Hi Frank and Mary,
My Poppop started the sled dog racing in the family and ever since my father and I have been keeping it in the family. We are with the dogs every single day, and I will come home from school and give them the love and attention they need and deserve.
We consider all of our dogs as professional athletes so they get the professional care as if they were any human professional athlete. We have our own veterinarian on call 24/7 if there were ever any emergency and she lives directly down the street.
In the beginning when we have puppies, we take care of them, many live in the house with us until they are too big and hyper and when they are old enough we give them a shot at the sport. We do not pressure the dogs. If within the first few feet of training we know they don't want to run we stop and allow them off the team. We will give them two or three chances to see whether they love to run or not. If they do not we will most likely keep them as house pets or we will set them up for adoption to a loving family. Surprisingly about 80-90% of the dogs love to run, and as soon as they are hooked up they have an instinct that running is what they do best. We allow the dogs to make the final decision of what they want to do. It is the only way they will be happy and there happiness is very important to us.
When we are racing or training we listen to the dogs. They truly are amazing animals, and just as they sense human feelings we can sense their feelings towards us. The love goes both ways. A great example of the amazing connection is my Poppop's favorite lead dog. Her name was Bridgett. One day when my Poppop was training the team he was out on the course and the snow that was falling really hard and some way or another he lost his balance and fell off the sled. He did not know if he would ever see his team again, he was so scared and devastated. Not giving up, he kept walking down the trail in the same direction. All of a sudden he saw his team. They were heading back straight towards him. His AMAZING Bridgett had sensed he was no longer on the sled and she turned the entire team of 14 dogs around!!! All of the dogs were unharmed and my Poppop was never so proud of that beautiful dog...for her to lead the team to turning around without them getting in a huge tangle is indescribable. The whole team obviously had a huge connection to my Poppop and just as he would have protected them from anything they in turn would have done the same.
I just love the sport so much, and I thank God everyday that my Poppop got me into this sport because I too have a connection with every single one of our dogs and I wouldn't turn that in for anything else in the world. My Poppop was taken from us this past summer, and my father and I have decided to continue his legacy through the dogs because it was the one thing he loved most in our world.