Story and photos submitted by Boardman Rest Area Supervisor Joleen Odens
Tim and Julie Curley from western Oregon had their dogs out for a rest period when we spotted the dog sled on top of the trailer and went over to investigate.
This is the Curley’s third year racing up at Joseph. Jim hopes to make qualifying time to enter the Alaskan Iditarod. He has 21 years experience sledding and often speaks at schools telling kids about the dogs and their adventures. Jim said he has learned not to bring the dogs to school with him because they always steal the show.
The Curley’s own 22 dogs—and their lead dog is named Eagle in honor of the Joseph Eagle Cap Race. In 2008, Eagle’s mother was pregnant with seven (including Eagle) when she participated in the race. The Curley’s had no idea she was expecting when they ran her. So officially, Eagle and his siblings had 100 miles of racing experience before they were even born! Five of the pups have names inspired by that memorable 2008 race. Eagle, Olicot, Tyee, Summit, and Bear are all returning this year to compete once more.
When asked why the dogs are smaller than most sled dogs you see in photographs or on television, Jim said that his dogs are trained only for racing and so are smaller and faster. Eagle and his mother are German shorthair and Alaskan Husky crosses.
Lighter dogs like the Curley’s have no problems pulling the sled, which carries only enough supplies to get from checkpoint to checkpoint. A typical load includes one pound of dog food per dog, so the dogs do not have to pull a lot of weight. The bigger more muscular dogs some of us might be more used to seeing typically pull heavier sleds under different circumstances.
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