New York Times covers Mammoth Dog Teams and drought

nytdogsledThe drought hurt lots of businesses this winter but none so graphic as Mammoth Dog Teams where owner Jim Ouimet and his sled dogs took no runs at all this year of very little snow. The New York Times took an in-depth look with an article that ran April 4th.

Writer Dan Krauss visited Ouimet and said the effects of the drought have “left Jim Ouimet and his 35 dogs nearly out of work.” In fact the lasts sled-dog tour for Ouimet happened in March of last year. On top of no snow, according to the Times, Ouimet’s well at his kennel went dry. He has had to drive into Mammoth from his headquarters five miles outside of town to fill up big water containers for his dogs.

According to the Times article, Ouimet spends about $10,000 per year to feed the dogs. Loans from friends and relatives have helped. For Ouimet, the dogs are his life. As the New York Times article describes, Ouimet was born in Mammoth Lakes and came home in the 80s after more than four years in the Marines.

Ouimet learned the craft of mushing from Paul Marvelly of Dog Sled Adventures. Ouimet took over the business in 1999 and renamed his company Mammoth Dog Teams.

Instead of the five runs a day during a busy season, this winter has meant no work at all for the dog teams and Ouimet. In fact, the past three seasons have been rough for sled-dog runs. Like so many others, Ouimet prays for the heavy snow to return.


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35 Responses to New York Times covers Mammoth Dog Teams and drought

  1. MJA April 9, 2014 at 5:47 am #

    Have you seen the dogs chained to there boxes in the sun and heat all summer long on Mono County leased land? Have you seen the slave dogs. =

  2. Really April 9, 2014 at 7:12 am #

    Maybe it’s time to set the dogs Free. I have seen them on many occasions chained up all day out in the heat. These poor souls deserve better. Maybe Mr. Quiment needs to find them a better home and get a more Humane job.

    • GW April 9, 2014 at 9:00 am #

      Here we go again with the bitching about dogs that are bred to run, have a very social life and are better cared for than many dogs!
      If genuinely concerned, how many dogs have you rescued? If none, then your just hypocrits with too much time on your hands.
      Kind of like griping about the worlds oil consumption and then driving their car to the save the planet rally!

      • Grrrrrr April 9, 2014 at 10:54 am #

        Dogs that are bred to run NEED to run and not be tied up for months and months waiting for enough snow.

      • Dog Lover April 9, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

        The hypocrite is actually Mono County Animal Control. And I don’t complain about the Worlds oil consumption, global warming, or climate change.

        Enforce the law, or change the law.

      • Desert Tortoise April 9, 2014 at 12:34 pm #

        No one is finding these dogs in a drain pipe, badly injured after falling out of some idiot’s pickem-up truck.

        Btw BK, any word on the pit bull mix service dog that jumped out of the dog walkers SUV when the door was opened?

        • Benett Kessler April 9, 2014 at 2:06 pm #

          One more siting, but nothing yet.

          • Ken Warner April 9, 2014 at 3:42 pm #

            The word is “sighting”

          • Desert Tortoise April 9, 2014 at 7:59 pm #

            Sigh. At least he is still alive. Please keep us posted on the search for this doggie. Some of us think about him out there alone in the woods with a leash dragging behind him and all the dangers inherent.

  3. Dog Lover April 9, 2014 at 8:37 am #

    California 2006
    Health and Safety Code, Division 105, Part 6
    Chapter 8. Dog Tethering
    (b) No person shall tether, fasten, chain, tie, or restrain a dog, or cause a dog to be tethered, fastened, chained, tied, or restrained, to a dog house, tree, fence, or any other stationary object.

    Benett at one point in the past I believe you mentioned Mr. Quiment was going to get an exception to the Dog Tethering law. Did this ever happen? Not that it would make life any easier for the abused dogs.

    • Trouble April 9, 2014 at 7:42 pm #

      Benett, is dog lover correct about this law? I have seen so many dogs tied and chained in the valley it’s amazing to hear it’s unlawful.

