaves the race with a pack of 16 huskies, and must finish the race with a minimum of six. The journey has to be completed within 9 to 15 days. The teams face windchill temperatures of -100 degrees (F) blowing at gail speeds, and all other horrific weather conditions expected of the harsh Alaskan climate.
Sled dogs, therefore, are selected for the physical qualities that are required to undertake such an arduous task. Veteran mushers will tell you that there are no feel-good Rudy stories in their sport. More important than their bodies, though, is attitude. Heart and desire are things that don’t show up on a tape measure, and it takes nothing less than sheer will to even attempt the Iditarod. A good group of dogs will also establish its own leadership heirarchy. The leaders will prove themselves accordingly.
It is important to understand that sled dogs are not treated as commodities by the mushers, or even just as the athletes that they are, but as beloved family members besides. The majority of husky owners have a number of other household pets, as well; it seems to be an animal-lover thing. After the grueling race is over, the sled dogs are rewarded with their favorite special foods and all the loving and hugs that they get on a daily basis anyway.