The Topic:
Sled Dog Racing

Easier - People from the polar regions have used dogs and sleds for a long time. Working dogs were used in everyday life to protect and in hunting. But most of all, dogs and sleds were used to carry food, products, and other things. The first sled dog races may have been among native people as they dashed their dog teams across the frozen ice fields. Sled dog racing was continued by immigrant trappers, miners, freight haulers, and settlers.
Harder - Indigenous people of the far North regions were dependent on sled dogs for protection, companionship, hunting, trapping, and transportation for thousands of years. In the more recent European immigrations to North America, newcomers quickly saw the value of working sled dogs. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police started running dog-team patrols in the northern frontiers as early as 1873. Mail teams later delivered the news to outlying communities. Inland settlements were dependent on sled dog freight haulers. Explorers such as Byrd, Peary, and Amundsen relied on sled dogs in their exploration of frozen wastelands.
The first record of a formal sled dog race dates back to 1908. The running of the All Alaska Sweepstakes began with established rules and a racecourse of 408 miles from Nome to Candle and back. The winning driver made the trip in 119 hours, 15 minutes, and 12 seconds. Enthusiasm for sled dog racing was promoted by exhibition teams performing in the northeast as early as 1909. In just a few years, the number of musher entries to the All Alaska race increased considerably as well as the speed of the teams. The winner of the 1910 race completed the course in 74 hours, 14 minutes, and 37 seconds, a record that still remains unbroken. In 1917, the first race in the "Lower 48" was held in Ashton, Idaho. A diversion from often difficult living and working conditions, sled dog racing spread rapidly throughout Canada and the United States. However by the 1920's, sled dog team use for daily transportation, freight hauling, and mail delivery needs in the northern regions began to be replaced by airplanes.
Sled dog history was made in 1925. In January of that year, an outbreak of diphtheria occurred in the small icebound village of Nome, Alaska. The native population there had little or no immunity and the city's supply of antitoxin was inadequate to stave off a near-certain fatal epidemic. Serum was available from the Alaska Railroad Hospital in Anchorage; however, it needed to be moved over 670 miles across the rough ice and water of the Iditarod trail. The two airplanes in Fairbanks were both open cockpit aircraft and had already been dismantled and stored for the winter. Even if they had been available, the risk of a plane crash and the loss of the only available serum seemed probable. A twenty-pound pack of diphtheria serum wrapped in quilting, canvas, and then fur first traveled by railroad from Anchorage to Nenana. From there, a relay of 22 natives and mail carriers and their sled dog teams was quickly recruited and organized. The drive was a success, the serum was delivered in less than five and a half days.
Today, few of the inhabitants of the Far North are dependent on dogs for basic survival. However, sled dog racing continues in the United States, Canada, Northern Europe, the United Kingdom, Japan, and other locations around the world.
Cabela's Iditarod Race Coverage
The site has includes race history, rules, photos, and more.
Related Website:
2) Dog Days in Alaska from Discovery Online
3) Iditarod (Links-site) from Working Dog Web
4) Iditarod from Anchorage Daily News
5) Ititarod: Race Across America from Scholastic
6) Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race from Alaska Public Radio Network
7) Your Guide to the Alaskan Iditarod from Pet Place
International Sled Dog Racing Association (ISDRA)
ISDRA’s historical objectives have been to promote public interest in the sport, encourage cooperation between race organizations, create and maintain standardized race management procedures, promote the highest standards of animal welfare for canine athletes and aid in sponsor relations for ISDRA members and ISDRA sanctioned events.
Related Websites:
2) About Sled Dogs and Sled Dog Racing by S.R. Lee
3) Dogsledding by P. Ernerk
4) From Trap Line to Finish Line
5) Getting Started in Sled Dog Racing with Samoyeds
6) Go, Dog, Go! by E. Dempsey from The Columbus Dispatch
7) Introduction to Sled Dog Racing
8) Physics of Mushing by H. Kwon
9) Sled Dog Racing from Kids' Turn Central
10) Sled Dogs Then and Now from American Humane Association
Ititarod Trail Sled Dog Race
This comprehensive site provides a wide array of information and resources on the world's most famous sled dog race.
Not-To-Be-Missed Section:
2) Jr. Iditarod
Related Website:
3) Ultimate Iditarod
Tilford on the Iditarod Trail by J. Mitschelen
This classroom theme page for the Iditarod contains links for information about the dogs, the mushers, the trail, the race and lots, lots more.
Related Websites:
2) Iditarod 411 by J. Wong
3) Iditarod Adventure by T.Opsteen-Van Dyke
4) Mrs. Morgan's Iditarod Adventure
After visiting several of the websites, complete one or more of the following projects.
