Lead Dog

Filed under: Uncategorized — iditalearn2010 @ 10:45 am

IditaLEARN!Well, here’s the tough part…the BIG QUESTION.

What’s it take to be a leader, the one out front, the one who makes all the decisions? What’s it like to lead your group through some of the most demanding wilderness on earth in conditions most living things would avoid? What’s it like to know you team would follow you anywhere?


All because they trust you.

For the big answers, you’ll need to read Gary Paulsen’s essay about The Lead on March 8th — it may surprise you to know.

In the meantime, see what you can figure-out!
Musher Interviews–the 3rd question down is about lead dogs.


by Gary Paulsen
It’s hard to believe and understand how important the lead dog is to the team and the musher and there have been many attempts to find comparison: the lead dog is your best friend, your brother (or sister), your child…even your parent. The bond is so close that often a good lead dog almost doesn’t need a command, seems to know, just know, what the person on the sled wants to do and does it.

Think of this: A good lead dog, alone, decides the speed of the team, where the team will run, how the team will run, whether or not caution is needed because of bad trail or (worse) bad ice, handles the sometimes mess of passing other teams, and problems that might occur during the run (like angry moose, other dog teams getting tangled, the drag of deep snow), knows to pick up the speed up a hill and to move slowly going down, knows to swing wide enough on tight turns so the following dogs don’t hit trail-side obstacles, understands that when a driver gives the wrong command (like says “gee” when he means “haw”) he really doesn’t mean it….

And does all of this Out There, nearly a third of a football field in front of the driver, often around a blind corner, alone, in the dark.

Truly amazing.

They say of a good lead dog that it is a dog smart enough to do it and foolish enough to want to do it anyway and there is some truth in that, but whatever the reason they run, the engine, the force that drives a lead dog is certainly love and the bond between the leader and the person on the sled.

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