During the past week Dave and I have gotten to know the sled dogs a little bit more. We think they are getting used to us too. This is one aspect of working with sled dogs that we love. Each dog has a unique personality. They are just like people. Some sled dogs are shy. Some are outgoing. Some are lazy. Some are hard workers. I will share a little bit of information about each dog so that you can get to know them too. This week’s Cast YOUR Vote will determine which dog writes next week’s Notes From the Trail. There are two things in common about all three sled dogs. They love to pull and they love attention for us. They all get excited when we get their harnesses out. They also love a good pet from us.
Acorn is a very smart dog. This makes her a very good lead dog. A lead dog runs in the front of the dog team. As a lead dog, she is in charge of the direction the dog team travels in. As we have been traveling, if we tell Acorn to turn, she does it immediately, even if there is no trail to follow.
Acorn is twelve years old. This means that she is the oldest of the sled dogs on our team. She is the mother of Tina and Tank. Acorn and Tina run together in lead. Sometimes I have seen Acorn licking Tina. Even though her daughter is all grown up, it seems like she still has a motherly instinct.
Acorn has been one of Frank’s most reliable lead dogs for a long time. She has run in many dogsled races. It seems to me that she understands when it is time to run, when it is time to rest, and when it is time to eat. She is quite calm and doesn’t bark very much.
If you were a sled dog, would you like to be a lead dog?
Tina runs in lead with Acorn. Tina is Acorn’s daughter and Tank’s sister. She is younger and a bit more energetic. Tina is nine years old. One other job that is very important for lead dogs is setting the pace for the whole team. Acorn may know the turning commands a little bit better than Tina, but Tina is the one who keeps the team moving at a fast pace. I have also seen Tina lunge and jump in her harness to get the toboggan started when it is time to go. Tina has been on Frank’s race team as well.
Tina is kind of mischievous. Sometimes Dave and I have to stop the toboggans for a few minutes. I don’t think Tina likes the delay, because she sometimes turns the whole team around. The dogs end up next to the toboggans, facing backwards. It is impossible to get mad at her, because she wags her tail and looks at us like she was just coming back to visit us.
How do you suggest we teach Tina to not turn the team around?
Tank is Acorn’s son and Tina’s brother. He is nine years old, just like Tina. Tank is the wheel dog in our dog team. This means that he runs behind Acorn and Tina. He is the biggest and strongest dog. By being closest to the toboggans, he ends up pulling more of the weight than Acorn or Tina. Tank is a very strong dog and he is always excited about going for a run.
Tank has run in a few dogsled races, but not as many as Acorn. Tank spent some time at Voyager Outward Bound School. There, he would go on dogsledding trips in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. All the dogs have spent plenty of time running in the boreal forest in northern Minnesota, but Tank is the most familiar with traveling over the frozen lakes and camping at night.
If you were a sled dog, would you want to be exploring the wilderness or running in a dogsled race? Why?
All three sled dogs are a joy to work with. I’m sure that in the coming weeks we will learn even more about their personalities. We are also looking forward to letting one of the dogs write next week’s Notes from the Trail. I wonder which dog it will be. Be sure to vote to help decide!