Write A Dog Sled Racing Poem. You can find a few examples at Limericks, and Musher Bio Poem. And if you would like to learn more about poetry, visit another eduScapes 42eXplore project, Poetry for Kids. Then write your own poem; communicate what can feel and imagine. You can narrow or focus your poem's topic to a dog, dog sledding, dog sled racing, or the snow sledding experience.
Complete A Dog Sled Racing WebQuest. Adapt or follow the procedures provided at the following webQuest sites.
1) Dream A Dream, Reach A Goal (Grades 5-6) by C.M. Frego
2) Great Sled Dog Debate
3) I Did, I Did, I Did the Iditarod Trail by M. Iandoli
4) Iditarod WebQuest by T. Elkins, A. Hooser, R. Madrid, and B. Ortiz
5) Running The Iditarod: The Last Great Race on Earth by S. Seagraves
Read A Sled Dog Tale. There are lots of good books about sled dogs including Akiak by Robert Blake, Dogsong by Gary Paulson, Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner, and WoodSong also written by Gary Paulsen. Others may want to read the classic Jack London tale about Buck, the sled dog in the Klondike who joins a pack of wolves. It can be found online at The Call of the Wild. You also might enjoy another of his books, White Fang.
Build A Dog Sled. You can find plans and ideas at (1) Build Your Own Dog Sled, (2) Building a Dog Sled, and (3) How to Build Sleds. Younger learners will need the assistance of adults and/or experienced wood workers. However, the content can also be used to build a scale model of a dog sled. Beginners might want to make a paper model of a dog sled; find directions at Make a Dog Sled Model!
Decide If Dog Sled Racing Is An Inhuman Event? Before you debate the issue, visit several more website that focus on the issue of the treatment of racing dogs (Links follow below). Then debate the issues and decide where you stand.
1) Activist: Iditarod Sled-dogs Abused (Page 1 of 2) from Environmental News Network
2) Dog Owner's Guide: The Iditarod
3) Iditarod: Fact, Not Fiction by J. Price
4) Is Racing Okay for Dogs?
5) Mushing: Life as a Sled Dog Doc
6) Sled Dog Action Coalition
7) Sled Dog Action Coalition from Animals in Print
8) Sled Dogs and Mushers by J. Schiller & R. Schiller from Crooked Creek Observer
9) Veterinary Educational Team (V. E. T.)
Create An Iditarod Journal. Follow the Iditarod and collect information and photographs that lead up to and focus on this year's competition. You can include web resources and newspaper and magazine articles. However, evaluate the material and only include the best articles in your journal. Also include your own writings that feature your observations, opinions, feelings and reactions to the events. Add entries to your journal at least 3 or 4 times each week during the Iditarod season. Insert your related articles and illustrations for each entry. Continue your journal to include a followup or summary section after the race ends.
Websites By Kids For Kids
Iditarod Resource (Grade 4) from McLean School, Potomac, Maryland
Learn about the race and its history, wolves, sled dogs, Alaska, and more.
Related Website:
2) Alaska & The Iditarod (Grade 5) from Nannie Berry Elementary, Alaska
More Websites
Scroll down the webpage. This site features photographs of the Iditarod and a few other dog sled races.
Anatomy of a Dog Sled
Sled dogs have been pulling sleds and carrying supplies and people for thousands of years. The traditional materials for sled construction included wood, bone, sinew, and rawhide. Steel bolts came later, and were followed by plastics, aluminum, and today, materials like Kevlar and carbon fiber. Regardless of the materials, all modern dog sleds have certain common characteristics.
Related Website:
2) Basic Dog Sledding Equipment
3) Dog Sled Basics
Balto by Jean Craighead George, Incredible Animal Adventures from Harper Collins Publishers
Read chapter 1 of the story of this sled dog that helped save a town.
Related Websites:
2) Balto from PBS's Nature
3) Balto, the Wonder Dog from Roadside America
4) If Sculptures Could Talk . . . Balto
5) Real Balto
6) Story of Balto from USA Network
7) Was Balto a "Hero Dog?" from The Cleveland Museum of Natural History
British Musher's Association
The goal of this UK organization is to promote sleddog racing and to educate both mushers and the public about our sport.
All the adventure, none of the frostbite. Here you find news and stories of dog sled racing.
English Musher Max Hall
Learn about this English Iditarod musher's race history and dog team.
Few Other Musher Sites:
2) About DeeDee (DeeDee Jonrowe)
3) Jeff King from Husky Homestead
4) Joe Runyon on Mushing
5) Libby Riddles (First woman to win)
6) Iditarod Champions - Happy Trails Kennel (Martin Buser)
7) Stephen Lee
8) Susan Butcher from Women in Alaska's History
Equipment (Dog mushing) from Salty Dog Kennel
Dog Mushing is a equipment demanding sport. Needs include things from dogsleds, food dishes, kennels, doghouses, lines, harnesses, dog trucks, and much more.
