“Puppies!” Mushers Inspire Travel with Dogs

Now that the 2024 Iditarod is in the books, mushers everywhere are enjoying the summer with their dogs.  Mamas are giving birth to adorable sled dog puppies. Mushers are traveling with their dogs to provide glacier adventures to tourists or getting additional training in the far north of Alaska.  If you visit the Iditarod Headquarters in Wasilla, AK, you can see sled dogs in action and even take a cart ride. 

Family gets a ride on wheeled cart pulled by sled dogs and Iditarod musher Raymie Redington through a forest trail at the Iditarod Headquarters in the summer. Photo: Iditarod Media

This month’s lesson plan will get students—with the help of their families—creating travel plans with budgets and activities for their dogs.  I’m excited to share this lesson plan with you because going places with a dog is one of my favorite things to do.

Unfortunately, my beloved dog Gus passed away shortly after I left for Alaska to fulfil my role as Teacher on the Trail.  He taught me patience and perseverance.  Gus learned to love going places in the car with us. His favorite thing to do was walk any trail, anywhere, with his family and friends. 

My dog Gus at Pine Gully Park in Seabrook, TX. Photo: K. Newmyer

Losing Gussie during my time on the trail helped me appreciate the bond that mushers have with their dogs.  I observed this bond time and time again, and I got to experience it by interacting with sled dogs myself. Watching how mushers live their lives surrounded by dogs working with them, and for them, helps us better understand how incredible dogs really are. We are lucky to be able to have this special relationship with dogs. What better way to honor this relationship than to have adventures with your dog? When we create memories with our dogs, we immortalize them, and we celebrate the timeless human-canine bond.

Mille Porsild takes a moment with her dogs before Iditarod 2023. Photo: K Newmyer

 Even if your dog is a couch potato, or only 12” tall, you can still have wonderful times together.  And if you don’t have a dog or can’t have one, many of the activities in this lesson plan are still appropriate, such as conducting online research, creating a budget, and logistical planning.  Or, visit a musher web site and plan an adventure for one of their dogs, or your child or students can create a trip for a plush dog.

The lesson will suggest ways that you can preserve and share these memories with others.  Many mushers agree, we always wish dogs were on this earth longer than they are, but it shouldn’t stop us from opening our hearts to as many dogs as we can—as companions, as foster homes, or by pet-sitting your friends’ dog.  This lesson plan will give you lots of ways to enjoy dog time.

Sebastian Schnuelle gives kisses, pets and hugs to his dogs *Gas* and *Diesel* at Takotna during Iditarod 2009. Photo by Jeff Schultz/ SchultzPhoto.com (C) 2018 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Email me with your stories of dog adventures at emailtheteacher@iditarod.com.  In loving memory of Gus.