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T O P I C    R E V I E W
deleted Posted - 12/10/2007 : 05:17:20 AM
I am looking to collect a list of novice and recreational mushers.
People over 35 married with a family, the house, the bills, and 40+ hour a week jobs. People running 5 dogs or less. I have questions for this specific group that might help me in my situation.
I would then like to communicate with the people on this list via e-mail so not to clog up SDC's forum with this rather personal matter.
15   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
rwelshm Posted - 12/21/2007 : 5:55:33 PM
Hi There,

I'm 40+ and sled with 5 young siberians with the oldest 3 years old and the youngest 1 1/2. I work a normal job of 40-50 hours a week. Married with one teenager that comes out with me sometimes. I generally get out 3-4 times a week depending on conditions and weather. In the summertime I backpack with two or 3 dogs at a time. Five is too many to manage for summer backpacking.

I feed high end kibble with supplements such as eggs and salmon/cod liver oil when we are sledding. I dont race but just go for outings with the dogs.


zorra299 Posted - 12/21/2007 : 4:01:21 PM
Count me in!
Sledkids Posted - 12/16/2007 : 3:12:14 PM
I'm 38, have 4 kids, husband works 5 days a week. I work about 30 to 40 hrs a week on 3 different jobs. We have 5 sled dogs, all shelter dogs, and 2 pet dogs. My 11 yr old son will be entering his first race in January. My husband is too busy to drive the sled but thinks he wants to. He does however support my son and I, helping to groom/clear trails. He feeds dogs for me if I am preoccupied and helps to hold while hooking up if needed. Our dogs all live chained at night and free run during the day. Sometimes they come in the house as long as we are not too busy and the kids have most of their toys picked up :). When I am fall/spring training, I usually have at least 2 kids on the quad with me, if not all 4. I would love to have more dogs, but my husband is the rudder of our family. He keeps me from steering out of control!! I am thankful for that because there have been times when the dogs have put a financial strain on the family. I also have to make sure that I encourage him with his own interests and don't pay more attention to the dogs than I do to him or the kids. As long as I keep focused on the whole picture there seems to be harmony in our family.
Big Toe Posted - 12/16/2007 : 2:24:51 PM
I fit the outline; small siberian kennel had 13 down to 10 hoping to get down to own 2. We use to race, now we just sled and are enjoying that. Maybe some day will get back to racing.
Bob "Big Toe"
SiberMom Posted - 12/15/2007 : 09:05:30 AM
We fit...Recreational mushers with our six sibes! The fur kids range in age from 6 to 3. We are 40+ and 50+, and we both have 40+ hour a week jobs with 60 minute commutes. We started skijoring 5 years ago and have been sledding for 3. We both absolutely love it! Our two legged children are 21 and 18 and away at college. However, when they were home (and on vacations), the dogs were a "family activity". We shared all the responsibilities from scooping to running.

We feed once a day...2 cups of quality kibble and free water. After running, they get a bowl of water baited with a handful of kibble. Our trips range for 4-10 miles with either the sled or skis. However, we do have to watch our dogs. They tend to put on weight easily. That is why we do very little supplementing in their diet.

We are so lucky to all enjoy this sport together! Because I am married to a die hard morning person, he takes care of the morning chores, and I get all the grooming chores. Other than that, we share all duties. The dogs have made our "empty nest" bearable. We joke about what we would be doing with all our time/money now that the boys are in college. We are so glad we discovered Siberians!!!

We look forward to hearing from others who are enjoying our passion!
Susan Evenden Posted - 12/14/2007 : 08:49:53 AM
I fit. Four dogs.
onehappyautumn Posted - 12/13/2007 : 9:00:35 PM

I have a small kennel of four dogs. Two pull, one is a puppy and one has bad hips. I'm not over 35, but I'm 33. I have a house and bills and a 40+ hour a week job. While I don't have human kids I have a mother who needs care.

I am a recreational musher. My main goal was to use the sled and dogs for winter camping. I am addicted to dogs, and I believe they need to work. The sled was the one job that worked for the most of them.

My dogs get good kibble with suplements at times, twice a day. They also have access to unlimited water several times a day, but are not left with bowls of water as they tend to sling them and have water wars.

My dogs live with me, so the whole water fight thing just can't happen. My dogs are my kids.