      • Wayne Deja April 10, 2014 at 7:33 am #

        Trouble….Here’s what to do…at least in my town in Inyo County..if you see a dog tied up in a yard,and especially if it’s tangled and away from it’s water and food….report it to Animal Control…and continue to do so untill the problem is rectified…..been there,done that…more than a few times…we have an Animal Control Officer in Lone Pine (B.J.) that is an animal lover too,and takes care of business rather quickly.

  4. Desert Tortoise April 9, 2014 at 10:40 am #

    I adore huskies and have two wonderful ones myself, a female a neighbor gave me after she was unable to breed her further, and a gorgeous male I found late last January walking the mean streets of Lancaster. “Knucklebrain”, aka Gunnar, was probably abandoned by a breeder with too many males as my boy has less than perfect markings and coat. Mine are as spoiled as any dog can be with all day acess to the kitchen, where there is a big water dispenser, and a big tub of water outside the can splash in under my oversized covered patio. They have the run of the back yard, but they are energetic diggers and can chew through a wooden fence board in a few minutes. The breed are well known escape artists, so I had to resort to block walls and steel gates around my yard. They are only tethered if I take them out to the front yard. If you don’t they will take off running and you will never see them again. The breed has no homing instinct. I don’t want to loose my kids but I like to have them out front with me when I am doing things in the garage or working on a car in the driveway (under a steel carport for shade).

    But in the places Huskies were bred, they are a working animal like a horse or a camel, but adapted to their environment. Working huskies live their lives outdoors, often in weather that would kill an unprotected human in minutes.
    They will pull a sled all day and are chained to the ice at night, separated so they cannot fight with each other. In villiages or at miliary units that still use huskies, such as the Danish special forces unit Sirius that patrols Greenland, dogs are kept chained to their dog houses just as you see in the photo accompanying this article, separated so that dogs cannot fight with each other. This is the standard way of kenneling working huskies. These dogs are not pets, they are beasts of burden bred to pull sleds in temps down to minus forty farenheit. They live their lives outdoors and know nothing different. Even though i would never treat my own two “kids” that way it is not necessarily cruel to do so. This is how they were bred many centuries ago.

  5. Dog Lover April 9, 2014 at 12:08 pm #

    I don’t like how Mono County picks and chooses which laws they will enforce and which ones they won’t.

    Animal Control needs to enforce the law or have the law changed.

    Those dogs have matted fur and look like they’ve never had a bath. My rescued dogs get bathed and walked regularly.

    I have to laugh that all this takes place on County owned land. Actually it’s sickening.

  6. Tinner April 9, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

    No doubt these dogs love to pull anybody who thinks different has no idea what they are talking about.
    Paul Marvelly saw drought years, he didn’t let that stop him. He decided to offer visitors golf cart rides on the golf carts he bought from Bishop Country Club. He had originally acquired the carts to run the dogs in the fall on dirt roads around the old kennel site in order to prepare them for the winter season.The carts may have even been given to him. People were always giving things to Paul and if something wasn’t given to him it was traded for a dog sled ride. I think those people (locals) felt like they were a small part of the kennel or they were doing something for the dogs and that was better than money. During the Paul Marvelly era I frequented the kennel often, always taking friends and family when they visited town, winter or summer. I don’t do that anymore because I don’t like the way the dogs are living anymore, its very difficult to see them in the condition they are in. I know there are others who feel the same way. They don’t visit and they don’t trade. I don’t like the way the NYT is making Jim out to be a victim of the drought when he could being doing so much more for the dogs, drought or no drought. I don’t believe Jim is capable of caring for the dogs they way they need to be cared for.
    In the NYT article Jim’s quotes sound a lot like what I’ve heard from animal hoarders while watching Animal Planet. I don’t like saying these things but I love the sled dogs and ALL dogs way too dang much to sit silent and know these dogs are not being taken care of like they should be. Those dogs deserve better and if something isn’t done soon I can almost guarantee a sad ending for the dogs and Jim.

    • Benett Kessler April 9, 2014 at 2:06 pm #

      FYI – Jim Ouimet says he will gladly talk directly to anyone who would like to come out and speak with him about his operation and his dogs.

