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 Borrowing/swapping dogs to race- Why Not???
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Cliff Maxfield

2631 Posts

Posted - 06/14/2007 :  05:54:54 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
O.K. it crops up all the time on this site. No quote in particular but several have said- "I wouldn't borrow or trade off dogs from my kennel because - blah blah blah.....
Wow wait a minute. So your saying (for the sake of argument) you have - lets say four out of twelve dogs that are really exceptional, the chance to borrow eight more really exceptional dogs to make a super team but you would't do it BECAUSE you'd somehow crush the other dogs feelings? Gimme a break. It reminds me of the old Army commercial- Be all that you can be.
This equally applies to sled dogs. How will they ever get a chance to prove themselves. Out of our rescue kennel of forty, I've got maybe twelve dogs I figure would marginally cut muster in a mid distance stage race as mentions on another thread. Maybe four that could really compete. I'm not to proud to beg and borrow dogs from other kennels in order to enhance performance, to prove they are indeed exceptional. It is true your only as fast as your slowest dog and if they do well, ALL the dogs will benefit.
Besides what's stopping us from letting the world know exactly what dogs came from where. It would increase the credibility of all kennels concerned.
O.K. I'll cover myself in plastic. Let the rotten tomatoes fly

Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it...


828 Posts

Posted - 06/14/2007 :  1:37:28 PM  Show Profile  Visit sublunar's Homepage  Reply with Quote
No tomatoes.

A lot of dog borrowing happens here in Alaska. I ran two dogs in the North American that I'd never seen before the race, and had no idea were available before the night of the draw. One of the dogs was outstanding. Many other teams had borrowed dogs.

If I think it won't interfere with running the Fur Rondy, I might shop around my Open Class dogs to run the 25 mile stage of the new Alaskan stage race people are talking about, if I trust the driver and feel like they've got a decent chance to do well.
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1158 Posts

Posted - 06/14/2007 :  2:21:27 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
We also swap/borrow/loan dogs out quite often. With a smaller kennel and the marginal trail conditions we've had the last few years, we've ended up borrowing dogs from friends. We have loaned dogs to friends as well. Of course, if I have the chance to borrow a dog to fill out a team, I'll do it. Case in point, when my husband got ready to race the Chatanika Challenge, we had a few injuries left over from the Quest 300. So, we borrowed dogs from our friend Jodi (Jodi and I train together, so we're always swapping dogs back and forth). Manny took 2nd place in the 100. Plus, we got a fantastic dog from Sublunar (thanks again...she ROCKS!!) a week before the race. I feel that Zen helped lead us to that good finish. Not bad for my husband's first mid-distance race. I know other mushers in the Chatanika race who had pooled dogs from folks like the Seaveys and Jon Little...they didn't do too bad, either.

That's why I brought up the idea of a musher "borrowing" a sprint team for that 25 mile heat, then running other dogs. It would be fairly easy to do, particularly if the folks pooling dogs run/train together or are familiar with running styles, etc.

Ok Sublunar, was that a hint? Tee hee hee!!

Happy Trails!

"The more people I meet, the more I like my dogs."
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Mike Murphy

180 Posts

Posted - 06/21/2007 :  10:41:31 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I know that it's a common practice,,,and I have borrowed dogs in the past to race. It can be beneficial to both parties. I know Mushers that have had great success borrowing, lending or leasing dogs. Personally,,,I won't do it again. The dogs I borrowed were great dogs, 3 of the 4 finished the Can/Am 250 for me that year. But,,,I really didn't know those dogs. Didn't know how to read them. I sometimes overestimated them,,,,often underestimated them. It was rather confusing,,, for me and the dogs. Because of my limited knowledge of those dogs, I don't feel I was able to realize their full potential. Also because I sometimes focused more on them,,,,it took some of my focus off of my dogs.

As far as lending, or leasing dogs,,,I won't do that either. Although there are many very experienced folks out there borrowing or leasing dogs, successfully, I've seen too many cases of inexperienced people running borrowed, leased, or sometimes even recently purchased dogs, particularly in distance races, that didn't have a clue what they were doing. If you add strange or unknown dogs to that inexperience,,, I believe it increases the potential for serious problems out there. Not to mention the possibility of ruining some really good dogs,,, or having something happen that hits the public eye, and hurts the image of all Mushers. Of course, that's possible with or without borrowed or leased dogs.

