The dog yard is hustling with enthusiasm as the new puppies and yearlings scamper around exercising and investigating their territory. I try to remember back when I was that young….wow, so much to learn. Not only did I have to gain strength as a sled dog but learn manners. Young and inquisitive had to be refined to focused and working as a team. I watch the mushers and their dog handlers at the kennel learning about their new additions to the team and exhibiting so much patience, love, trust and tender care to each one.
The day eventually comes when a young team is ready to try the distance runs. Musher and dogs train together and learn the personalities of each other. Before a musher can take a team of dogs and run the Iditarod race, he/she must take us on qualifying runs. There we exhibit our skills as well as the musher demonstrates the ability to handle and take care of the dog team responsibly, displays a positive attitude toward the dogs and others, and demonstrates appropriate musher skills. During the qualifying races, mushers are assessed by the race officials. At the end of the race, the musher is given a Musher Assessment Form. A copy of this form is found on the Iditarod.com home page under Information>Mushers and then towards the bottom you will see Report Card.
The kids at the kennel came home today with their report cards from school. That is what reminded me of the Musher Assessment Form. The children were so excited to share with me the areas that they had done well in school and those they needed to improve upon. My tail wagged, I did the sled dog jump, and woof….an idea came to mind. How is the school report card like the Musher Assessment Form?
Here is a great way to have your students read and analyze the Musher Assessment Form and compare and contrast it with your school’s report card. What similarities are there? What are the differences? Are there any subjects that your students study that would help a musher do well in a dog sled race? Students could make a Venn diagram to show the comparisons. I am sure you and your class will have a great discussion with the results.
Well, it looks like a young team is harnessed up and ready to go on a training run around the kennel. Wow, those dogs are soooo excited! The musher is calm, all supplies are properly loaded, hugs and kisses are being given to the young dogs, the snow hook is lifted and they are off! My musher gets an “A+”.
Time for kibbles….see you around!
~Sled Dog Ed