Two young 50-something females. One big adventure exploring the Americas. Have liquidated everything they own and packed a Saturn Vue with bare necessities to set out on this journey. Planting seeds at each juncture symbolizing their new growth. With an open mind and heart, ready to get a true view of this world.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Denali Going to the Dogs

McKinley Chalet Resort will be our home for the next couple of days, and our best accommodations have come here in this beautiful wilderness. Our bags are already waiting as we settle in and appreciate the comfort that we will be afforded while visiting here. Yea!!!

We explore our area briefly before boarding a shuttle to the park. On board the shuttle, we meet a darling couple who are headed for a true Alaskan adventure. They plan to backpack through the true wilderness of Denali - no forged trails - for eight days! We enjoy our encounter as we question the logistics of such an endeavor. They will survive on very little out there all alone for more than a week. While we're intrigued, living vicariously is all we can really imagine.

A very helpful guide suggests a visit to the kennels of the sled dogs. Denali's history with these beautiful animals is rich and we not only enjoy thoroughly meeting the beauties one on one but are lucky enough to time an actual sled demonstration.

Honestly, we were a bit doubtful of this, but are ecstatic that we have been guided in this direction. This is a wonderful start to our exploration.


  1. If you visit an Iditarod dog kennel, you should know that for the dogs, the Iditarod is a bottomless pit of suffering. 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 Iditarod, including two dogs on Dr. Lou Packer's team who froze to death in the brutally cold winds.

    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,


    Not sure if you guys got to see my 3 pups at New Life - but while they might be jealous that these guys get to run in the snow - my spoiled ones are happy to live in the lap of luxury!

  3. Interesting comment from the Sled Dog Coalition. I wondered if you knew about this......