Earlier this week saw over 1,000 sled dogs gather together for a sled dog race at Aviemore. The dogs will be competing in a race this weekend, called the Highland rally. The race is held every year and is regularly watched by over 3,000 people, bringing as much as £400,000 in revenue for the area.
The sled dog race is for dog teams of between 2 and 8 dogs, and they achieve speeds of 20mph. The dog handlers cover a wide age range, from as young as 8 years old to as old as 60.
When the race was first held back in 1984, just 12 teams took part. This weekend over 250 teams are expected to race their dogs. One of the most common dogs participating in the race is the Siberian Huskey.
Sarah Robinson, part of the organisation team, stated:
If we have ideal conditions there will be plenty of snow for teams to pull their driver – called the musher – around the course on a sled. If not, the musher will use a three-wheeled rig that looks a bit like a tricycle without a seat. Both dogs and musher have to be fit and many teams train all year round for this race.
The health and safety of the dogs is our top priority and temperature and humidity are closely monitored to make sure the conditions are right for the dogs and their owners to have maximum fun during the event. We also have a vet on standby during the racing.
As well as being a great spectacle and a fun event for dog lovers and dog breeders, the dog sled race is a great boost for the local economy, as businessman Jonathan Gatenby states:
This longstanding event has become a highlight of the winter season and it is a great spectacle for the visitors to the area.
The event is a welcome boost to the local economy at a generally quiet time of the year. It has been calculated that the rally brings in more than £400,000 to local shops, restaurants and hotels.
The ideal thing is that come snow or shine, the huskies run, which in view of the erratic nature of the skiing season makes it a very important event.