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 boxing dogs at checkpoints

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jess_z0 Posted - 09/24/2007 : 1:33:28 PM
Now I was thinking about this the other day while i was building my new dog box.

I fail to understand why many distance races do not allow mushers to box dogs at checkpoints. The Canadian Challenge is an example of a race that does allow boxing of dogs at checkpoints. It has worked out really well there, especially since in the last couple of years there is always a real coldsnap of -50C weather. The welfare of the dogs seems to be what they are all focused on and if that is the case why not allow mushers the choose to box dogs rather then just straw on the ground.

The trucks are just sitting there, it just seems so stupid to lay straw on the ground, dogs have to sleep out exposed more to the weather etc. Then the handler has to pick up all the straw after the teams leaves. Wouldn't it be much simpler if the musher could just box the dogs? They off are off the ground with straw so much warmer, out of the wind, quieter space, there are many possible advantages to the dogs getting a better quality of rest.

I am not saying that dogs resting in the dog box is always the best option, I think it is weather and situation dependent, but why not give the mushers the option?

Lets move into the 21st century here and band together to change this rule.

14   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
pcurtice Posted - 09/26/2007 : 9:29:06 PM
Jess, you make some valid points but I don't think I have ever been in a checkpoint whether handling or riding the runners wishing I could box my dogs thinking that it will provide better care. But then again I probably have never experienced some extreme race conditions as others. It may be better for the dogs but I am not sure it is. Out of sight, out of mind...I would think for a majority of those who would box their dogs at a checkpoint. That wouldn't be good for the welfare of the dog. Oh, and by the way, dog trucks are not there for the dogs during the race, of course unless you drop one. They are there for the musher and/or handler if they wish, to relax in when the time comes. I wouldn't avoid a race that would allow you to box your dogs.
Runner Up, I agree with your first paragragh only.
Watcher Posted - 09/26/2007 : 8:23:20 PM
Haven't posted in a while and actually passed on joining Ed's thread on floaters....parasites?(dependence on something else for existence or support without making a useful or adequate return) Source: Marriam-Webster online
You choose.

Well back to this thread. I can think of several reasons why in a mid to long distance, continuous format race that dogs should not be boxed.
1) While vet checks are generally part of this format along the trail, much can be learned about how a dog/team is faring by watching them eat and drink while in a checkpoint. Hard for a vet to stand back and observe the general attitude of a team towards food and water if they are put in a box with a bowl of food and water.
2) In my part of the world most sponsors do so because they believe that they are providing a family recreational oportunity for their customers or potential customers during the dolldrums of winter. Not much spectator value in a row of dog trucks with their stars all tucked inside. Lots of spectator value in observing an efficient musher and/or handling crew making preperations for the arrival of their team, efficiently caring for the dogs, and bedding them down in a comfortable nest of straw.

3) The idea of the driver making all necessary arrangements for his/her dog team to rest comfortably no matter the weather conditions is a part of what it takes to succeed in this sport.

Yes, it is important to provide the maximum care for these canine athletes but it is possible to provide such care while preserving the spectator value, veterenary access and traditional asthetics of the sport. Maybe a little more work and planning, but they are well worth it.
Sophie Posted - 09/26/2007 : 4:37:21 PM
Being able to use the dog truck in the Quest this year at Circle when it was -60F and windy would have been better for the dogs no question. Even with jackets, blankets, straw they were still covered in frost and melted huge holes in the snow below. There should be allowances in the rules for these kinds of situations. At extreme temperatures like this I know all our dogs would rather be in the truck.

mushpuppy Posted - 09/26/2007 : 2:32:46 PM
I was just thinking about this again and I am betting that MENTALLY the dogs might have a hard time with being put in the box and then having to be dragged out again to run. If you are bedding them down on straw, you are telling them that "we are going to run again later," but going into the box means, "We're finished!"
However, I do like the idea of at least having the option to make our own choice.
JC Posted - 09/26/2007 : 1:27:19 PM
I also think it is better to have the dogs bedded on straw, like Shawn said, easier to work on a dog, for vets to look at etc. I see your point about not bedding them, but it would be annoying to box them and have to disturb them getting them out for a vet to look at or to put foot ointment on. When they are bedded on straw, they can be resting comfortably while you are doing all those things.
RunnerUp Posted - 09/26/2007 : 1:25:06 PM
For one of the first times I think I can agree with all earlier posts in the subject. However..if its a qualifier for a LD race yould better show that you can manage the dogs and yourself thru bad weather as well as nice... Giving if you are to run a tough race in the widerness, test it before the real thing.

But on the other hand.. If its not a qualifier for a LD..but a stage or alike..why not give the dogs the best treatment there is? Screw old ideas and lets remember that they (the oldtimers) perhaps wanted but couldnt acheive better. Today we can!

Bowls in fine..but keep in mind the peeing times in giving the dogs the best rest we can offer.

And if we are serious about olypics and such?
------Wed better give the rest of the world outside the mushing community the very best possible image concerning dog care!!----
datsun_1600 Posted - 09/26/2007 : 11:06:26 AM
Originally posted by Shawn

Better to feed since you can leave the bowl there with other snacks for the dog instead of in the boxes.

