Dog Mushing Is The State Sport Of Alaska. Dog Mushing Was announced as Official Alaska State Sport in 1972. Dog mushing has been a way of life in Alaska for a long time. So, what exactly does “mush” mean? Well, it comes from the French word “marche” which is from the verb “marcher.” Marcher means to walk. The People Of Northern have used dogs to pull sleds for centuries; once a primary form of transportation in many parts of Alaska.
At the beginning of the 20th century, most dog sled drivers still ran or skied beside the sled instead of riding on the sled. Only the people who drove light, fast mail or race teams would ride the sled’s runners. From this tradition came sled dog racing. Today State Sport Of Alaska is a worldwide sport for both professional competition and family recreation.
People come from around the world to participate in Alaska State Sport yearly Iditarod; “The Last Great Race.” Today’s racing sled dogs are smaller and sleeker than the sled dogs of old, which weighed about 75 pounds. Scientists think the original sled dogs evolved in Mongolia and migrated north with their humans about 25,000 years ago.
Dog Mushing Terms
From “About Sled Dogs and Sled Dog Racing” by Stephen R. Lee: “Contrary to common belief, the word mush is not used to drive sled dogs. Mush comes from the French word marche which is from the verb marcher which means to walk. Undoubtedly, the French used this during gold rush days. The word mush is felt to be too soft a sound to be used as a command. Below is a short list of common commands and terms associated with dog driving sports.”
Hike: Get the dogs moving
Gee: Turn right
Haw: Turn left
Easy: Slow down
Musher: One that drives sled dogs
Mushing: The act of driving sled dogs
Lead Dog: Dog that steers the sled dog team and regulates the speed
Wheel Dog: Dogs closest to the sled
Sled: Wooden rig the dogs pull in the snow and on which you stand
Snowless Rigs: Also called training carts. Take the place of the sled when there is no snow.