      • Dog Lover April 9, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

        I would like to hear from Animal Control on how the apply the California tethered leash law in California. I’m guessing it’s completely discretionary which is complete bs.

      • go back to sleep April 9, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

        No thanks Benett, it’s much easier to sit behind my computer and spew negativity and complain…

        Just like “Dog Lover Deja”. aka: “King Complainer”

      • Ken Warner April 9, 2014 at 8:30 pm #

        I did talk to Jim once about two years ago. He loves his dogs.

  7. GW April 9, 2014 at 1:59 pm #

    Well written response DT, you told the true Husky story far better than I did.
    The sad reality in dealing with PC extremists is they likely didn’t even read your post before disliking it! They throw out their complaints and demands and then scurry for cover when a reasonable sound alternative position is presented to them.

    Leave the huskies alone, they are happier there than in your backyard!

    • Desert Tortoise April 10, 2014 at 7:30 am #

      You’re probably right. I always feel like a bad dad going to work and leaving my kids home alone with each other in that yard. This is how I think, if I stay in the home I own now I am giving serious thought to building a nice sturdy steel security fence in front of my house from the garage over to the property line, build it on a concrete foundation with solid gate that will be for all intents my new front door complete with door bell so my kids can hang out in front of the house and watch the world pass by, see the clouds, the bunnies, the neighbors rottie, the other neighbors cats, etc.. i wish I had enough property to give them a big huge yard to run in but the economics of that don’t work out for us yet.

      • Desert Tortoise April 10, 2014 at 4:16 pm #

        Wow. A thumbs down. Rough crowd here 😮

  8. Fact Checker April 9, 2014 at 3:57 pm #

    I don’t get the Sled Dog bashing.
    I don’t get bashing horses and mules either.
    These activities built the Eastern Sierra.
    They are tradition in Mono County and our history.
    The NYTimes article is about drought in California.
    You have to honor the tradition that Mr Ouimet is holding up.
    His dogs are well cared for.
    How many hours can you spend with your dog a day?
    He spends his entire life with the dogs.
    Go down there and help him for a day if you are so concerned.
    He probably needs help carrying in the 60 gallons of water he has to haul in everyday from town to hydrate his dogs.
    Please think before you sit at your keyboard and spew your ignorance about working dogs, hoarders and Health and Safety Codes on the screen.
    Mono County’s entry signs North and South proclaim “Where we Honor Veterans”.
    If you don’t honor Mr Ouimet who is a retired Marine and his dogs, you don’t honor yourself.

    • MJA April 9, 2014 at 9:38 pm #

      “Honor the tradition”?
      I’m sure they said the same thing in the South during the Civil War.
      I think the time has come to unchain the dogs and let freedom ring! =

      • Desert Tortoise April 10, 2014 at 9:01 am #

        If you unchain them and let them run loose in the property there will be bloody fights and injuries that require expensive emergency treatment. Dogs tear off ears and chew legs to the bone in fights if you don’t get in there and break them up, which in practice means wading right into the fight, picking dogs up by the scruff of the neck and throwing them out of the fight. You can pick up and heave a forty five pound dog if you have to. They will even fight when you are trying to mush them. These are not lap dogs. They are not pets. They are domesticated working animals. They won’t necessarily survive in the wild (my two kids walked right past two bunnies yesterday on our walk and didn’t even notice them) and you wouldn’t want a pack of feral huskies or any pack of wild dogs loose in your area.

        Think about what you are writing.

  9. John youngster April 10, 2014 at 8:05 pm #

    I’m embarrassed to be an eastern Sierran reading some of these comments. Instead of supporting a struggling businessman in our community he is harassed about tethering his dogs. Tethering in regards to a working sled dogs is standard practice. Period. If there was a better way mushers would be doing it. It sounds more like someone’s ego agenda and need to be right than a concern for the dogs at mammoth dog teams. How can anyone judge Jim or comment on how he should or should not be doing it without first visiting and learning about this unique breed and fhe beautiful tradition of man working with dogs? If you did you would probably see that it is Jim who is on the chain. Consider having all those dogs that depend on YOU alone. I think Pual M. Probably breathed a sigh of relief when Jim took over his business.

