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123 Posts

Posted - 02/27/2007 :  1:33:19 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
The sport of mushing is in decline in many areas with the exception of eastern Canada. What do you do to promote dog mushing? Floaters sometimes think that a little constructive criticism is their contribution, while others go to the schools and talk to students about the sport, put on dog races, give sled rides, and help out the rookies to get started. This the time to blow your own horn so maybe others can get the idea that they could do some of the things that you do to promote dog mushing.

Harris English

Harris English

Jason M

390 Posts

Posted - 02/27/2007 :  4:22:55 PM  Show Profile  Visit Jason M's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I do nothing to promote the sport. This is my selfish hobby- its all about me and my dogs. I own 2 businesses (a outfitting/adventure travel company and I'm a partner in a restaurant). I also teach a class at the local university and write a column in a magazine. I work countless hours promoting my other life- mushing is an escape from that reality. It is my sanity and keeps me balanced and reminds me that there are other things in life other than business. Call me what you want- I don't care. I'll come to your events if their close enough, and I'll appreciate your efforts and not criticize. But, honestly I didnt get into this pursuit for more community involvement, or to increase the participant numbers. I got into for the dogs, and the places they take me.
Jason Matthews
Livingston, Montana

Edited by - Jason M on 02/27/2007 4:39:54 PM
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973 Posts

Posted - 02/27/2007 :  4:27:00 PM  Show Profile  Visit EllieRose's Homepage  Reply with Quote
It's people like Cliff that I can thank for my habit. As a freshman in highschool my teacher did an integrated unit on the Iditarod. We read Gary Paulsen books, watched videos and wrote to the mushers running the race. I was assigned DeeDee Jonrowe as my musher to write to. I didn't get any great in depth response, more like a thanks for your support etc. That was still cool. We didn't have any local mushers in the area so we traveled the 45 minutes south to Lake Placid and I got to talk to a musher who gave tours on the lake. Went for a ride, talked my mom into a couple of rescues and I was hooked. That was ten years ago. So even though it wasn't you Cliff- it's people like you that bring kids like me into the sport.
That said I have always tried to do the same. I don't race, just recreational but I make time in my schedule to go to schools elementary through college and talk about the sport. I also help out with humane societies etc in educating the public about how to care for your dog and how wonderful rescues can be. I take every opportunity given to me to get people involved. It may not be much but it creates a positive view of our sport. Now I'm in a new area and I don't know many people but I hope to continue what I do.
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mush in quebec

136 Posts

Posted - 02/27/2007 :  5:03:53 PM  Show Profile  Visit mush in quebec's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Internet ... we have here a media wich is ( almost ) free, wich allow us to promote our sport in the best way... updates, pictures, videos, forums, this things are catchy for the mushers but for the curious too ... I don't know the numbers of SDC, but on my website I have 30 000 visitors per month ( the ones coming back aren't counted) , and there are no 30 000 mushers in Québec... so obviously, there is people looking for it, who enjoys seing races momentum, races results, and ... end up on the border of the trail to see in real life what they have seen on the web!!
For sponsors, it looks good too, they go to the website and see all the different activites , races, communication, nice design helps a lot, and it looks pro to them, and their ads are online 24hours/day, not just for a race lost at the end of the road ...
In the topic of the world record, I said it already : we have here a medium wich allows us to speak together no matter where we are.. instead of using it as a new gadget ( I talk, you talk, but I don't really care about your ideas) the whole community is already able to share ideas wich would improve our sport !! we have already the tools, but we are not using them to the level we could... per example, if all the organisers of races were already taking the REAL distance of their races, we would have a professional scale to know who has the best teams, I see around 3 000 people saw that topic on different forums, but none has said, ok let's do it and compare real distance and times done in Alaska and ..somewhere else... no, people make post answers saying that their trails are better, or to say that the idea might be good but why put some energy in that, so nobody moves...
Another example : if the organisers were sending partial results, people would follow the race from their home on saturday night ... I have over 3 000 people coming on the website just to see partial results, and they are definitly not the racers ( wich are definitly competing), so somewhere there are a interest ....
This is part of the promotion wich gives real results ... promoting our sport with internet is one of the major way we can achieve staying alive, I believe this...

