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Iditarod Trail: Why in the World Do I Run This Race?

By: Dr. Tim Hunt
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It is all about the journey, not the destination.

Running sled dogs is a lifestyle that you don't necessarily go looking for, it seems to find the people it swoops into its grasp. A year long deal and the team involved requires care 24/7, food, attention and housing. Not a snowmobile to shut off and put into the garage till next winter. Often the dogs you have have been raised since pups in your yard and the bond is strong in each direction. Both can be taught by the other but requires an open mind.

Dogs are dogs, after all, but they want to please the human and do what they have been bred for, no matter which breed we are speaking of. A Labrador wants to retrieve that duck, the border collie wants to herd those sheep, the cattle dog wants to move the herd around. They all have been selected over many generations by we humans for a purpose.

So in working with these sled dogs we see what they are capable of and I still think there is more they can do but the hold up tends to be the human manager being the anchor. We poop out long before the dog will in most cases but still we need to be very aware of their limitations, training history, experience level and so on.

In taking a team of dogs through a long race of 1000 miles like the Iditarod there is much time to spend just one on one with the dog team. This is the journey I speak of that is so rewarding and worth all the time, money, effort and sweat. That journey one takes is eye opening, self effacing but at the same time self growth. Long, arduous and at many times thinking "I could be on a beach in Tahiti, what the heck I am doing here?" I guess we all march to our own drummers. Hopefully those drummers are OK when we confront the little guy in our head when that time comes out on the trail where all else is removed and it is just your thoughts and not much else. In this society of constant stimulation from anything electronic and the like the brain appreciates the opportunity to empty out its cluttered drawers and go through a serious rearrangement.

I suppose it is a tough way for therapy, eh? It is the journey getting there that is the pill.

As Socrates said, "Be as you do." I think...


Voted America's Favorite Veterinarian in 2014, Dr. Tim Hunt provides expert content to Voyce. His role with Voyce is one example of the many terrific expert partners that have dog-specific content featured in the Voyce member portal. To join the Voyce Experience, click here.