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Hi! My name is Conor Maguire. I live in Dublin (Ireland) and I want to tell you about my Alaskan Malamutes. Since first reading Jack London's "The call of the wild" when I was 10 or 11 years old, I've been fascinated by everthing outdoor and dog related. (NOTE: Conor can be contacted at IronMountain-Malamutes@hotmail.com ) So, if you wouldn't know an Alaskan Malamute from a Siberian Husky if it drooled all over your face, read on...

... and my dogs

Their names are Kodi and Buck. Kodi is the ‘lead dog’ and is three years old. Buck is a one year old and is learning his commands very fast. Both dogs are very strong and robust, but Kodi is more solid than Buck. Maybe Buck will grow into his skin and fill out as he gets older, but already he is very strong and very fast (for a Malamute). Mals are generally used for their strength and endurance, rather than speed. If you want speed get a Siberian husky ...

COMMANDS: when giving a command to a dog it is essential to be consistent and relatively firm. The dog wants to be told what to do, not asked. The following are the traditional instructions for sled dogs and they seem to work fine:

Left turn is ‘go haw’; right turn is ‘go gee’; straight on is ‘go along’; and most importantly to get them to run I say ‘let’s go’ and to stop them I say ‘whoa’.

The only people who say "mush!" are the folks who roar it at me as I pass them on the streets. They get a great laugh at this ... and I pretend it's the first time I've heard it...! Although dog-sledders are referred to as 'mushers', we never use the word as a command. The word itself is an anglicization of the French word 'marche', which the French trappers once used.

01 September 2008

Then there was three....

'Whisper', a 14-month old female join the team in early September and settled in immediately. She is much smaller than Kodi and Buck but, hopefully, she will have as much enthusiasm for running in harness. She already makes herself very much at home in the team. Her and Buck are like puppies... chasing and playing together! This is her first time in a proper harness. She's got the right idea.

View from the 3-wheel sled. Taken on a phone camera, so a little shook up. They say that unless you are the lead dog, the view never changes!

Just for info, the video does not show all the other people and dogs using the beach, so the instructions to the dogs are given to direct them past or around other users. 'Gee by' means to pass an object on the right hand side. 'Walk by' and / or 'Go along' means to ignore something (a turning or another person or dog) and just keep on running in the same direction.

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