I do understand there are some benefits as well. Adding a couple of really good dogs to a team "can" help a Musher place better in a race. An experienced dog or dogs can get an inexperienced Musher to the finish line on the dogs experience alone. Leasing dogs can be another source of income for the dogs owners. A leased or borrowed dog can get valuable "racing experience" which it might not get otherwise.

It's done all the time. It's an accepted practice in the Mushing community. I don't condemn it, nor condone it, I just choose not to participate in it.

God it's great to be an American! hehe

Edited by - Mike Murphy on 06/21/2007 11:02:45 AM
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1321 Posts

Posted - 06/21/2007 :  10:58:38 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I've borrowed several dogs for my rec team with really good results. However, my preference is to get the dog on my place in late summer so that s/he is settled in and familiar with me, my other dogs, and the kennel MO before training even starts.
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Daisy Acres

112 Posts

Posted - 09/04/2007 :  12:45:13 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I won't throw tomatoes...but how about a tennis ball?! (This might take my team off the trail and into open water....)

I was "trained" to mush with borrowed/swapped dogs. I personally think it's GOOD for the dogs to change owners/coaches/managers/teachers because it expands their mental capacity and their tolerances.

But I've loaned experienced race dogs to newbies and had them injured, and that broke my heart.

And I've borrowed dogs that I fell in love with and had to give back, and that broke my heart.

But my lead dog Ice taught me a lot. She refused to run for my mentor, flat out told her "you're not my boss." (And since I had specifically told this person that she was not to discipline my dog the way she sometimes disciplined her own, she ended up giving me my dog back!) And then I ended up "borrowing" the rest of my mentor's kennel so that I had a team worthy of racing with my lead dog!!! And we kicked butt! But she's 11 now, and she's also taught me that it's now how well you do, it's how well you do it and who you do it with.

So if you're out for the prize...and the prize is a win, borrow all you want but the victory will be hollow. (At least that has been my experience.) I borrow dogs because I'm curious about meeting new friends! I don't like to borrow from people I don't know or trust because their opinion of what makes a good dog may not jive with mine, and I don't think it's fair to the dogs to change the rules without some prior training/practice.

IMO a dog that lives to run and will run for anybody is sometimes the perfect loaner dog...but it's the connections between the dogs and me that makes the race, no matter the placing.


What have you learned from your dog today?
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Cliff Maxfield

2631 Posts

Posted - 09/04/2007 :  9:04:11 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I just finished reading "Running with Champions" by Lisa Frederic. I think it's fair to say(at least from what I got out of the book) she's never really owned a sled dog in her life but she trained Jeff Kings puppy team and ran them to Nome in the Iditarod. AND THEN she had to walk away. So I guess having to Walk away from a couple of borrowed dogs would be much easier- especially if they made the rest of the team shine. And all the dogs come out ahead and the Musher comes out ahead because they get to drive a better team. It's not about us humans or our ego's.
What do dogs know about hollow victories, I don't believe a dog knows the difference from first place and red lantern. Win, loose or draw they get a bunch of attention. They are doing something they love with someone they love and it's fun.
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124 Posts

Posted - 09/26/2007 :  1:56:38 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
To borrow or to buy?

The thing with a fine tuned team in the fullest context is that its hard to enhance with borrowed dogs unless they are equally tuned.

I know its done with horses, jockeys and alike..but hey its a 3 minute run or so..perhaps even shorter? There all harnessed up and handled by their usual say its different.

In LeMans or Datona 500 you wouldnt borrow a tire, a turbo or even an exhaust from another team during raceday but in crosscart perhaps you

To race a 2nd string i Idita in order to prepare them for next year..fine. To borrow many dogs a weekend to win ONAC... nah!
Oh, I know it has been done in the past, Redingtons team won, but not as borrowed( and perhaps even newly but the premier racing kennels o today dont, just dont! And I also do remember Nala who Neal borrowed from Erhart? and later bought! Thats like 10- 12 years ago... Today you still can, of course, but if you cant breed, buy or train the dogs you need for racing..why race?
Why dont just enjoy??

So buying is to invest in the future. To borrow might a way to take a ride you cant or wont afford or care enough to do again.
To lend on the other hand i to invest in the future? But only as long as the user is winning and generous with credits!

Otherwise you might get a sore or injured dog back and a lot of trash gossip goin around..