Why can't you leave a bowl in the box ?
Shawn Posted - 09/26/2007 : 09:12:01 AM
Dont you think that the dogs may get more attention out on their lines bedded down in the straw? Easier for vets to look at. Easier for the musher to attend to the dogs feet and other needs that may have to be addressed.Better to feed since you can leave the bowl there with other snacks for the dog instead of in the boxes.I rather see them out ,then inside a dog box. My theory would be out of sight out of mind. This way here they are getting attention. Yes I agree straw and blankets work wonders.
jess_z0 Posted - 09/26/2007 : 09:00:38 AM
Pete, Tammi

I think you are kind of missing the point. Of course its possible to look after the dogs outside, but I can think of several scenarios where I don't believe the quality of rest will be as good even with lots of straw and blankets, when the wind is blowing, or there is lots of people moving around the area a dog truck will provide a better environment to rest in. I dont care how much straw you pile on the ground (that your poor handlers have to pick up later ).

Then there is the other side of the coin, why go to all that effort when there is a dog truck sitting right there. Then you have to do all the clean up, surely we should be trying to lessen the burden on handlers. It just seems stupid to me, a waste of time, resources and energy.

Remote checkpoints are a different matter, there is no truck there so of course bed the dogs down. Qualifiers are also different because the mushers need to prepare for when they are in a remote location.

Yeah sled dogs are totally amazing I agree, yes of course they could be bedded down at each checkpoint and they would do fine. Lets not kid ourselves here, a lot races are not run out in some remote wilderness location, the dog truck is sitting right by the dogs. Why not have the option to use it, I mean we cart all our gear/food around in it that we use at the checkpoint, why not use the boxes as well? Any good wilderness traveler will make full use of the resources available to them, how is this different?

Really what we should be focusing on is allowing mushers to take the best care of their dogs. We spend our resources on providing the best food we can, the best massage ointment, feet ointment, equipment (harness etc) we can for our dogs. Why not provide them the best environment to rest in as well?

I just saying the rule should be amended to give the musher the option to box or not. The musher should be able to decide what they believe is in the best option for their dogs at that particular rest stop.

Surely more choices and options for the musher cant be a bad thing
Rogue Posted - 09/25/2007 : 9:35:50 PM
Yep...that's what we do. Nice bed of straw, they all get dog coats, then I cover them with a blanket once they've all settled down. And, of course, they have a nice, warm meal in their bellies. This year, they'll also have hand warmers on their shoulders, to keep them limber during races (once I get all of those pockets sewn on the dog coats!). Even my hounds do alright with this set up.
pcurtice Posted - 09/25/2007 : 7:37:56 PM
Throw a good layer of straw on the ground, put a jacket on your short haired dog and cover them with a blanket.
dogwouldfarm Posted - 09/24/2007 : 9:38:28 PM
Definately don't "remove" it! I think it is good to have a rule like that in some races. It keeps the spirit of certain races alive. The race organizers need flexibility to be able to put on a race that meets the goals of the race and while that almost always means the well-being of the dogs comes first, it may also mean keeping history alive by doing things in the same manner as "the old days".

I have always been intrigued by the hardiness of sled dogs and of course that of their human friends on the sled as well. It is what attracted me to the sport all those years ago! I understand that with the growth of the sport comes varying needs. Some of those needs are centred on the dogs and the chaging characteristics of sled dogs and some centre on the mushers. We are a diverse bunch now and range from the very young to very old, male/female, physically challenged or not... I'm sure the list goes on.

The neat thing is that there are many more races to participate in now and I think you can find a race that meets your needs without making or at least requesting a removal of such a rule.

Again, I am riding the fence! I think a mix is the best solution. Some races where boxing the dogs is banned, some not, some races where you can at certain checkpoints and not at other checkpoints.

Can you tell I am Canadian? Don't want to tick anyone off (must have some Swiss in me too). Very neutral!
THZSteele Posted - 09/24/2007 : 5:55:04 PM
It depends on the race format and our race we we have a remote checkpoint and one checkpoint back at the race start/finish. in our Iditarod Qualifier we do not allow dogs to be boxed as we have a no outside assistance rule. In our stage race 6 dog 75 mile race we allow for boxing of dogs after the first run but bed the dogs down on the 2nd night because we are in a remote checkpoint 25 miles from the trucks...

And IMO theese dogs are artic dogs and do fine in the extreme cold temps...the dogs are fine the've been out in the cold for thousands of years and are adapted to it...Don Duncan ran the Serum Run last winter and his sammies did great in the -50 temps...most of the time my dogs sleep on the snow and ignore the what fits for your race I don't see a need to remove this it gives your handler something to do to keep warm on those -50 mornings
mushpuppy Posted - 09/24/2007 : 2:51:51 PM
I agree with Jess and I have never understood this either. My first thought is that maybe it is for the benefit of the spectators? However, if your first thought is supposed to be for the comfort of the dogs then why not let us box them? The mushers are not going to keep them in the boxes for too long and risk letting them get too stiff, that wouldnt make any sense. If this rule was to prevent the switching dogs then why not get a microchipping system in place to prevent that?

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