|Alaskan huskies pull a sled down 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage during the 2013 Fur Rendezvous.|
Dog mushing became the official state sport in 1972 and the was recognized in April 2010 as the official state dog.
Alaskans have used dogs to pull sleds for centuries. It was once the primary transportation in Alaska and today it is a worldwide sport for both professional competition and recreation. People from around the world participate in Alaska's annual Iditarod sled dog race, "The last great race."
The Iditarod race began as a heroic rescue to deliver medicine to the Alaska Native children of the town of Nome, who were sick with diphtheria. The 20 pound cylinder of serum was shipped by train 298 miles from Seward to Nenana and then relayed 647 miles by dog teams to Nome. The last leg to Nome was run by a team led by the siberian husky Balto, who became an international hero.
Dog Mushing Terms:
Mush: Originated from the French word "marchez" which means "go." French stampeders brought the word to Alaska but it is considered too soft a sound to be used as a command and is usually replaced with "hike!"
Gee: Turn right
Haw: Turn left
Easy: Slow down
Musher: Person who drives sled dogs
Mushing: The act of driving sled dogs
Lead dog: Dog that steers the sled dog team and regulates speed
Wheel dog: Dogs closest to the sled
Sled: Wooden rig the dogs pull in the snow and on which the musher stands
Snowless rigs: Also called training carts, these four-wheelers or off-roaders take the place of the sled when there is no snow.