Gateway Sled Dog Club, St. Louis, Missouri
What is a sled dog?
For many, the term "Sled Dog" brings to mind the vision of a beautiful team of Alaskan Malamutes or Siberian Huskies, pulling their sled through the snow as the "musher" calls out commands to the valiant lead dog.
While it is true that those breeds are the ones traditionally thought of as sled dogs, it is equally true that many other diverse breeds of dogs have been used throughout history as both pack and sled dogs. Newfoundlands, Norwegian Elkhounds, Akitas, Samoyeds, and many breed combinations or "mixes" have also been utilizes as draft animals and for transportation.
What makes a dog a sled dog is not his particular breed, but his training. With the proper training, almost any dog can learn to pull a cart or sled, and have fun at the same time. If your dog is in good physical condition, is willing to work, and if you are a kind, consistent, and patient trainer, you, too, can have a sled dog.
The Gateway Sled Dog Club
The club promotes the safe and humane training of dogs for sledding, backpacking, and other types of pulling.
The club began in 1987 when a small group of dog owners, interested in working their dogs, decided that it would be fun to meet on a regular basis to train, share techniques and ideas, and socialize.
Today, the Gateway Sled Dog Club has over 25 families, mostly residents of the St. Louis metropolitan area. There are many breeds represented among the membership, including Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, Alaskan Huskies, Mastiffs, Swiss Mountain Dog, German Shepherd, Australian Shepherd, and Terriers. Mixed breeds are also welcome to participate.
The Gateway Sled Dog Club is a very active organization. During the winters months there is something almost any weekend in which members may participate if they choose.
Beginning in October and lasting through March (or the onset of warm weather) there are regularly scheduled training sessions. Training together allows dogs to become accustomed to working with and around other members' dogs. It also provides members an opportunity to exchange training tips and compare and evaluate various types of sled dog equipment.
A Sled dog race is held each winter. Wheeled carts are used when there is no snow. Distances vary from one to two miles. Some short 100-yd and 300-yd sprint races are also held.
Weight pull competitions are also part of the winter schedule. Dogs compete to see which ones can pull the most weight on a wheeled cart.
Club members may also participate in backpacking trips. Owners and dogs (wearing backpacks) hike several miles at a designated location followed by a lunch and some relaxation.
The Gateway Sled Dog Club members are also active in community service through out the St. Louis area. Each year members are available to put on many demonstrations for schools, scout groups and other organizations, as well as various local pet fairs. Along with an explanation of how sled dogs are trained, demonstrations offer instruction in responsible pet ownership and proper pet care.
Another facet of the club is raising money for local dog-related charities and humane societies. Over the years, over $10,000 has been donated to various worthwhile organizations, a direct result of club charity fund-raisers.
Parades are another fun activity for club members. Dogs may pull decorated carts or sleds on wheels, or members walk with dogs that are wearing colorful harnesses or backpacks. The club has enjoyed participating in many well-known parades in the St. Louis metropolitan area.
Members' dogs may earn club titles based on points accumulated by participation in various club activities.
To Become a Member
You do not have to have a whole team of dogs to join the Gateway Sled Dog Club. In fact, you will find plenty of fun things to do even if you have only one dog! The Membership Committee will be happy to provide you with an application and explain the requirements for membership.
For information on meeting dates, time and location, or for answers to any other questions you may have about the club, visit our website at: http://www.gatewaysleddogclub.com.
Or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org