Maine mushers prepare for sled dog racing season
Riding an ATV behind an 18-dog team, Ashley Patterson navigated a network of unplowed logging roads on Dec. 20, in Shirley, cruising over a fluffy layer of fresh snow. The team covered more than 20 miles that day, which was just a short distance in the scheme of things. After all, they were practicing for an upcoming 100-mile race, followed by a 70-mile race and 250-mile race later in the season.
“You’re always saving the race for the race,” Ashley Patterson said.
Experience mushers and dog handlers, Ashley Patterson and her husband Mark Patterson own and operate Lone Wolf Kennel at their home in Shirley, a small town south of Moosehead Lake. They currently have nearly 50 sled dogs, and each winter, a portion of those dogs participate in at least three major long-distance races.
“We teach them everything from little puppies,” Ashley Patterson said, “from the point of crossing bridges to the point of seeing a large crowd of people all cheering them on.”
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