  10. Facts Over Emotion April 10, 2014 at 8:58 pm #

    I am bemused that a story about a local business suffering from the drought quickly devolved into Dog Lover’s long standing feud with Jim Ouiment and his dogs. Jim’s working dogs are very well taken care of, strongly loved, and housed in the centuries long proven method. The ignorant suggestion that the dogs should be housed in plastic Igloos would be laughable, if not for how dangerous this is when given a moment of thought. The Igloo houses do not shield the dog from all types of weather like their nice wooden houses. What is your home made of, wood or thin plastic? How long do you think those plastic Igloos would last before they were converted into plastic shards stuck in the dog’s intestines? I assure you, not long. You have to remember that Huskies and Malamutes have been breed for over 30,000 years for this one purpose, to be sled dogs. Can a labrador retreiver stop retreiving? Of course not, it is fulfilling its purpose when retreiving. While it is deeply instilled in the lab’s DNA to retrieve, the breed is only about 200 years old. Imagine how much stronger the sled dog’s instincts. Animal behavior is largely determined by their breeding and purpose in nature and sled dogs are closer to their wolf ancestors than your domesticated pet dogs. When sled dogs are released into pens together for exercise, by nature and just like when two wolf packs meet, a war quickly breaks out.
    Mr. Ouimet is following the best traditions of dog mushing. Those traditions were established over 30,000 years ago in Mongolia. These traditions have been tried, proven, and honed since the days when dog sleds were used in hunts for wooly Mammoths. Unlike the newer breeds of dogs, sled dogs and their way of being housed and raised have evolved together for 30-35 centuries. He does what he does out of love and because that is what works with these working dogs.
    For eight years now, Mr. Ouimet has been fighting political battlesto which no other business would ever be subjected. Battles with Mammoth Mountain, Mono County, and uninformed animal advocates. As a small business owner who does not depend on hand-outs as part of his business plan, he deserves more help and respect than what he has received. He has barely been able to do any work over the last three years, yet he is there every day feeding his dogs, at the cost of roughly $10,000 a year. He is also there tirelessly watering the dogs, picking up after the dogs, taking care of all aspects of the dogs needs. For Mr. Ouimet, it is all about the dogs and he is their Alpha Male. It is some of the people he has to deal with that act like rabid animals.
    Dog Lover, if you are truely someone who can say, “I Care” for dogs you would do well to open your eyes and open your heart to Jim and his dogs and spend some time with them and see how well those working dogs are treated. Jim spends 24/7 caring for his dogs, not criticising others. What positive, kind appoaches have you made towards Mr. Ouimet and his dogs? Spend a few days out there with him and his dogs and you will have a new educated respect for his methods. Until then, your arrogant, ignorant rants about tethering laws make you sound more than a little “Schade”.

  11. Dog Lover April 11, 2014 at 6:51 am #

    My long standing beef would actually be with Mono County Animal Control. The State law does not say anything about leaving enforcement of the tethered dog law up to the discretion of Mono County Animal Control. When Benett was asked by Trouble if I was correct about the law she failed to follow up with a reply.

    To allow our State laws to be randomly applied at the discretion of some lowly animal control officer is wrong. It is time for Mono County to set the record straight.

  12. MtnHiker April 11, 2014 at 7:03 am #

    I’m a little less concerned with the tethering of these dogs, than their exposure to how very hot it can get at that location in the summer for those thick coated dogs. It appears there is only a small patch of shade for each of them in the shadow of their dog houses. And maybe no shade at all during the middle of the day.

  13. Desert Tortoise April 11, 2014 at 7:46 am #

    They’re well cared for. The only thing those kids need is snow! They are never happier than when they are up to their chests in the white stuff. Sadly we can’t do anything about that, but quit picking on the man and his dogs.

  14. MJA April 11, 2014 at 8:13 am #

    We don’t need slave dogs chained to boxes for their eternity anymore. We have snowmobiles, and snow cats, and skis and snow shoes now and our own two feet. Perhaps the struggles the dog sled operator is having is for a reason, the reason being right.

