Wednesday morning, we packed up our supplies to head back to our cabin. As we were talking to Vic, Alex asked about suggestions of where to see dog sledding (we know there is no snow). Perfect timing! His neighbor and friend owns "Dream a Dream Dog Farm", and does tours and talks about the Iditarod. Vic's wife was going to be there with some family and Vern, the owner, invited volunteers to come along. Attending would delay our return to the cabin by several hours, but sounded well worth it... and it was! The tour began with a great video followed by a great presentation about the Iditarod, training, the dogs, and the gear. Vern has finished the Iditarod in the top 5 three times and top 10 eight times, so he has a wealth of knowledge to share.
Next, we went on a puppy hike around the property's trails with a litter of 12 week old puppies. They were very eager to run with us and play fetch with sticks through the woods.
After the hike, we walked around and met the sled dogs, all 50 or so of them. The dogs are arranged into A-Team through B & C Teams with the best leading dogs closet to the front where all the people see and pet them first. The arrangement helps train all of the dogs to try to earn those prized lead spots. When a sled dog retires, it gets "the run of the place" and though it still has its designated house, it gets to wander around the yard and hangout wherever it chooses, sometimes even taking treats from the other dogs. All the sled dogs were super friendly and lovable!
Next, we got ready for a summer "sledding" run. The dogs were very excited when they saw the harnesses come out, all having that "Pick Me, Pick Me" demeanor. Vern picked 14 various dogs who had not been out for a run yet that day. A "summer" run involved the dogs harnessed up "pulling" an ATV. There excitement level and desire to pull and work together was incredible. We rode in a van to the 1/2 way point of their short trail, where the groups would switch and we would get on the ATV. We jumped in to help give the dogs their water dishes, since this was also a break for them.
Our trail took us through deep water which caused some mechanical difficulties, which the dogs wanted to ignore and pull through :-) When we arrived back at the farm, we also jumped in to help give more water and chunks of frozen salmon to each of the dogs.
We played with the sled dogs for a while before heading to the pen of 5 week old puppies. These lil guys would be joining an Iditarod pack for a musher who was training with Vern.
Dream a Dream Dog Farm was a great place to visit. The presentation and tour were amazing, and the huskies were very well taken care of and loved. It was already 4:30 PM when we left to head back to the station, we still needed to get dropped off at the canoe trailhead and paddle about 3 hours to our cabin...but the late start was worth it!