I have borrowd and lent but I prefer beeing able to say as Rick Swenson said when he was trying to catch Susan in the days..
-Im just running my own dogs!! This not implying Susan isnt, just telling the reporter that HE is running HIS dogs, with all that it means... As simple as that!

And if a dog is to slow for the team hes put in?
Where is the upside for that dog? That team? That musher? And that race?

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356 Posts

Posted - 10/03/2007 :  9:01:18 PM  Show Profile  Visit rhum's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Interesting thought... is using a dog you haven't raised, haven't committed to- except for a race or two- really about what's best for the dog?

Do you suppose dogs really prefer to be passed around, changed environments, changed training and running styles, changed feeding routines, changed handling practices, etc, etc, etc,...

That seems to fly in the face of most of what you read or... really, just down home common sense.

So I guess- borrowing, lending, leasing a dog for a race is really about the MUSHER wanting to better in the race-- let's at least be honest about that. Why the need to hide our own egos behind the dogs well-being? Because, I think, in truth the dogs would be just as happy to free run as to work in harness... the harness, the sled, that's for us. And thank god! Because I love being out there with them and wouldn't trade it for all the world- but I am not going to sit here and claim it's all for the betterment of the dog! It's for me too! I am an important factor in the equation. And I can run them in a humane, safe, way... why not celebrate that, rather than give anti-mushing groups ammo in their campaigns against us by saying silly things like everything we do is just for the dogs, has nothing at all to do with our "egos?"

Borrowing or leasing dogs for a race or two, or even a whole season, is all about US as mushers...and our need to do well in some event we consider to be important... not about the well-being of the dog, that's a little bit of a crazy thought, if you back up and look at it clearly... it's kinda like saying it's really important to a breeding stud to mate a certain female that I have chosen... when in fact every loose male I have ever seen will breed any in-season female in the yard... given the chance. We select breeding for our own needs, we select the dogs in our race teams for our own race goals... we decide all that to meet our needs, not the inherent needs of our dogs.... I think they are pretty happy just getting out and running, eating good food, and living in a good house, and loving kennel. I don't think they care about winning a race... or even for that matter, even entering a race.

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356 Posts

Posted - 10/03/2007 :  9:04:24 PM  Show Profile  Visit rhum's Homepage  Reply with Quote

Do dogs love a musher that has only rented them for a weekend?
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828 Posts

Posted - 10/03/2007 :  10:30:21 PM  Show Profile  Visit sublunar's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by rhum

I think they are pretty happy just getting out and running, eating good food, and living in a good house, and loving kennel. I don't think they care about winning a race... or even for that matter, even entering a race.

Actually, I think a lot of them know when they're racing. I don't know if mine can tell when they win, but they sure like running down other teams.

My dogs would be happy running any weekend. Any musher moving at the right speed. Any trail. If loaned out they don't have to love the musher they're running for. They love running.

A confident dog is an adaptable creature. Learns fast. Takes changes in stride. A great sled dog lives to work. Who its working for, whether for a day, a season, or a lifetime, probably doesn't matter as long as its basic needs are met.

I had some dogs a season ago that I really thought would be better off as distance dogs. Couldn't sell them because the distance people wouldn't look at my hound crosses. So I loaned them out for a season, they ran distance races, did all-right, and when I got them back they were now "experienced distance dogs" and I was able to sell them pretty quick. So they found homes where the work was a better match for their abilities. In which case, being loaned out really was in the best interest of the dog.

When a new dog comes to the kennel, I don't expect it to like me right away. But I expect it to run.
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332 Posts

Posted - 10/04/2007 :  10:15:56 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I agree with Sublunar. Our dogs love to run and there are race weekends which we can't run all of our dogs. I have lent out dogs many times. Quite often they have helped another musher's team improve. I often lend out my older dogs to junior mushers. I have spent years turning some of these dogs into very good leaders and when they get older they don't have the speed to keep up with the main team any more. Do the dogs feel better being "loved" or being run on a race team that weekend? I can tell by their reaction to the situation that they would rather run than sit at home or in the dogs truck all weekend.

Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.
~Cree Indian Proverb
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356 Posts

Posted - 10/04/2007 :  10:16:36 AM  Show Profile  Visit rhum's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I guess my point isn't that dogs can't adapt to being passed around to different teams and mushers... or that on occasion dogs are loaned and it works out better for the dog (though I would guess over 80% of the time they are loaned/leased/rented for a Musher's need to place better in a race... their ego, not the dog's "need")

My point is that we loan/lease/rent mostly for our own benefit and not the well being of the dog. Why not be honest about it. Dogs that are loaned so they can later be sold, are loaned for the benefit of the owner who needs some return on their investment- nothing wrong with that, mushing is about humans and dogs working together... not just human working for dog or simply dog working for human. I mean if it really was just about us "doing" for the dogs then the dog loaned so it could become "experienced" at another type of running, would have just been given to the kennel that could best meet it's needs. But it is not about just us giving to the dogs, we need things in return too. So let's be honest about it so we can have real discussions about real issues that will affect us in the future.

I think that the perceived image of mushing by the general public, in todays world, threatens our lifestyle at least as much as that new sub-division being built across our favorite trails. And the thing is, if we aren't even honest with ourselves about the differences between what we do for the dogs and what we do for our own pleasure with the dogs... then anybody with a desire to, will easily be able to see the hypocrisy in our beliefs and the inconsistencies in our arguments about why running dogs is such a great thing. And then we will always be stuck defending why tethering is humane, why running 120 miles a day is okay, or why shoulder injuries from going a million miles per hour down hill, while not okay, is just a small part of what we do.

Without honesty about what benefits the dogs/what benefits us we will never get through all the noise of trivial conflict and get down to sharing with those people opposed to mushing the feeling of flying down a trail with a perfectly trained and synced-up team, the peace of hearing dogs slurping down food in the middle of the night after a six hour run, or the rewards of hauling home a huge load of firewood on a bitter winter night to warm your family. And sharing those reason for why we love to run our dogs is what will build us respect from people challenging the "goodness" in what we do.
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356 Posts

Posted - 10/04/2007 :  10:23:43 AM  Show Profile  Visit rhum's Homepage  Reply with Quote
After I posted I saw PRT's comment and I totaly agree!

This type of lending benefits all concerned. And is the type of thing we should be celebrating.

Off course, the key word there is Lend, which goes a long way to defining someones motives.
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765 Posts

Posted - 10/04/2007 :  3:21:54 PM  Show Profile  Visit Dori's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Rhum, I'm not sure what kind of dogs you run or if you even run dogs at all, but I think you have a great misconception in the drive that a sled dog has to run. My dogs all like me, they go nuts when I walk into the yard, but that is nothing compared to what happens when they see that it's time to run. At that point they don't care who they are running for they just want to go down the trail. They are gluttons for work.

As for borrowing a dog to improve your team. It is highly unlikely that one dog will improve your team, however it may complete your team so that you can compete in a certain race. Any responsible driver will make sure that the dog they loan or borrow is capable of running in that team and that the driver drives dogs in a similar manner. i.e. a dog that is used to a quiet driver that only speaks when he has something to say may not do as well for someone that is vocal and feels the need to encourage his dogs from start to finish.

Do dogs know when they are racing? You bet they do. Do they know they have different driver? Yes, they know that too. Depending on the dog you may or may not get out of that dog what the trainer does.

I have borrowed dogs and I have loaned dogs. I loan a lot of teams to junior racers that have proven themselves to be good drivers. I have borrowed dogs for the entire season and I have borrowed dogs that I could just plug in. Non of those dogs were up for sale. If I have extra dogs in my truck I would much rather loan them to someone so they can run than just have them sitting in the truck or at home. Is that for the dogs benifit? It sure is. Am I getting anything out of it? Just the satisfaction of knowing all my dogs got to do what they like doing best which is running down the trail pulling a sled.
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46 Posts

Posted - 10/15/2007 :  7:45:22 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
As a past rodeo contestant I have leased, borrowed and trained , many horses that were not mine on most occassions a different horse per weekend although not dogs the point I make is that it helped the owners of the horse $% of winnings, gave the young horse experience and helped a lot of people out,And all benefit from this. And we may compete against one another but would all go out of our way to help the next guy be the best even if it meant second place,now that I have raced (some borrowed) sled dogs, sprint and mid distence I have met many good people out there most willing to help out and give of there experience,time and dogs. I for one would have no problem lending dogs as long as they are treated right . if it were not for the generousity of some sprint and distence musher I might not have been able to run dogs.My hats off to them and i will do the same for the next hoping to get a start,Good day to all.

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