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Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Dogs who work Denali

The dogsled animals at Denali are well cared for and so happy to have visitors.     The area is only open three times a day for a short visit and demonstration.      Some dogs are out in the open and are very eager to be petted and loved.      A second group is also very friendly and you are free to pet them over the short fence.      The third group either falls into the category of preferring to be seen but left alone, or they have a desire to eat gravel.    (why I don't know, but obviously it wouldn't be good for their teeth or digestive system)

Lucor was not impressed by his visitors and took a short nap.

These pups are very young.      Their mother is one of the sled dogs.     When an animal is ready to be bred the park brings in an appropriate outside dog to be bred with the female.  

As the pups grow, they are watched and analyzed to determine if they have the physical and mental traits necessary to do this work.      If they don't, they are given up for adoption.     The park has a system for accepting applications for placement.     Dogs who are "retired" are also put up for adoption.

These dogs do not run races, but are used by the Rangers all winter to access various parts of the park.      Motorized vehicles are not allowed in many parts of the wilderness areas, so this is a way of patrolling these areas.      The rangers will also take lumber and other repair supplies into remote areas so that the supplies are ready in the spring when repairs need to be made on trails, bridges, etc.

This is the sled used in the demonstration.    I'm definitely not ready to handle these very strong dogs!

There are three demonstrations each day.     The dogs are chosen on a random basis.     They use only five dogs for these demonstrations, but at least double that number are used in the winter on their work runs.

The dogs really get excited when it's time to get hooked up, as you can see by the dog in the middle of the picture.     That jump he is doing was off the ground.     Good height!    They all want to be chosen and will bark and jump showing their enthusiasm.

Here they come around the gravel track.

Believe me, they were traveling fast......

At the end of the track, the dogs immediately lay down.  

This hold on the dogs looks unfriendly, but the dogs know they get to run free back to their homes and the handlers need to get them away from the audience first.     If all four legs are on the ground with no leash, the handler wouldn't be able to hold them back.

Lucky is awaiting his turn to run home.


  1. I remember the frenzied barking and jumping when they are being chosen for the sleds. It's such hard work I'm amazed how badly they all want to be part of it. I'd be the dog pretending to sleep to avoid it altogether.

  2. I have more understanding of the idiom It's a dog's world.