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Grainger Everyday Heroes: Musher

6/29/20
Grainger Editorial Staff

Get an inside look at the outside world of raising sled dogs. Tasha Stielstra, owner and educator of Nature's Kennel Sled Dogs, has a sled dog touring business and a competitive racing team. Unlike snowmobile or car racing, this business is 365 days a year because you're caring for and raising animals. Tasha says people should experience the magic of winter and try new things because you might see something different in yourself.

In the Eastern upper peninsula, our biggest asset is snow. If there's any place in the lower forty eight guaranteed snow in winter, it's going to be here. I'm Tasha Stielstra. We are at Nature's Kennel Sled Dogs in the eastern upper peninsula of Michigan. We have about 150 Alaskan husky sled dogs. We have a sled dog touring business where people can come and learn to drive a dog sled or take a ride in the sled.. We also have a competitive racing team that we run out of the kennel. [Sled dog racing is] different than snowmobile racing or car racing where there's a season. You can park that car for a couple of months, everybody takes a vacation and you're done. With dogs, it's a 365 days a year [operation] because you're caring for animals. Then [after caring for them, you can get] lucky enough to be able to race them some of that time as well.

The breed you see here is an Alaskan Husky, which is a non-registered [breed] and is not an AKC breed. For the last few hundred years, they've been bred better and better to be racing dogs. They're a northern breed dog. In general, they're pricklier. Their ears will probably stand up. They have a double thick coat, an outer layer of guard hairs and inner downy fur, and are pretty social. [These dogs are] not a specific registered breed, [that's why] they look so different from each other.

This is the gang line, this is what's going to connect us to the sled. We tie our sled off here, because once they get hooked up they really like to run. We have a quick release that we tie to a pole so when we're ready to go, I pull [the rope attached to the quick release] and we'll be off and running.

We live in an inside world where we don't spend a lot of time outside. I think people are a little afraid to be outside sometimes. What if I get cold? What if my toes get cold? What if my fingers get cold? You know, we're not out there for days and days at a time with our guests. It's for a few hours and to get people to experience the magic of winter. It's OK to push yourself a little bit to try new things. You never know what you may see in yourself. You never know what you may see in your kids. You know, [I love] seeing people come back with that look of "Oh, that was awesome!"

The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.

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