Sled Rides

Paws Along the Trail with Sled Rides

A question I have often been asked by students is what happens to dogs in between checkpoints if they don’t want to run anymore or just need a break?  The musher puts the dog in the sled for a ride!  

Katherine Keith’s dog keeping watch atop her sled

Katherine Keith and Anna Berington each brought a dog in the sled into Unalakleet.  Katherine’s dog was relaxing on top of the sled.  Anna’s dog peeked out of the sled bag. I overheard the vet asking Anna if there was any problem with her dog.  Anna explained that the dog is a good leader, and she just likes to give her a break once in awhile.  Not only is there room for the dog’s body, but the dog can snuggle inside, head and all!  

Sled bags are pretty roomy, but how much room is there, especially for extra items like a resting dog?


Matthew Failor’s sled

Sleds for mushers are all different sizes.  Sometimes they use larger sleds for the start of the race and then switch to smaller sleds.  We have a line-up of sleds here in Unalakleet that mushers have shipped ahead to switch out for the end of the race.  The size depends upon the musher’s preference.  

For a good problem solving activity, create the perimeter of the base of the sled on graph paper.  My arm is about 18 inches from fingertips to elbow.  The width of the sled I measured was one arm.  The length was three arms.  Compute the area of the bottom of the sled bag.  Create the sides of the sled out of graph paper as well as the back and then put together a 3D sled.  Inside, use centimeter cubes to fill up the sled to determine the volume it could carry.  If you use inch cubes with two representing one dog curled up resting, how many dogs could you fit into your sled?  

Can you fill the entire sled with dogs? 

What would prevent a musher from doing that?  What would be a reasonable amount of dogs that could be carried?  

Rule 46:  A musher can only carry dogs in front of his/her racing sled’s handlebars.  The  musher may not allow any of their dogs to be hauled by another team. Dogs must be hauled in a humane fashion and must be covered if conditions require, at the Race Judges/Race Marshal’s discretion.

One last photo for a smile.  It’s not just sled dogs that rest on the sled.

Jeff King lounges coming into Unalakleet.