No tv is interested in reporting about dogs who are running, it doesn't fit with the urban culture where dogs are now baby getting fat and lazy and replacing the last kid wich became a are eventually interested in showing expeditions, long races ( Idi..) because it looks like the ancient ways, the wild , the guys with the fur hat and the beaver mitt, for the urban people, this look cool.. they will be back reporting on our races when we will have done our homework, wich is promoting, it,s up to us to show them that our sport has evolved, that we are now in the 21 st century with new technologies , new nutrition, athletes, and the best way to achieve that is ..internet and how to use it...

Now, as long as I am on the subjet, let's talk cash ...I believe the futur of our races will be by people who will manage their races like a business ... you make money doing your race, the racers get their share, everybody is happy... if your race is good, secure, racers will be back, and you don't lose your energy as a voluntary unpaid want to put so much cash in your pocket and not take care of the racers ? they won't be back, and you're dead... you learn how to balance the money you earn and the purse, your event goes on.. it has been tried before, could be one option now again...

Look at SDC... I know, I have same kind of website on the french side... how many hours do we spend taking care of our website ? Steve, Judy ? It takes me over 20 hours per week on mine, since 1998 ... everybody is happy about it, using it, coming to read all races results and so on... but if you did lose SDC, what would you do ?? get your infos from somewhere else, ok.. and after few years, move again to somebody else ?? why ? do you feel normal that people spending so many hours on creating events, races, or internet informations are unpaid ? is is a tradition ? a taboo ? why should it be just the racers doing some cash to repay their kennel expense ? why not the people creating the races too ? and the ones promoting it too ? so, to me, an another option would be to make the cash in our sport one option wich should be talked instead of just saying that it doesn't matter, it does... no cash, no dogs, no races, no sponsors, no promotion ...


Edited by - mush in quebec on 02/27/2007 5:31:11 PM
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135 Posts

Posted - 02/27/2007 :  6:15:04 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
It is with great interest I note the recognition that Quebec is receiving for their outstanding race circuit. I've raced there quite a bit and can testify that nearly all of the events which I have attended have had the key components which make a sport recognizably professional. So bear with me while I throw my hat in the ring and offer some analysis, or at least insight, into why racing is so successful there. Although numbered in some way, these are not listed necessarily by importance.

First of all, aside from race officials who are typically mushers, there is little if anything, demanded of the drivers in regards to managing the race. All you have to do is show up, pay your fees, and race. 4 wheelers are generally available for teams to reach a clearly marked starting line, where you will find a solid post to hook to during the countdown. I've never been asked, nor seen drivers used as trail help, although I've seen some head out to watch along the trail when there is easy and convenient access to do so. And yet the quality of the trail help shouldn't be questioned as these people generally know exactly what they're expected to do. The timing is pretty professional and results are posted fairly fast. One thing worth noting, there are rarely sportsman classes. I've seen considerable debate about this in these forums, but take a look. They typically pull 30+ team in 6 and Open, which predominate the circuit. And check out the times. The range in the top teams, and even throughout the lineup, is typically close enough to warrant serious attention to possible changes on day 2 (or 3). At odds with some comments I've seen here, they typically pay down 20 or 25 places. Finish the race and you've got a damn good chance of getting your money back. That encourages mushers to compete. Draws of 10 teams, regardless of the quality, don't excite the media and make us look like we're on the fringe (which maybe we are, but they don't need to know that...)

Secondly, I would say that many of the courses there are spectator friendly, providing easy access for good viewing. True, many of the events are out and back trails, which most mushers prefer to avoid because of the stress in passing, but these have the advantage of providing a location where a spectator can watch considerably more competition than a loop trail in which the teams pass by, never to be seen again. Instead, they can measure the progress twice and get a sense for how the teams are doing relative to one another. Personally I love those trails that wander off into the deep woods where I need not worry about loose dogs or other distractions and can focus entirely on the team and the serenity of mushing, but they suck for spectators. So if you face up to the fact that sled dog racing should be a measure of not just the speed of the team, but their training as well, then head-on shouldn't be an issue, assuming there are no blind and thus dangerous corners. Although it's worth considering that some of the interest in auto racing revolves around the danger of crashes and thus this element adds to the lure rather than detracts from it. I don't mean to imply that we should setup situations like that, but if you understand the mentality that is attracted to any kind of racing, then you know this is one of the elements that appeals to people.

Third, unless the weather is prohibitive, the races are well attended by spectators, many of who are not just curious or interested, but knowledgeable about our sport. I believe this aspect sets Quebec apart from many other areas because that level of understanding about what we do is lacking elsewhere. I was stunned at one of my early races there when at several spots along the trail, spectators would shout out to me my time relative to the team ahead of me. Who needs radios when you've got people like that on the trail? This is considerably different from the northeast US, which I think has a similar history of mushing, but which now has a population that regards it as much more of an oddity than do the Quebecois.