This is my second season mushing. I try to get the dogs out everyday for a short run - usually with me jogging, or bike ride (can only do one at a time then).

We don't really follow anyones schedule but our own. And I hate 'training'. The idea of running loops so we can get 'miles' makes me want to vomit. We have adventures. We go on treks. We haven't raced, but may be running our first (short) race soon. And if we do run it the goal will be to finish, have fun and socialize. I couldn't care less if we win place show or just finish.

How do I ballance between family and dogs...

There are things that my mother needs to. I moved away from her to do more with mushing, so it means that at least one weekend a month I commute 8 hours to help her do her shopping and take her about.

I've had to give a lot up. I have next to no social time with my friends. I dropped my dance classes. And hardest of all... I had two feet of gorgous corkscrew curls, curls down to my waist... Took me 8 + years to grow them... They required much more care then I had time for with the blending of my 4 dogs with his 4 dogs. They are gone. It's a shock each time I look in the mirror. But well worth it.

hope this helps.
deleted Posted - 12/13/2007 : 8:12:24 PM
A special note to those who e-mailed responces to me. I appologize for not getting back to you. They had gone into my junk mail folder by my mail server and then where lost before I could move and respond to them.
I do not want you to think you where ignored,I wish I could retreive them.
Please forgive me.
odaroloc Posted - 12/12/2007 : 1:30:11 PM
We are rec folks too. Mostly interested in exploring and longer runs. Our kennel consists of 17 dogs - castoffs, shelter dogs, and assorted odds and ends (lots of odds...) that would not be running with most other teams. We have a free-run kennel, everyone is altered, dogs get to come inside on a rotating basis. We do lots of school visits and put on a few race events - things more "serious" mushers don't have time for. Best compliment I have gotten in a long while was when my vet said she wanted to be reincarnated as one of my sled dogs.
deleted Posted - 12/12/2007 : 06:30:09 AM
Thank you all for sharing your personal experiances and situations. I have been given alot of food for thought and I will be putting it to good use.
Thank you again.
EllieRose Posted - 12/11/2007 : 1:05:49 PM
Here's what works for me. Like everyone else has pointed out it's all about prioritizing. I don't have kids at this point but I moved my husband of only a year 8 hours away from his family so I put my best effort forward to ensure he gets attention and we take the opportunity to do things he likes to do. My dogs didn't live with us until the week after we got married. So needless to say he was comfortable with them until he saw the bills related to them, the equipment and all the time necessary. They moved in last year one week after we got married. Once that happened I've returned to my original obsession from years past. I spent ALOT of time working with my pups, training and retraining lead dogs and just spending hour after hour outside. Hubby got a little cranky so I tried to get him help out. My hope was that he would get bit by the bug and problem solved. Not so lucky- those of you with spouses who get into mushing are very fortunate.

So after that failed I encourage him to pursue his passions, ie golf and hunting. I support him entirely in that and in turn he's more comfy with my activites. I'm sure that if we had kids it would have gone very differently. I work 40-50 hours per week, he works 45. He drives 4 miles to work and as a consultant I average about 3,000+ miles a month. Not alot of time at home.
So to answer your questions:
1) My dogs are on a high quality kibble year round. In the summer I stick very close to feeding rates due to having some neutered dogs. They also get free choice H2O until it starts to freeze. Once water freezes and we are up and running continuously they get kibble with baited water. They are fed twice a day year round and I clean the kennel at both feedings. We also have some short play time before we eat to ensure they are getting enough me time. I also finds this helps when I need hubby to feed for me- the routine is set.
2)We did the weekend warrior thing last season with hubby helping out. Got way too frustrating for him and I had to accept that he wasn't into this. So this season I ran all the dogs with my Mtn bike and will be running on snow with friends I've made through the local mushing club. That way my dogs get trail time, the opportunity to do some passing etc and hubby can sit at home enjoying life with out holding onto crazy dogs. We are looking at 3-5 runs per week with mileages currently at 2-3 miles dryland. Aiming for sprint races, 4 dog class.
3) Juggling between the dogs and family is hard. I've been doing this for 12 years- since I was a freshman in highschool. People and dogs both suffer. My friends slowely disappeared and now that we're far enough from home we don't see our family that often due to traveling with the dogs or paying someone to take care of them while we are gone. You definitely have to find that balance. I love my dogs and what we do as a team but my husband deserves the same level of devotion that the dogs get. So I make sure that we take time to do the things he enjoys, ask about his day and his activites. I've had to learn that he really doens't care a whole lot about the day to day things in the kennel or good poops, dog food debacles etc so don't force it on him. Once you find that balance good things happen. In my case I've been good about keeping hubby where he wants to be in relation to the dogs and in turn he's developing some interest, talks about dogs, asks questions and spends more time outside- I may not get him out on the trail any time soon but the balance has been struck for now. I know it can be difficult but set your priorities and be open to new schedules and you'll see that everyone's needs get met.

