Wednesday, February 28, 2018

2nd Grade Snow Day

Today was the conclusion of Keegan's 2nd grade class lesson on Alaska. The kids were bused to Lost Trail Powder Mountain Ski hill for downhill sledding fun. His teacher asked if I'd be willing to bring the team up and give a demo. We were thrilled teach the kids about mushing, Siberian huskies and the history of the sport and breed.

Tensaw, Isis and Buck getting ready for demos

There was a nice freshly groomed loop for me to run a small team on. Five classes of about 20 kids came over for a quick lesson on mushing. Nicki from the Bitterroot Mushers introduced me to a nice way to teach kids about mushing: dress the sled, dress the dog, dress the musher.

Talking to the first class

I started by introducing the breed, its background and my dogs. Then I explain about dressing the dog (harnesses, booties, coats), dressing the sled (snow hooks, gangline, sled bag, etc) and finally I told the story of the Great Race of Mercy. I love to tell the Serum run story because it is a combo of two of my biggest interests; dog sledding and infectious diseases. After I tell the story, sans a few details, I ask a few questions. Can anyone name the lead dog who ran the most miles of the Serum run (Togo), what town needed help (Nome) and what disease were they sick with (Diphtheria). If they can't get any of those I ask a question from early on to see if anyone was listening. The child with the correct answer is selected for "dress the musher." Where I dress the kids in adult sized heavy-duty winter gear (they love this).

Dress the musher!

At the very end, they pet the dogs and then I ran a loop of the pond so they could see the dogs in action.

I choose Whip, Tensaw, Buck and Isis as the demo dogs. Whip does not like being pet by strangers but I needed a good lead dog for this demo so she was my gal. I just had to unhook her from the team when the kids came up in pairs to pet the dogs. I started with Whip and Tensaw in lead. Whip was a rockstar leading the team around the trail they'd never run before. Tensaw, well he's a goof.

I talked a lot....

The trail took us down to a loop which was below the class. On the first time on the loop, Tensaw (who LOVES attention from kids) thought he would try and pull the whole team up the steep snow bank 40 feet above us back to the kids.

First run through the loop. Tensaw thought he'd bee-line it to the kids

Otherwise, Tensaw did wonderfully. Buck got a shot in lead with Whip as well and he did well. 

When the demos and sledding was over, I signed out Keegan (instead of him riding the bus back to school just to catch the bus home) and we went over to the Gibbons pass road to let the dogs run a little more (especially those who did get the chance to run at the demo (Flier and Jig specifically are too scared to do demos in front of large crowds).

We only went 5 miles but it was hard work because there was a substantial amount of fresh snow and Whip, Buck, Isis and Tensaw were already tired from the morning of demos. It was beautiful and fun and I was glad to spend the time with the dogs and Keegan.

My running buddy for the afternoon
Whip always enjoys a good roll in snow

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