Fourth is the money. There has, in the last couple of years, been a dramatic increase in the size of the purses at their events. I don't know the reason for this, maybe Marc can illuminate us about that, but the fact is someone is pouring more money into the sport there when elsewhere purses are dwindling.

There's probably more to say that I can't think of now, and it's a rather lengthy post by my standard already, so I'll conclude by noting that at a time when our sport seems to be suffering elsewhere, it is not just thriving, but clearly growing in Quebec. What do they know that we don't (besides their own version of French)?

Oh, and one more thing. Like it or not, the biggest issue facing the growth of this sport is the weather. Just like us, sponsors and the media are not at all interested in throwing their resources into the wind in the hopes that it will blow the right way. Race cancellations are the assassins of professional level mushing and if you don't believe that, then pull your head out of the sand, (snow if you've got any) and get a grip, 'cause that's reality my friends.
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GA Musher

36 Posts

Posted - 02/28/2007 :  09:39:58 AM  Show Profile  Visit GA Musher's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Actually, mushing is really increasing in popularity here in the Southeast! New members are regularly joining the SEMushers list and looking for information on how to teach their dog to mush. It's mainly drylanding with a scooter or bike but I think that this may be the future of the sport. Some of these people get hooked running the family pet and then start wanting a team and go to a snow race just to check it out...

As far as promoting the sport, I just run. In this area it attracts quite a bit of attention. There was a "Serum Run" re-enactment in VA last January and you would not BELIEVE the crowds. Part of the trail was visible from the road and people were pulling over or driving really, really slow. If felt like the 4th Of July (except it
was colder)! Several of the people even signed up for a local mushing clinic!


"Dog & Sled" -
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176 Posts

Posted - 02/28/2007 :  11:11:49 AM  Show Profile  Visit heathera's Homepage  Reply with Quote
What can we do to promote dog mushing? Here are two ideas:

1. Create events for newcomers and non-competitive racers in proportion to their numbers. A healthy sport is like a pyramid, with a few really competitive elite racers at the top, and tons of hobbyists and novices at the bottom. Think of a 5K running race: The winners live to run, but most of the particpants only run occasionally, and they might race if it's convenient, or their friends are going, or it's for charity. They don't need cash prizes or trophies, just a ranking and a time to shoot for next year.

2. Glorify the dogs. They deserve it. Spectators of dogsledding love dogs and they want to know more about them as individuals.

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123 Posts

Posted - 02/28/2007 :  2:33:17 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Are your ideas for promotion something you have put into practice at the races you are involved with or they just suggestions for others to implement. I think that your ideas are good and I agree that any sport that is popular has a large base of occasional participants, and a few elite at the top. It doesn't matter at what level we participate, the key is if we do what we can to promote the sport in some way.
What do you actually do to promote mushing?

Harris English
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194 Posts

Posted - 02/28/2007 :  2:40:25 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Heather practices what she preaches and is quite sucessful at it. If the rest of us followed her example our sport would be much better off. Check out her website...
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123 Posts

Posted - 02/28/2007 :  3:51:38 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I checked out Heathers site. She is doing a super job. Putting on events takes so much time and energy that people don!t realize all that is involved until you do one semselves.
Years ago Saskatoon used to have fun races and some of the mushers that participated in these races went on to race in more advanced races that had purses. I remember two of these mushers discussing an upcoming race that they would attend, and they said that there would be professional racers at the race. They named my daughters who where 5 and 8 years old as two of the pro!s.
Keep up the good work Heather, we need more people like you!

Harris English
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319 Posts

Posted - 03/01/2007 :  2:08:01 PM  Show Profile  Visit Jen's Homepage  Reply with Quote
My malamute club sets up educational booths at the state fair and other pet fairs--we don't hold races, we hold weight pulls, but the ideas behind getting sponsorship are about the same. We try to make our sponsors realize how much we appreciate what they do--we have links on our website, we have banners at the events, talk them up over the P.A. system between pullers, invite them to join us for our annual awards banquet, and send them an 8x10 of the dogs pulling with the banners and in some cases, the dog food they donate, in the photo. We get out and do parades, individual members of the club do school programs. We don't reserve our efforts just for the winter, our biggest public event is the State Fair booth the first week in August when probably a thousand people shuffle by. We just bring fans and enough dogs to rotate them.

