Sunday, 12 February 2012 22:25
This week's Notes from the Trail is all about taking care of sled dogs. In last week's Cast YOUR Vote, students helped us narrow down this topic. Based on your votes, we will focus on feeding the dogs.
Dave and I walked down to the dog kennel this morning. We opened the dog food shed and pulled out a 50 pound block of frozen chicken meat. We had to break the block into smaller pieces for the dogs to eat. We used a log splitter to do the job. The chicken broke apart easily. We filled buckets with cubes of chicken. Each cube of chicken weighs about two pounds.
The dogs were howling and barking while we were working. They knew what we were up to. They know the familiar sound of the food shed door opening. At first, one dog sounded the alarm. He barked as if he was telling the other dogs, “Chicken! Hey guys, they're cutting up chicken for us! I like chicken!” The other dogs began barking and howling. They were telling us that they wanted chicken too.
When the dogs at Wintergreen are working, they need to be fed two times a day. We give them water at the same time as the feeding. These dogs are serious athletes. They work in very cold weather too. They need a diet that is high in protein and fat.
A sled dog's diet is very different from yours. They don't need to eat fruits and vegetables like you. People are omnivores, but dogs are carnivores. That means dogs are meat eaters. We feed the sled dogs dry dog food and frozen chicken. The dog food looks similar to what you might feed your dog at home, but it has a more fat and protein in it. The sled dogs are more excited about the chicken. Each dog gets a two pound chunk of the frozen chicken. This meat contains plenty of protein. When the weather turns really cold, we will supplement their diet with lard. They need extra fat to stay warm in extreme cold.
All of the dogs in the Wintergreen kennel are Inuit dogs. Their nutritional needs are similar. They work really well on this high protein, high fat diet. We have some smaller dogs and some bigger dogs. The bigger dogs need more food. The smaller dogs need less food. We check the dogs often, to make sure each dog gets the right amount of food.
After we have given each dog their chunk of chicken, the kennel is silent. Every dog is happily chewing on their frozen food. Their water dishes have water in them. They are content for now, but we must feed them twice a day. Every person and dog here knows this routine. Tomorrow when we open the food shed again, we will hear the same excited barks.
Food for Thought
How is your diet different from a sled dog's?
What do you eat each day?
What are healthy foods? What are unhealthy foods?
What are the food groups?
To learn about the food groups, check out the Talking My Plate activity:
Use this link to find out how many calories you should eat each day:
Use this link to learn more about each of the food groups:
Use this link to learn more about feeding sled dogs:
Fennel's Field Notes
I had a lot of fun yesterday! Amy was guiding one person on a dogsled. She chose three of my friends to pull the sled. They were George, Ricki, and Millie. They are all friendly, young dogs. I ran along.
The weather was cold and windy. The other three dogs and I liked this. We like the cold weather because we have such thick fur coats. In warm weather, we get too hot. We actually run faster in colder weather, because we are comfortable.
I ran ahead of the dog team. I would stop to smell interesting things. There were wolf tracks on the trail. I could smell the wolves too. I also smelled a snowshoe hare. The snowshoe hare was very close to the trail. It ran away when it saw me. I chased the snowshoe hare, but I didn't catch it.
What a fun day! I hope the weather stays cold. I also wouldn't mind finding more snowshoe hares near the trail.