Letters

Letters 05-02-2016

Facts About Trails I would like to correct some misinformation provided in Kristi Kates’ article about the Shore-to-Shore Trail in your April 18 issue. The Shore-to-Shore Trail is not the longest continuous trail in the Lower Peninsula. That honor belongs to the North Country Trail (NCT), which stretches for over 400 miles in the Lower Peninsula. In fact, 100 miles of the NCT is within a 30-minute drive of Traverse City, and is maintained by the Grand Traverse Hiking Club...

North Korea Is Bluffing I eagerly read Jack Segal’s columns and attend his lectures whenever possible. However, I think his April 24th column falls into an all too common trap. He casually refers to a nuclear-armed North Korea when there is no proof whatever that North Korea has any such weapons. Sure, they have set off some underground explosions but so what? Tonga could do that. Every nuclear-armed country on Earth has carried out at least one aboveground test, just to prove they could do it if for no other reason. All we have is North Korea’s word for their supposed capabilities, which is no proof at all...

Double Dipping? In Greg Shy’s recent letter, he indicated that his Social Security benefit was being unfairly reduced simply due to the fact that he worked for the government. Somehow I think something is missing here. As I read it this law is only for those who worked for the government and are getting a pension from us generous taxpayers. Now Greg wants his pension and he also wants a full measure of Social Security benefits even though he did not pay into Social Security...

Critical Thinking Needed Our media gives ample coverage to some presidential candidates calling each other a liar and a sleaze bag. While entertaining to some, this certainly should lower one’s respect for either candidate. This race to the bottom comes as no surprise given their lack of respect for the rigors of critical thinking. The world’s esteemed scientists take great steps to preserve the integrity of their findings. Not only are their findings peer reviewed by fellow experts in their specialty, whenever possible the findings are cross-checked by independent studies...

Home · Articles · News · Features · A sled dog summer
. . . .

A sled dog summer

Carol South - July 19th, 2007
A four-dog morning is part of Mike King’s daily routine.
The owner of four Siberian Huskies, a matched set with glorious strawberry blonde fur (technically known as light red,) most mornings find King exercising and training his dogs as they pull him around Traverse City on a light cart. During winter months, King rides a traditional sled over the snow.
Each day, whether lounging outside Oryana Food Coop in the shade while their owner has a cup of coffee, running gleefully along the TART Trail or plunging into the bay, Timber, Danni Girl, Ginger and Tess relish their workout.
Tongues lolling and eyes bright, they are always ready for action at their master’s command. Instant conversation starters wherever he goes, the friendly King enjoys talking about his dogs, their personalities, his training regimen and life in tow.
“Siberians are real smart, real social,” said King, a ski instructor in the winter who works afternoons at a garden store in the summer. “They are a small breed. That way they don’t eat much, and they are bred for endurance. Siberians are usually the lead dogs.”
“They’re very well behaved but they have high energy,” he added.

16 MPH
The 45-50-pound females can easily pull the cart on a groomed path at speeds up to 16 miles per hour, with an average of six to nine miles per hour. The sled in the winter can go up to 23 miles per hour.
He usually keeps the dogs out of downtown, where coaster toys are not allowed. During a recent Smart Commute Week, however, the team scooted along a few of those streets, lending another angle to alternative transportation.
“They’re used to traffic and people,” King said.
The arctic breed is actually the source of the saying “three-dog night,” honoring the symbiotic relationship between human and animal.
“The Indians bred them to literally sleep with, and a three-dog night is literally a night so cold you’d sleep with three dogs,” King noted. “Their body temperature is 103 degrees, so they’re pretty warm to sleep with.”
The sultry days of summer are a long way from Alaska, but they still provide great training times for the dogs, which live with King and his wife in a subdivision just outside of town. Nearly every morning, the couple loads the dogs in their car and drives them to town for a 16-legged and four-wheeled workout. The Kings eschew walking the dogs in their neighborhood so the dogs will not think of it as their stomping grounds and want to go walk about.
“I don’t walk them in my subdivision because then they’ll think it’s their territory,” said King, who fears the dogs would then roam at will whenever possible. “They’re only allowed to go to two neighbors’ houses.”

MOBILE MUSHING
When they train, the Kings park the gas-powered vehicle along the bay (to facilitate post-training dips), unload the dogs, and hitch them to a child’s four-wheeled coaster modified for dog lines. A jug of water and a drinking bowl are strapped to the cart for hydration breaks.
With one of the humans on a bike, the team carrying the other is off. Following a biker helps keep the dogs in better alignment as they pass other walkers or cyclists.
“It’s neat to see them do what they’re bred to do,” said King, a self-taught musher who adapted commands for his vehicle. “They have a very low tolerance for pain, so if they don’t like something they let you know.”
King uses commands such as “line out” for get ready, “let’s go” to start, “gee” for right and “haw” for left. He says “on by” when passing on the trail or if potentially distracting squirrels comes into view, to keep the dogs going.
Both canines and humans are avid kayakers. King purchased a tandem kayak just for his dogs, with the four perching in the front seat.
“I’ve hooked the baby just on a leash and let her pull the boat – I’d like to see if I could get all four of them to someday,” he said.

 
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