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Big snowfall is bad news for driveway-shovelers, but a blessing for sled dogs

Feb 26, 2016

Credit Jill Miller, Lighthouse Graphics Photography

Save for this last week, Michigan has not seen very much snow this season. And while many Michiganders have enjoyed a somewhat milder winter, it's been bad news for people who race sled dogs.

Chris Mahar serves as the director of publicity for Mid-Union Sled Haulers and has been racing dogs for about 16 years. He says MUSH has had to cancel some races this year due to temperature and snowfall complications.

“The weather’s become more unpredictable. We try to adapt with that on where our race sites are, but it’s really all a gamble that you take on what Mother Nature’s going to do,” he says.

According to Mahar, the sweet spot for race conditions lies between 10 and 20 degrees with low humidity. And, of course, snow on the ground.

He says when he started sled racing it was pretty rare to cancel a race, but cancelations due to weather are becoming much more common in recent years.

Chris Mahar

“I don’t think there’s anybody who would tell you that weather has not been a bit more unpredictable the last four, five, six years,” he says. “The last two years were very good race seasons. The two years before that we basically didn’t have a single race.”

Mahar tells us cancelling a race is disappointing to humans a dogs alike.

“These dogs love to run,” he says. “Pretty much the worst thing you could do to them is not let them run.… I mean, my dogs, if I get into the enclosed trailer that we’ve built, the boxes we transport them into, if I just open that door you can hear the kennel going nuts because they think they’re going to get to go run.”

MUSH will be holding a race this weekend in Baldwin, Michigan.