|AAPT Winter Meeting 2006|
Early sled pullers were reindeer and moose. Dogs were found to work better. This led to inflated prices, dog-napping in San Francisco for shipment north to Alaska. Dogs commanded up to $500.
Alaskan dogs were taken to France to be used in the mountains during WWI. Dog teams were also used in WWII to recover downed aircraft.
Alaska huskies are not pure-bred. They are a mix of Siberian husky with other breeds.
Dog teams were used to deliver the US Mail until 1963. In 1925 dog teams delivered anti-diphtheria serum to Nome to combat an outbreak.
The Iditarod race lasts 9 - 18 days on the trail. Dogs are fed balanced food, and given warm water to drink. On the first Saturday in March there is a ceremonial start in Anchorage. Teams are then relocated to the official start.
Mushers use alcohol stoves to prepare food and water for the dogs. There are no classes in the race. Dogs will sleep 12 out of 24 hours, while mushers sleep 3 out of 24. If a dog gets sick, it is flown back to Anchorage.