The other aspect that is hard to balance is the expense associated with this sport. I've done everything I can to keep that in check. Yes higher quality food is more expensive but healthier dogs are less expensive. I have a savings bank for husky related things. I do not pull from his paycheck only mine. It usually relates to my commisions from work, cash gifts etc. That way it doesn't seem to affect the bottom line of the household budget. Vet bills and dog food are taken from the houshold budget but it is budgeted in and if I go over that amount I have to account for it and face the consequences.
THZSteele Posted - 12/11/2007 : 10:15:27 AM
Gotta keep it in balance...or at least be honest enough with your self to admit what your priorities are...I've been down that road when I first started out was obcessed with mushing when ever I could...My wife felt much the same way you did and after a couple "come to Jesus" talks I really had to be honset with myself and decide what was more important to Wife, and kids, or my dogs. A few of things for us that have worked for us...

1. We BOTH agreeed that the needs of our family come 1st. Humans eat 1st, Wife gets attention, kids get attention, bills get paid, ect BEFORE anythign to do with the dogs.

2. In order to keep 12 sled dogs they had to earn thier keep. We do enuf tours to pay for their annual food bill. The rest is made up from money I earn from money incentives that I get for being on the local EMS/Fire dept. Very little of my actual pay check goes to the dogs...most goes to support my family.

3. We agreed she'll treat the dogs like pets and I treat them like working animals...that's not to say I don't love them but as with our pet dog they don't come in the house and sleep on the bed with us ect.

4. She realized how important running these dogs was to me and chose to support my endevors. She helps with race plans, helps handle customers that go on rides/tours, packs my bags for extended trips/overnight I do with the dogs. We all like camping and she and the kids comes on spring, and Fall campout with us. We go to weight pulls together and she has pulled a dog in the pulls...

Like I said in a previous post you both got to be intentional about what your both need. My wife needed my attention and for be to spend time with her, my kids and family, friends...I needed to spend less time with the dogs but she realized that I do need that time with my dogs...

Now I run more and sped more time on the trail with my dogs than i did when we 1st started on this priority is still my family...hope that make sense
Gail Posted - 12/10/2007 : 10:26:44 PM
Okay, here goes. My dogs all live inside. They get fed a good quality kibble twice daily and have fresh water available all the time. Whenever there are any table scraps leftover they get that in their food, and in the winter I like to add a little extra (for instance I'll make them up their own soup or stew). The dogs have a fenced backyard that they can exercise in, plus they're farm dogs and spend hours outside with me daily, doing chores and other stuff, running around wrestling and playing. When there's no snow I do a bit of agilty with some of them and frisbee too (just started competing in disc trials with one dog). Because I work from home seasonally, and not at all in the winter, it does give me lots of time for the dogs, which is nice. A typical day for me right now would mean feeding the dogs around 7am, getting my daughter off to school (and often walking a dog or two with us down the road to meet the schoolbus), then take all the dogs with me out to do farm chores, spend a while packing my trail (with snowshoes and pulling a bale of hay on a sled - time consuming, but good exercise and the dogs get to run along and play). After all that's done I'll usually get out the dogsled (maybe around 10:30-11am?)and take the dogs around my trail. It's not long, probably only about 1-1 1/2 km, but there are several different loop options so that I can do laps to make up more distance and work on gee/haw commands. In the afternoon I'll again usually take a dog or two down to meet the bus, then evening chores and suppertime (for us and the dogs) On the weekends I get my daughter involved with chores and the dogs, my husband isn't though. He's not really interested and he puts in so many hours that he's away from home a lot. Daughter will take a dog or two around our trail though, and we go out to 5 races each season for her to enter the kid & mutt classes. Right now I'm working with 2-4 dogs, depending on if I hook up the puppies. Before there was snow I was running just the 2 adults on my 3-wheeled rig and had them up to doing 4 miles. I do lot of the training myself when I'm home alone, but get my daughter involved whenever possible. Besides the racing she also participates in the disc dog trials.

