I remember my first year of college being so excited to be living in Anchorage and able to go downtown to watch the dog races during Fur Rondy and the ceremonial start of the Iditarod. Now, thirty years later (!!) I avoid downtown altogether during the crowds of Rondy, and I listen for Iditarod updates on the radio and call it good. (I was able to go to Nome several years ago in time to see the last few teams come through the burled arch.)
I have friends who raise dogs and race them and have even been lucky enough to go for a ride in the sled on the local trails, but frankly that’s the limit of my ambition where mushing is concerned! Until I saw it up close, I had no real idea how much work and worry is involved in the sport. Animal rights activists who decry the treatment of the animals have not spent a great deal of time with real mushers. These are some of the happiest, healthiest dogs on the planet and a tremendous amount of effort and expense is involved to keep them that way. Of course there are bad apples in the sport, as there are in any activity known to man. In general however, the mushing community is a conscientious group.
However much I laud mushing as a sport, I am still happy that there are no major kennels near my Cabin! There is a noise level associated with mushing kennels that I wouldn’t relish having next door! (I should report however that my friend has a 26 dog kennel in the heart of Anchorage and has worked with them so that they are pretty quiet most of the time. It’s a charming exception when they perform their sunset/after dinner/happy dog song, all howling in unison for about two minutes before settling in for the night.)
I would love to have a dog when I live up there full time, but one is more than enough work – and noise – for me!