Stardancer Historical Freight Dogs

Two Rivers, Alaska

 

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The Stardancer Challenge

    My goal is to reenact eighteenth and early 19th century dog mushing methods using only historically authentic equipment and dogs while maintaining the highest standards of humane treatment and training.  Historical dogs, sleds, lines and harnesses are just as useful and practical today as they were 100 and more years ago, but the historical treatment of sled dogs was considered extremely brutal even by the lax standards of those days.  Today they are considered horrendously abusive, and they deserve to stay where they belong, documented in the time-faded pages of historical journals and memoirs of another age. 

   Meanwhile I try to take full advantage of the best available current scientific information on canine behavior, physiology, psychology and other dog-related topics.  I am proud that my Stardancer Historical Freight Dogs kennel meets or exceeds all of the  kennel management and dog care guidelines of  Mush with P.R.I.D.E. and I strive to manage and train my dogs in the most humane and scientifically sound manner possible. 

 

 

    The two goals are not mutually exclusive, but the do create some unique challenges.  The larger "village" or "trap line" types of sled dogs that allowed humans to survive and thrive in one of the most harsh climates on the planet are no longer plentiful, having been largely replaced by snow machines, light airplanes and other mechanical devices.  Most of today's sled dogs are bred for racing, and so they pull and run differently than the working dogs of history.

    Historical equipment is no longer manufactured and I have to make much of my own historically authentic gear in order to pursue my goal.  This is, and always will be, an ongoing process as natural materials such as wood for sleds or leather for harness and lines is not so durable as newer materials favored by modern mushers. 

    While the challenges are significant, as with many things in life the reward is in the journey rather than the destination.  As I research both the history of dog mushing and the current sciences associated with dog care and training I find great satisfaction in each step of the process.  It isn't always an easy journey, but is certainly an educational endeavor.