You don't have to have a formal club, just a group of some people to talk, bring dogs and a sled, and whip up a brief educational flier. And people really love to see pictures!

We hold at least 1 working date (usually two) per month where we get together and run dogs or backpack--remarkably, we reach out to a lot of people on the trails and people have responded very well. Most of us run more than that but it's those times that we get the most attention because there are so many teams/dogs and it makes such an impression. We're all rec people but the people we've met on the trail get a huge kick out of it all the same.


Powderhound Alaskan Malamutes
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830 Posts

Posted - 03/01/2007 :  8:43:43 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Doesn't take much to be a promoter: When I came out of the grocery store tonight there was a couple waiting to ask me about the MUSH bumper sticker on my car - they have a Husky and wanted to know what happened to the local race this year. Long story made short - I will be in e-mail contact to encourage their 17 yr. old runner son to try canicross!

Sally J. Dawson and the Mushing'dales
N1BCF; "RED HAT" Musher
Live each day as if it is your last
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56 Posts

Posted - 03/02/2007 :  09:22:16 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi THere,

I new to the sport and only mush recreationally with 3 sibs. I started skijoring with two now have three and currently looking for a 4th sib. As far as I know there are only maybe 3 or 4 mushers in this area. One we try to get a run out every sunday and in different areas. Just being out on some of the Cross country trails here I think promotes the sport. I spend a lot of my day on the trails talking to skiers and in some cases people on ski doos with all kinds of questions.

The dogs are the stars but like some for me its about getting out by myself with the dogs and just some stress off and relax. Its something I've always wanted to do and this winter has been on of the best I've ever had.

Maybe if I get time I'll do a day at a school or something with the dogs.


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119 Posts

Posted - 03/04/2007 :  06:38:08 AM  Show Profile  Visit kenhaggett's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I have started a tour business here in Vermont this season and that gives me a lot of opportunity to expose people to the sport. Of course in many cases it is preaching to the choir as most folks who book a dogsled ride are already interested in the sport. I also offer skijor lessons and scooter lessons to help folks with basic interest to get started running their dogs. This time of year I seem to have a lot of requests for school presentations. I have found that a large number of schools in our area do winter programs based on the Iditarod and they love to have a musher come to visit so the kids can see mushing in person. I really enjoy the excitement on the school visits and like the think that maybe out of each presentation I do there may be one future musher in the group. At the very least it allows me to put a positive face on the sport. Mushing is a huge part of my life and I enjoy being able to share it with others and all of these activities allow me to spend more time working with my dogs.

Ken Haggett
Lake Elmore, Vt.
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645 Posts

Posted - 03/04/2007 :  08:27:00 AM  Show Profile  Visit ChuckCubbison's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Here in the Colorado Foothills, we have a group called the Animal EVAC Volunteers. The organization was started by several mushers, because we have large dog trucks and we started using these to assist with removing small animals that were in evacuation areas due to wildland fires. The group now includes a fair number of non-mushers, but we will always need the mushers as a "core group" because of the vehicles. The primary purpose of our organization is to help our neighbors in time of need...but the secondary purpose is to educate people about our sport. The benefits to mushers in our area are great, both in terms of gaining awareness in the community about who we are, and also in terms of having good relationships with the Animal Control folks and others in the larger "animal community."

Throughout the United States, there is now a mandate to include animals in plans for disaster response...and mushers are most certainly capable of being involved in their local disaster plans, both in terms of their equipment and their experience handling small animals. You will need a few folks who are interested in getting involved in a little bit of emergency planning and training (for instance, our group now has six members who are trained and certified as wildland firefighters). The remainder of your group doesn't need to be as involved on a regular basis, they just need to attend some basic training, and of course be prepared and willing to respond in times of need.

Don't misunderstand me...I don't think that the primary motivation for any mushers to form a group such as ours should be to promote the sport. The primary motiviation should be a desire to assist the animals and their owners in your local area if and when the need arises. The "PR" that the mushing community receives is just icing on the cake.

I am president of the local group and have a fair amount of experience with our local disaster planning process. If anyone would like more detailed information about how to get started setting up a similar group, please contact me by email and I will be happy to give you as much information as I can.

Chuck Cubbison
President, Animal EVAC Volunteers

Edited by - ChuckCubbison on 03/04/2007 08:30:02 AM
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1081 Posts

Posted - 03/05/2007 :  12:16:30 AM  Show Profile  Visit THZSteele's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I do it for the Money
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