Dog sledding champions are among us

Dog sledding team Image Credit: unsplash

The American Dog Derby, America’s oldest dog race will be on Feb. 18 and 19. There are five different races offered this year, including a mutt race, snowshoe race and a weight pull, if snow conditions permit.

In the past, the big race was held in Ashton, Idaho, but this year it will be held at Bear Gulch.

Due to limited parking at Bear Gulch, there will be a shuttle running back and forth from the North Fremont High School parking lot to Bear Gulch. For the shuttle schedule, click here.

John Scafe, the race’s committee chairman, shared how they keep the historic race up and running for the nearby towns. The committee wants to keep the sport alive, so they put on the race each year, along with other town festivities. However, this year there will be no town events due to snow conditions.

Scafe invites all to come enjoy the race whether you are a religious dog-sled watcher or have never heard of it before.

“It is a unique sport in the area, and if you’ve never seen it, the start is the most exciting,” Scafe said. “The dogs are howling and when you hear those dogs howling and jumping it gets your blood excited and your heart excited too.”

The dogs racing are fast pulling and can pull from 17-20 miles per hour, depending on how many dogs are involved. The average team is made up of about 14 dogs. Each year there are around 30 to 40 teams that attend the race.

Dog sledding has been around in the Ashton area since 1917 when Tud Kent won his first American Dog Derby during a blizzard. Kent’s race was run from West Yellowstone, Montana, to Ashton, Idaho, making the distance a whopping 55 miles.

The committee expects the race this year to be a fun and unique time for everyone who comes out.