    People still trap and sport kill animals too, right here in Mono County?

    Tradition life and freedom.


  15. Facts Over Emotion April 11, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

    Dog Lover, here are some more real laws that are going largely unpunished. Knock yourself out. Or is it really about Jim?

    In California, it is illegal to posses bear gall bladders.
    In California, it is illegal to trip horses for entertainment.
    In Blythe, California, a person must own two cows in order to legally wear cowboy boots in public.
    In Los Angeles, a man is legally entitled to beat his wife with a leather belt or strap, but the belt can’t be wider than 2 inches, unless he has his wife’s consent to beat her with a wider strap. (Loony Laws” by Robert Pelton)
    It is illegal to set a mousetrap without a hunting license.
    Community leaders passed an ordinance that makes it illegal for anyone to try and stop a child from playfully jumping over puddles of water.
    In L.A. it is against the law to complain through the mail that a hotel has cockroaches, even if it is true.
    It is illegal to drive more than two thousand sheep down Hollywood Blvd. at one time.
    It is illegal to whistle for a lost canary before 7 am in Berkeley, CA.
    San Francisco is said to be the only city in the nation to have ordinances guaranteeing sunshine to the masses.
    In Cupertino, California, it is illegal to count backwards audibly in hexadecimal.
    The good burghers of Redwood City have outlawed the frying of gravy.
    In Santa Clara, it is forbidden to dedicate parking spaces to the patron saint of television.
    Prostitutes in San Francisco are not obliged to make change for bills larger than $50.
    The city of Mountain View proscribes calling pet fish by “names of aggressive content, e.g. ‘Biter’, ‘Killer’, ‘Sugar-Ray'”
    Bicycles may not be ridden without “appropriate fashion accessories” anywhere in Santa Clara County (de facto law).
    It is illegal to skateboard on walls “or other vertical surfaces” in Palo Alto.
    Wearing a sweatshirt inside-out is deemed a “threatening misdemeanor” in Half-Moon Bay.
    In 1930, the City Council of Ontario (California) passed an ordinance forbidding roosters to crow within the city limits.
    In Los Angeles, you cannot bathe two babies in the same tub at the same time. (Loony Laws” by Robert Pelton)
    In California, animals are banned from mating publicly within 1,500 feet of a tavern, school, or place of worship.

  16. Facts Over Emotion April 11, 2014 at 12:29 pm #

    Northern Dogs like sled dogs have been sled dogs for a long time. In the summer, their warmth holding undercoat falls out and in the process often looks shaggy during the shedding process. Once those inner warmth giving hairs are shed, what is left behind are hollow insulating hairs that act like layers of shade. If given an artificial source of shade, the dogs prefer to lay in the sun where they can self regulate their temperture. Remember, these are old breeds and they and their way of being cared for have evolved together for 30,000 years or more.

  17. Facts Over Emotion April 11, 2014 at 5:35 pm #

    Proper Dog Tethering Has Many Benefits

    by LittlestMusher | Posted in Be The Lead Dog

    Oregon is currently considering some myopic and ill-conceived legislation that would ban tethering of dogs with some small exceptions. I happen to qualify for one of those exceptions currently written into the bill (i.e. dogs used for dogsledding)…but that exception could just as easily be removed. HB 2783 is flying under most people’s radar screen, and has several well-funded backers.

    The way this legislation is currently written saddens me, because it puts the benefits of proper tethering beyond the reach of most dogs and dog owners. Let me explain why that’s a crime.

    Tethering an animal for their own safety, protection, husbandry and socialization has many benefits to the animal and owner. I have personal experience with those benefits over the last 12 years with my own dogs who live in a tethered dog yard. While my dogs are in fact sled dogs, what I have come to realize is that most of the benefits of tethering would accrue to any breed, working or not, where multiple dogs need to be managed, cared for and socialized properly.