In the winter I have the most "me" time for family and dogs, but the other 3 seasons I work as the weather permits, teaching riding lessons from here at home. The hours can vary but I do get to set my own schedule and take a day off here and there to attend a disc trial or horse show. And of course, chores still have to be done daily regardless of the season so the dogs get lots of free running time with me every day when I'm out feeding the horses, chickens, turkeys, peacocks, rabbits, cats...

I also have an old house that could really use renovating, but that's just not happening right now. Ha, it barely gets cleaned, let alone fixed up. I have a bad back (herniated disc), plus some tendon damage in my shoulder and wrist so I tend to avoid housework as much as possible and spend my energies on the dogs and sledding instead. There's a limit to how hard I can push myself and I tend to look at it as wasted time if I spend all my energy on the house and can't do anything with the dogs. In all honesty, with 6 dogs living in the house and the dust and doghair everywhere, who can tell if it was vacuumed a day ago, a week ago, or a month ago? It's just as bad again the next day.

As for mushing becoming addicting, I know exactly what you mean. I even wrote a humorous article about it for my website. If you're interested, you can view it here Just scroll down to the story titled, From Pastime to Passion
Dougskijors Posted - 12/10/2007 : 8:41:09 PM
Hi Diesel;
Not quite your scenario but close:

My 3 dogs live inside but have a decent fenced yard where they play as much as they want That helps with exercise if other commitments become overwhelming.
(Interestingly, they have now 2 sets of friends' dogs who get dropped off several times a week to get tired out).

I feed high grade fish-based kibble, supplemented with butcher bones, chicken dog soup (from the weekly chicken skeleton) and about 1-2 can of tuna per week.
They have continuous access to water.

I scooter in summer, skijor in winter, jog them occasionally, take them on walks and for free-runs on the local marsh pasture. Total: 20-80 km/wk. Luckily I can do all this from my door or within a 10 min drive.

My children (3) and wife all participate to an extent, particularly with skijoring and walking. I gave up most of my other hobbies & socializing time.
MegC Posted - 12/10/2007 : 8:24:39 PM
FWIW husband and I work (mostly) 40h/week, 40 mile round trip commute, and have a 2yo daughter.

Do you all have your dogs on a strict diet and watering program? Or do feed them good grades of kibble and make sure they have water all the time?

Dunno what you mean by 'strict' but I feed 1c of kibble + glucosamine + 1q of water in the morning, top off the kennel buckets when I put them out with hot water, then feed 2-3c kibble + 1c water + zinc + meat or Impact at night. If they want more plain water at night they get it of course. When I'm running I'll often slip a cup or so of baited water both before and after just to make sure they're sufficiently hydrated.

I have GSPs so they eat a lot.

How many times a week do you run and what kind of milage?
Do you follow the same schedual and season the, excuse me, "big guys"?

We run regularly from September through March if I can pull it off. I try not to do more than 2 days in a row off unless something goes haywire, and mostly aim for 3-4 runs a week. One run a week is a fast 2 or 3 miles out my driveway, just something fun to pick them up on a night when I'm tired. I have a few other 5-8 mile trail options close by I reserve for the weekdays or Sunday night. I try to get one 8-12 mile run in on the weekend, but I'm increasingly conscious of the gas I'm burning for these excursions.

And how do you juggle the time between family and sledding ?

I'm doing it and I don't know how, lol. And it's very hard. You have to be flexible IMO. My husband realizes the dogs aren't snowmobiles that can be parked all week, and ideally I have some weekend days totally devoted to what he wants to do as well. Gotta give a little to get a little.

Just this weekend we took the plunge and got hold of a kid's pulk so we can ALL go out- me, husband, kid, & dogs. I really hope mushing for us can become more of a 'whole family thing', at least on the weekend. Video from our Saturday adventure:

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