How the Iditarod Got Started
This brief online article summarizes the history of the race.
Related Websites:
2) Epidemic
3) Great Race of Mercy (Slide presentation) by M. Frazel
4) History of 1925 Serum Run
5) History of Sled Dog Racing
6) Iditarod History
7) Iditarod Trail Dog Sled Race
Iditarod National Historic Trail from Bureau of Land Management, Alaska
This site contains maps of the trail and information on its history and management.
Related Websites:
Iditarod National Historic Trail from GORP
Iditarod Race Trail Map
John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon from Duluth, MN
Visit the site of the longest sled dog race in the lower 48 states.
Related Website:
2) John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon by K. Peddle
Other Dog Sled Races:
3) North American Open Sprint Dog Races
4) Yukonquest
This is the magazine of dog-powered sports.
Sled Dogs: An Alaskan Epic from PBS's Nature
Learn what it takes to pull a sled, read the story of the brave husky Balto, or try your hand at a dogsledding game.
Related Website For Sled Dogs:
2) Alaskan Malamute from American Kennel Club
3) Chinooks Worldwide
4) Colors of the Siberian Husky
5) Everything Husky!
6) Samoyeds
7) Siberian Husky
Sled Dog Care Guidelines from Mush With PRIDE
This document represents the collected experience of over 200 mushers. Recognizing that there are many ways to care well for sled dogs, this organizzation shares their desired practices of good sled dog care.
Related Website:
Art Stoller's 20 Tips for Successful Sled Dog Racing from Sled Dog Central
Sled Dog Central
This website's purpose is to provide access to sled dog products and information for all levels of mushing experience, across the spectrum of of mushing activities.
Working Dog Web
This comprehensive site includes guides to dog breeds, information about training and sports, and resources on the Iditarod and other dog sled races.
Related Website:
2) Working Dogs by C.T. Moore
Websites For Teachers
Alaskan Iditarod Sled Dog Race, An Interactive Unit Study by S. Smith
This teacher's website has tons of ideas for activities and also links for information and resources for incoporating the Iditarod into learning. It is updated yearly.
Build a Dog Sled by M. Larscheid from Wells Fargo's Teacher's Tool Box
Students are allowed two class periods of 48 minutes to build their sleds. Sled sizes may vary from life-size to two inches.
Education Expedition (Grades 4-6) by T. Burton from Cabela's Iditarod
The activities include a compilation of five web-based lessons and a fun quiz.
Related Curriculum Site:
2) Iditarod
Iditarod (Grade 6) by J. Olson from Wilder Elementary School, Grand Forks, ND
This classroom website contains themed activities and project ideas plus lots of links for the Iditarod.
Related Site:
2) Sanhusky's Iditarod Den by J. Price
Iditarod from PBS TeacherSource's Mathline
Prepare for your classroom lessons with an array of supporting material—time charts, checkpoint guides and a map as well as a history and background of the Iditarod.
Related Website:
2) Iditarod: The 1000 Mile Dog Race
Iditarod by P. Riesland
This curriculum unit plan integrates reading, social studies and math with learning about the Iditarod.
Iditarod in the Classroom
Here you can find ways to integrate the race into your curriculum, and then share your own innovative ideas with other teachers.
Related Website:
2) Iditarod Resources for Teachers
Iditarod: The Last Great Race from Education World
Have you considered using the Iditarod as a teaching tool? Alaska's annual Iditarod Dogsled Race is a perfectly "teachable moment." Wise teachers use the race and the many Web sites connected with it to teach geography, math, reading, and language arts.
Iditarod Literature Ideas by J. Wong from Iditarod 411
This site houses links to lesson plans and activities involving literature and the Iditarod. (Note: It appears that this site will soon be moved to a new location)
Other Teacher Sites from Iditarod 411:
2) Activities
3) Are You Just Starting to Teach an Iditarod Unit?
Iditarod Dog Sled Race by J. Bernard
The overall intent of this unit is to help the students learn about the current Iditarod Dog Sled Race and it's history through a variety of activities.
Teacher on the Trail
Join online a classroom teacher selected yearly, as they log entries to the site containing curriculum ideas and activities.
sled dog
starting point
pull load
Alaskan Malamutes
tug line
mixed breed
polar regions
physical obstacle
Eskimo dog
red lantern
sled team
psychological obstacle
lead dog
Siberian huskies
double lead
point dog
humane treatment
swing dog
northern route
southern route
Created by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 2/03.