All photos by Chrissie Bodznick
BraverMountain Mushing is a long-distance dogsled team based in Northern Wisconsin.
We aim to provide a window into a mysterious sport, sharing our triumphs and difficulties with fans of the team. Our priority will always be happy, healthy dogs doing what they love
We document the team on Twitter
To join the team's adventures, follow Blair and Quince on Twitter.
What kind of dogs do you have?
Our dogs are Alaskan huskies, which is a nice way of saying that they're Working Mutts of the North.
What if a dog doesn't want to run?
Have you ever seen a lab chase a tennis ball, absolutely bouncing with excitement before each throw? That's the kind of excitement that sled dogs bring to running -- which is why we love this sport. We get to work with dogs who are doing what they enjoy most.
Sled dogs are naturally drawn to a certain pace: some pups will prefer running all-out for a short distance, while others are happy to trot steadily for many hours at a time. If a dog loves to run and pull but settles into a different pace or lifestyle from the rest of the team, we will place that dog in an appropriate mushing home.
If, on occasion, a dog seems like they would prefer couch life to trail life, or has a health condition that prevents them from running, we will place that dog in an appropriate, active pet home. Here's a story about one of our dogs who didn't want to pull sleds.
How do your dogs stay warm?
When the dogs are running, they generate a ton of heat, and our priority is keeping them from getting too warm. In the winter, when they're not running, they live in insulated dog houses with soft straw bedding, and will rest in coats and blankets when they're camping or racing.
Much like wolves and coyotes, sled dogs grow thick, double-layered coats in the winter. It's very important that they not spend too much time in heated houses during that time, because the artificial heat can cause them to shed their own natural insulation. They need that fur! So, while they'll often pay visits to the house in the spring and summer, fall and winter are an important time for growing fur.
Where can I learn more about specific dogs?
We're working on a website with dog intros, but in the meantime, you can read this twitter thread. You an also check out our fan-made wiki, Wicksypedia, which is named after our yearling, Wickson.
What happens when dogs retire?
Our dogs typically retire from racing between 8 and 11 years old. There's no specific retirement age, because huskies are opinionated and each one is unique, so they're very good at announcing their intentions.
When they retire, they either stay with the team and supervise the puppies and yearlings (which is sort of like sending the kids to grandma's house), join a recreational team for that half-pet / half-sled-dog life, or retire to be a pet completely. It really depends on each dog's personality and where we think they will thrive best.
Why is transparency so important to you?
We want to represent ethical, joyful mushing, and we believe that any sport or activity involving animals should strive for transparency and accountability.
Can I sponsor a specific dog?
Yes! You can sponsor the team through patreon.com/bravermountain.
Who are the ugly dogs? I don't think your dogs are ugly.
The #uglydogs are human fans of the team. They are the salt of the earth.
BraverMountain Mushing was formed by Blair and Quince, but quickly became a community endeavor. With the help of our friends and sponsors, we are working toward qualifying for Iditarod 2019.
We are always invested in our small town, whether that means giving rides to schoolchildren, participating in public events, or supporting the local trail system.
BraverMountain Mushing consists of 21 Alaskan Huskies, ranging from two to nine years old. Check back soon to meet more of the dogs!
Email: Twitter: @blairbraverman Instagram: @mountain_dogs_racing