Aaron Peck lead dogs on the bike/ski trail during the ceremonial start day of the 2018 Iditarod in Anchorage, Alaska. This year Peck competed in the race and finished 23rd.
Photo by Jeff Schultz
The Alaskan Iditarod Sled Dog Race is open to mushers of all shapes and sizes. But as far as the dogs themselves, it’s an exclusive club.One specific breed of dog is preferred over all other furry creatures living under the name of “Husky.”“A lot of people expect to see the fluffy Siberian Huskies, like you see in the Hollywood movies, but it’s not the case,” Grande Prairie musher Aaron Peck said, while noting the Alaskan Husky is the dog of choice for the Iditarod. “[The Alaskan Huskies] are not a registered breed. They are multi-coloured, short coat, long fur, fluffy ears, one blue eye, one brown eye. Whatever. The gene pool is quite diverse. This is what makes them wonderful is that they have not been bred for show.”Peck finished the southern portion of the Alaskan Iditarod course in 11 days, 11 hours, 10 minutes and five seconds, finishing 23rd.He crossed the finish line under the cover of darkness at 2:10:05 local time, early in the morning on March 15.Peck noted the Alaskan breed have the perfect blend of traits, making them the ideal dog for a race that runs near 1,600 kilometres, covering between 10-14 days, through all kinds of weather and course conditions.“[They have a] good appetite, tough feet, desire to please and willingness to work hard, [with] heart to persevere through adversity,” Peck said. “Nothing phases them, they are just amazing. [There were 53] teams in the race and not a single team of Siberian Huskies. The odd time you’ll get a Siberian team come to the race and they’ll never win the race. They’d be lucky to come in the top-20.”Peck usually drove six to seven hours a day. During the down time, the musher would collect and melt snow to make food so his team could have a main course while resting. During the race, he fed them about every two hours with frozen chunks of meat.There was a large disparity in the types of food the dogs ate, based on the dogs preference.“The base of the diet is a high performance kibble that’s designed for long-distance dogs, with high fat content, high protein,” Peck said. “To that we’ll add combinations of raw chicken, raw beef, beef fat, chicken fat, lots of fish, salmon, beaver meat, pork fat and lamb. It’s good to have a diverse menu. Some dogs become particular when they get tired. My main leader Big Red wouldn’t touch the chicken but he loved the beef.”