Animal Answers: Mushing with Endurance Kennels
Endurance Kennels Specialize in Sprint Sled Dog Racing; Teaches Community Members about the Sport of Mushing
DULUTH, Minn. – The 34th running of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon will kick off this weekend, after months of hard work and preparation from mushers and their dogs.
But what is it like for sled dogs that prefer to mush a shorter distance?
In this week’s Animal Answers, we’re mushing with Endurance Kennels.
“I usually start my morning by scooping poop. There are 38 dogs so there’s quite a bit of poop to scoop,” said Rachel Hobbs, Head Handler with Endurance Kennels.
Next time you’re traveling along the Pequaywan Lake Road near Duluth, take a deep breath, look around, and listen.
“Last night I had to chop meat because they are eating 56 pounds of meat per day right now,” said Hobbs.
Plenty of protein powers these pups to do their daily workout at the sprint racing kennel.
Endurance Kennels is home to 35 energetic furry friends.
“Almost everybody here is related. They practice for shorter, faster races, not the multi–day races,” said Tone Coughlin, Owner and Head Coach at Endurance Kennels.
The breeds are a cross between German Shorthair, English Pointer, Greyhound, and Husky.
“The dogs get to rest, very short, anywhere from four to thirty miles,” said Coughlin.
With shorter distances and faster speeds, sprint sled dog racing differs from the traditional thought of sled dog racing.
“It’s popular all over the U.S., Canada, Alaska; the big races are up in Canada and Alaska,” said Coughlin.
He used to volunteer and act as Interim President for the Beargrease; Coughlin loves using his talent to teach others about the sport of mushing.
“I like to do the ten dog race and the open class because I’m a bigger musher,” said Coughlin.
“My first couple of months it was all volunteer. I helped with running the dogs, helping keep the kennels clean,” said Hobbs.
Teamwork taking to trails, months before mushing begins.
“I’m usually the one organizing the dog trailer, and getting the lines ready. I went through all the dog booties the other day, which was a task!”
“This is probably the most challenging sport anyone could really do because you’re dealing with so many different personalities and there are so many different facets of this sport,” said Coughlin.
Various puppy and people personalities, all vying for the same goal; to have fun, while exploring the great outdoors.
“I guess you just have to follow your dream sometimes, take that chance, and again, make the opportunity for yourself,” said Hobbs.
Coughlin says his team of dogs’ does best on the trails when temperatures range from five to twenty below zero. In the off season, the dogs run to stay fit and conditioned.
For more information about Endurance Kennels, or to schedule a time to go mushing, click here.