    Proper tethering is a wonderful tool. Benefits to the animal include:

    a) The ability to have both a private space and a social space at the same time. Each dog has their own space where they can relax without having to defend their bone, their bowl, their house, etc. They also have a social space where they can interact with each of their neighbors, should they so choose.

    b) Tethering gives me the ability to treat each dog as an individual. I can interact with each dog personally for feeding, grooming, training, husbandry chores, etc. It is far easier and safer to be able to focus on one dog at a time while trimming toenails, giving shots, feeding and grooming, for example, than trying to sort out multiple dogs at once in a kennel situation. Tethering enables me to give each dog the attention they need and deserve, and treat all members of my kennel with equal respect and care.

    c) Tethering promotes proper socialization of each and every dog. This socialization benefit can’t be overemphasized, whereas in a group penning or kennel situation the boisterous dogs get all the attention and the shy dogs become recluses and crawl further and further into their shells. I like working with shy dogs, and have had several over the years…tethering is the key to helping them become happy, balanced, and contributing individuals.

    d) Tethering eliminates the possibility of fence-fighting, which can occur in kennel runs with fencing between the runs. Dogs are more relaxed on a tether because their environment is more controlled, and being pack animals they need to know that order is established upon which they can rely. When I turn my dogs loose to play, strictly under my personal supervision, they are relaxed with each other and entertain themselves by doing typical doggie behaviors – greeting, peeing, sniffing, etc. When I am done with my chores and it is time to go back onto their tethers I announce “Time to go to bed!” and literally all the dogs either run over to their spot to be hooked up, or they follow me around the yard like the Pied Piper, asking to be tethered at each spot we come to.

    e) Tethering teaches the dog important life skills about untangling themselves. My dogs who live on tethers learn by doing, and when folks visit my dog yard they are amazed at the dogs bounding around, jumping and running, and yet never getting tangled. That’s a learned skill which I recently realized I take for granted – I adopted a rescue border collie and had to teach her a “FEET” command to untangle herself from the leash. Spending some time in the dog yard on a tether greatly enhanced her skills, and greatly reduced the frustration factor for both of us.

    f) Tethering gives each dog the opportunity to exercise, maintain muscle tone, cardiovascular fitness, etc. throughout the year. Each dog has far more individual “exercisable” space than would be possible in a similar sized yard set up with kennel runs.

    You’ll note that none of these benefits have anything to do with sled dogs per se. I have come to realize through personal experience that tethering is a GREAT way to manage a group of dogs, no matter the breed or use. Companion pet dogs would gain all these same benefits of tethering that my dogs enjoy. So to restrict the benefits of tethering to only a small subset of dogs is one of the most ill-conceived portions of this proposed legislation. Golden Retrievers, Pekinese, Portuguese Water Dogs, but to name a few pet dog breeds…all should have the opportunity to benefit from proper tethering.

    Sandy Mandy B-Dandy
    Sweetheart Sandy Mandy B-Dandy

    I am passionate about sharing the benefits of proper tethering with others. In closing, let me reiterate: Please oppose anti-tethering legislation such as Oregon HB 2783, whether in Oregon or your own state. Surely the problems of poorly done tethering do need to be addressed, just as the problems of poorly done animal husbandry do in whatever flavor they manifest themselves.

    But legislation such as this to “throw out the baby with the bath water” puts the benefits of tethering out of reach except (possibly) to a small select few. That is wrong. C’mon folks…address the real issue, not just make blanket easy prohibitions.

    Make no mistake…this legislation is a threat to all dog owners, whether or not you tether your dogs. It changes the playing field and moves the discussion onto the slippery slope of “What can you do with your dog?” When a specific healthy and beneficial activity is targeted with legislation, that should be a grave concern to all thoughtful, compassionate and engaged dog owners.

