How do sled dogs eat during a long-distance race? Quickly.
When time is of the essence — as it is during sled dog races such as the Iditarod, Yukon Quest, and Hudson Bay Quest — every action must be completed with as much efficiency as possible. That extends to mealtimes for the dogs.
Musher Dave Daley of Wapusk Adventures in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada, recently described for me how learning to speed-eat starts when the racing dogs are puppies. During a race, the animals need to consume a sufficient amount of calories to be able to keep warm while running and resting. Picky eaters tend to become pickier when out on the trail or when the weather turns colder. Mushers, therefore, try to impart good eating habits from the start and desire dogs that eat with enthusiasm all the time, regardless of conditions. If you listen closely while watching the video below, you’ll hear Dave explain how there’s no time for fighting or barking over food once you’re on the trail. And these puppies have taken that lesson to heart.
As for the “spinning puppy wheel,” there hasn’t been a definitive explanation for that as of yet!
Thanks to Travis Andrews, for taking this footage at Wapusk Adventures in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada, on October 19, 2012, as part of a NatHab Churchill Polar Bear Adventure.