Having attended rallies before owning our first Malamute, we knew it was something we wanted to have a go at.
Working is now an important part of Malamute life for us. We feel it brings a greater understanding and bond between us. You can see the enjoyment they get from doing what they were born to do. Those happy faces and waggy tails say it all.
Our first venture into working was training for and competing at sprint rallies with Breezer and Kia.
Most UK sprint rallies are over 3-4 miles. Not really Malamute distances, but it was great to get out there with the dogs, and they loved it. Breezer and Kia did very well in their first racing season together, being highly placed in many rallies and finishing the season as the joint 3rd top working bitches in the AMCUK Working Malamute Of the Year Awards (W.M.O.Y.A) They also helped Ian to become Rookie Musher of that same year, and were also the highest placed all bitch Malamute team at Aviemore, the largest sled dog race in Europe.
We still enter a handful of rallies each season, as our dogs love the chase and the variedtrails.
We first got into backpacking when Dash was 18 months. A group of friends were going on a trip, so we decided to join in. We had been hiking with the dogs many times before, but this was the first time they carried their own gear. They loved it, especially Dash.
Since then we have completed many backpacking trips. Sometimes day trips, other times trips over 3 days involving wild camping in the mountains. Dash and Breezer have both gained their AMCA (Alaskan Malamute Club of America) WPD (Working Pack Dog) titles by completing a total of 40 miles over 4 trips. Dash also has his WPDA (Working Pack Dog Advanced) title. He completed 80 miles over 3 trips involving one very wet and windy, wild campout in the Lake District. How the tent stayed up we’ll never know! He is the first Malamute to be awarded this title, not just in the UK, but worldwide.
After 3 gruelling 40 mile trips, one in the High Street mountain range in the Lake District, and two in the Cairngorm National Park in Scotland, the 120 miles required for Dash’s excellence title were completed.
We have found backpacking to be both an exhilarating and rewarding experience. The sense of achievement is immense. It’s helped strengthen the bond between us and the dogs.
Weight pulling was something we had never tried with Breezer or Kia. There were very few events, so the opportunities were limited. In 2008, the first AMCUK championships were organised. It was an ideal time to give it a go. Breezer and Kia did not take well to it, unless of course you were holding a nice juicy steak. Dash on the other hand showed great promise. He had a good natural technique and the willing. He steadily improved as the season went on, we were always mindful not to let him push himself too hard too soon, and always end on a positive pull. It paid off and by the end of season he was pulling 2300lbs (until March 2011, a UK record), and finished the Championship in 2nd place in the over 100lbs class.
The 2009/2010 season was a bit up and down, but Dash managed to pull a seasons best of 2100lbs in the final pull, that also secured him first place in the Championship for the over 100lbs class..
The 2010/2011 season got off to a good start, but Dash sustained a shoulder injury that meant training and competing was put on hold until he was fully recovereed. However he finished the season on a high, winning the Amaqqut Trophy for finishing the season in first place for the over 100lbs class. He also brought home the Arcticdawns Salver for the second time, which is awarded for the most weight pulled. This was for a pull of 2400lbs, which reamins his personal best.
Dash has gained his AMCA WWPD (Working Weight Pull Dog) title by pulling over 12 times his body weight on 4 separate occasions, and his WWPDX (Working Weight Pull Dog Excellence) title by pulling over 19 times his bodyweight, on 5 separate occasions.
Dash also seems to have passed on his “pulling genes” to his offspring. His daughters are doing very well, and have already gained WWPDX and WWPD titles.
Being able to run the dogs over longer distances has always been difficult in this country due to lack of suitable venues. Thanks to the hard work of some dedicated people, more venues are now becoming available. We now have the opportunity to run our dogs over 10 miles or more.
Our dogs prefer theses longer distance ‘treks’ to the shorter sprint rallies. They get into that nice gaiting pace of 7-8mph and go all day. They love to work in bigger teams to. They have run in teams of 6 that have included friend’s dogs and Dash’s daughters. Sometimes the team has consisted of dogs from 3 different households. That is a real testament to the excellent temperament of the dogs.
All of our dogs have gained their AMCA WTD (Working Team Dog) titles by completing 4 separate trips of over 10 miles.
We enjoy full day excursions on our "sledding" holidays in Sweden