  18. Facts Over Emotion April 11, 2014 at 5:38 pm #

    Positive Effects of Tethering
    by Nancy Russell*
    Those who show dogs or have them as house pets tend to think that only a kennel or fenced yard is a suitable way to confine a dog. The animal rights people claim that tethering a dog is cruel and promotes aggressive behavior. They find a few cases where dogs are inappropriately chained, and have bitten then use this as a reason to ban tethering of all dogs. Despite claims that tethering of dogs leads to increased levels of aggression, Dr. Houpt’s team of researchers at Cornell University found otherwise. Dr. Houpt, the James Law Professor of Animal Behavior in the Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University, is the world’s leading expert on tethering and aggression in dogs. She and fellow researchers published their study, “A Comparison of Tethering and Pen Confinement of Dogs,” in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science. The study concluded that the tethering of dogs is a safe and humane means of confinement. Experienced mushers, veterinarians and other medical professional that are dog mushers recognize this and use tethering as the preferred method of confinement. Over the past 14 years I have become an advocate of tethering and now my dogs are housed on chains.
    For 25 years I raised Alaskan Malamutes for conformation shows and weight pulling, but I wanted to find out if the show dogs I had bred for so many generations could go back and work and survive in their native environment. Jamie Nelson, a professional musher and friend, agreed to take this challenge. However she insisted the dogs live like sled dogs; on chains. During the 4 years of training for the Iditarod race the dogs lived in Jamie’s dog yard. One at a time they would come to my kennel to be shown. I noticed that the muscle tone on these dogs living on a chain was much better than my dogs that were kenneled and roadworked. Even during the summer when it was too hot for them to be worked in harness they maintained good muscle tone by pulling against the chain as they circled their area. Most of these dogs lived 2 years longer than my dogs housed in kennels and they had better hip ratings.
    However, the most important reason for housing sled dogs on chains is they learn how to keep from getting tangled and how to get out of a tangle if they get in one. This is vital to them if they should become tangled when running in a team. A dog that panics and pulls and fights against the lines is likely to be injured. Dogs that live on chains become so adept that they will keep going on 3 legs, raising the tangled leg so the line will slide off. I have even seen them flip on their back when more than one leg is tangled to let the lines slip off the legs and then jump back up clear of the lines and keep on going. The whole process taking less time than it took you to read this.
    Another advantage to housing dogs on chains is it eliminates fence fighting and promotes play behavior between the dogs. I didn’t really believe Jamie when she told me this but now I agree. For several years now our dogs have been tethered when we are at our place in CO and when we are at the kennel in WI they are in chainlink runs. About 3 days after they are back in the kennel runs the fence fighting starts. When back on their chains the aggressive behavior turns to play interaction.
    In addition to the advantages tethering has for sled dogs it is also a safer means of housing dogs in areas that get heavy snowfalls. Having snow get so deep the dogs can walk out of their kennel fencing is a concern of all dog owners living in those areas.
    And for other specific situations tethering can have positive effects. I have used tethering as a tool to overcome shy or fear behaviors with amazing success. One example:
    I acquired a male, just over a year old, that had not been socialized. He had basically lived in a fenced yard and saw no one but the owner and another dog. He backed away or hid from strange noises, new objects, fast movement and all people he did not know. I did the usual things like basic obedience, taking him to conformation classes and to shopping centers. I biked him on the road, stopping at different houses, and anywhere kids were playing. He showed some improvement but not enough to even consider showing him. Then Jamie suggested I chain him out at the entrance to our place. She said living behind a kennel fence he was able to move away from anyone coming to the fence. The fence was his security. So I tried it. We had lots of traffic at our house because of the dogs and the zoo animals so people were walking past him, then into his area and finally up to him and he had no place to hide. Usually when he backed off the people just went on to the other dogs. Within a week I could see a difference in his behavior. He was showing interest in strangers. In a month he was a new dog, greeting everyone that came. The other insecurities to noise and strange objects diminished as his confidence grew. He was ready to show. He became a Champion and a Best in Specialty Winner.
    I hope the information provided will encourage you to vote against any law banning tethering.
    *My credentials:
    Humane Officer for 25 years for the Village of Sussex and Town of Lisbon, Wis.
    Board of Directors for local Humane Society, Waukesha, Wis.
    Breeder of more than 200 AKC Champion Alaskan Malamutes
    Owner of the only AKC registered team of Malamutes to run in the Iditarod Race
    AKC judge of Working Breeds


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