It is hard to describe the "zone" that a sled dog enters when they are running - in a sense, they are utterly encompassed by the desire to pull. Nothing else matters. Sometimes, this is hard to see, especially when you are standing on the side line, watching a team zoom by at break neck speeds.
However, in this following video, you can watch Hummer (a 3 year old from the car litter) run on a treadmill. You will see that he is fully engrossed in his "job". This was only his third time ever on the apparatus. He was a little nervous at first, wondering why "the Boss" was standing right at his side and a noisy fan was blowing in his face.
But, when asked "Ready?" Hummer tightened his tug line and started to pull forward as the belt went under his feet. The speed immediately jumped to 7 1/2 miles per hour (a slow, but comfortable pace). You will see that he looks around just a little at his circumstance. But, in less than a minute, his eyes glazed over, his natural instinct kicked in, and he lopes on the treadmill with out a care in the world. Amazing!
The Treadmill is owned by Oklahoma State University. It is housed in Denali, about a 3 hour drive south from SP Kennel. Dr. Michael Davis, a professor and director at the Comparative Exercise Physiology Laboratory at the University, has done amazing research in Equine Sports Medicine. He now has several labs in Alaska that are geared towards examining the "finest athlete in the world", the Alaskan sled dog.
We are involved with several physiology studies this year. Most of the research will be done either before or after the busiest time of the racing season. However, we fully expect to truck the dogs down to the Treadmill to "practice" several times this winter. It is amazing to watch how cooperative and enthusiastic the SP Kennel dogs are as research subjects.