Many of you have had different school experiences in 2020. You may be learning with your teacher through a computer, or you may be at school, socially distanced from other classmates and wearing a mask all day.
Did you know that we sled dogs socially distance part of the day in our dog kennels? Mushers frequently have 20+ dogs in their dog yards. That’s a lot of dogs to annoy each other! Most sled dog kennels have little houses for each dog. We each have our own bowls for food and water. When we aren’t out running in the snow, pulling sleds, or playing in the play area, we stay by our little houses, close enough to our neighbors to sniff and play; however, we are also able to get away and have time by ourselves.
Musher Aliy Zirkle was recently asked if she and her husband, musher Allen Moore, are doing anything different with socially distancing their dogs. She responded that no people come to their kennel right now. The dogs only see other dog teams when they pass each other on trails, a few feet apart. She usually travels to Anchorage, a 7-8 hour trip from their home, a couple times a month to speak or help with a community project. She isn’t doing that now. The last time she was in Anchorage was when she flew into the airport from Nome after the 2020 Iditarod.
Will sled dogs socially distance when pulling a sled? They are hooked by harnesses to tug lines, which are then hooked to the approximately 45 feet long gangline. Each sled dog usually runs with a dog partner, running two by two. If the tug lines are taut, the dogs are distanced about 2 feet apart. While running with a partner dog, some dogs stay on their own side of the gang line, looking straight ahead, staying socially distanced. But, there are always those sled dogs that like to duck under the line and run right next to their buddy! That’s not social distancing. Hope those dogs never have to wear a mask!
Until next time, this was your canine reporter,