Friday, February 19, 2010

Mush mush mush....(okay truly most mushers say "hike hike hike")

For some fun schoolwork, we've decided to follow the Iditarod Sled Dog race.  Other teachers you can go HERE to find out more about following along with students (homeschool and nonhomeschoolers) from all over the world!!

(THANKS Laura  for telling us about this fun idea!!)

We're still working on getting our wallsize map of the race done (yes we're a little bit behind) but should have it done in the next few days so we can follow along as our racers check in at each checkpoint.  We have now officially selected our racers.  The kids went through all the mushers at the official Iditarod website and read the bios of racers.  Both kids wanted to pick a rookie. 

So let me introduce you to
He's the racer MaryKyle chose.  he's the first racer ever from Jamaica.
   hmm.....did you just get the little diddy from the movie Cool Runnings going through your head too??
"'nuff people say, you know they can't believe.  Jamaica we have DOG sled team...."    OH YEAH!!


 John Mark's choice:
She's been a wrangler in Nevada, a musher tour guide, and a member of the
Army National Guard.
And she happens to be rather attractive.....hmmm???

We'll be cheering them on from the sunny south when they begin their race on March 6th for their 1150 mile journey!!
Seriously...that's a LONG trip on a dog sled in the cold...
if you didn't know mushers are required to have one 24 hour down day and two 8 hour rest stops.
It's a facinating event to read and learn about I must admit!!


Grateful for Grace said...

I never, ever remember this in time! I'm still late, but thanks to you, I think we'll hop on this! Thanks!

I have a feeling my son will pick the same racer.

mellison290 said...

What a cool idea! You're such a fun teacher!! :) And I totally love that MK and JM picked Rookies!


Laura at By the Bushel said...

:) so glad you did this, and we'll be doing some catching up real soon! We are sooo behind. I think my yahoo acct has been sending stuff to another address! :0( ha-
'Hike! Hike! Hike!'

Laura at By the Bushel said...

Margery said...

It's shameful that Newton Marshall put dogs at terrible risk by racing them in the Iditarod. He finished the race with 11 dogs. The five dogs other dogs he started with were left at checkpoints because they were injured, too exhausted or too sick to run. Marshall forced the dog Larry to race when he was limping and put extra stress on two dogs by forcing them to run when they were in heat. The Times reported that Marshall fell asleep on his sled while the dogs ran mile after grueling mile.

For the dogs, the Iditarod is a bottomless pit of suffering. Six dogs died in the 2009 Iditarod, including two dogs on Dr. Lou Packer's team who froze to death in the brutally cold winds. What happens to the dogs during the race includes death, paralysis, frostbite (where it hurts the most!), bleeding ulcers, bloody diarrhea, lung damage, pneumonia, ruptured discs, viral diseases, broken bones, torn muscles and tendons and sprains. At least 142 dogs have died in the race.

During training runs, Iditarod dogs have been killed by moose, snowmachines, and various motor vehicles, including a semi tractor and an ATV. They have died from drowning, heart attacks and being strangled in harnesses. Dogs have also been injured while training. They have been gashed, quilled by porcupines, bitten in dog fights, and had broken bones, and torn muscles and tendons. Most dog deaths and injuries during training aren't even reported.

Iditarod dog kennels are puppy mills. Mushers breed large numbers of dogs and routinely kill unwanted ones, including puppies. Many dogs who are permanently disabled in the Iditarod, or who are unwanted for any reason, including those who have outlived their usefulness, are killed with a shot to the head, dragged, drowned or clubbed to death. "Dogs are clubbed with baseball bats and if they don't pull are dragged to death in harnesses......" wrote former Iditarod dog handler Mike Cranford in an article for Alaska's Bush Blade Newspaper.

Dog beatings and whippings are common. During the 2007 Iditarod, eyewitnesses reported that musher Ramy Brooks kicked, punched and beat his dogs with a ski pole and a chain. Jim Welch says in his book Speed Mushing Manual, "Nagging a dog team is cruel and ineffective...A training device such as a whip is not cruel at all but is effective." "It is a common training device in use among dog mushers..."

Jon Saraceno wrote in his March 3, 2000 column in USA Today, "He [Colonel Tom Classen] confirmed dog beatings and far worse. Like starving dogs to maintain their most advantageous racing weight. Skinning them to make mittens.. Or dragging them to their death."

During the race, veterinarians do not give the dogs physical exams at every checkpoint. Mushers speed through many checkpoints, so the dogs get the briefest visual checks, if that. Instead of pulling sick dogs from the race, veterinarians frequently give them massive doses of antibiotics to keep them running. The Iditarod's chief veterinarian, Stu Nelson, is an employee of the Iditarod Trail Committee. They are the ones who sign his paycheck. So, do you expect that he's going to say anything negative about the Iditarod?

The Iditarod, with all the evils associated with it, has become a synonym for exploitation. The race imposes torture no dog should be forced to endure.

Margery Glickman
Sled Dog Action Coalition, website: