REVIEW: Skijor with Your Dog

Review of Skijor with Your Dog by Mari Hoe-Raitto and Carol Kaynor by MLH Bonham

Copyright 1995 by MLH Bonham

Looking at skijoring from a musher’s perspective, I wasn’t quite sure what to
expect, since skijoring has always been treated as an addendum to most mushing
books. Mushing books usually teach you how to mush (no great surprise here) and
then adds a few paragraphs of “well, if you can’t own as many dogs as we do, you
can try skijoring.” No surprise that I did not think of skijoring as anything
else, but an extention of mushing.

Well, to a certain degree, there is some truth to that, but Mari’s and Carol’s
book gave me a bit more insight into the sport. It is a comprehensive guide to
skijoring, equivalent to Mush! A Beginner’s Manual to Sled Dog Training, with
a rather notable exception in that Skijor is much more up to date. It treats
skijoring as a sport in its own right with sections on choosing a skijoring dog,
training, equipment, dog care, trail etiquette, pulka, winter camping and
competition.

I’m a real how-to and list freak, so I was excited to see diagrams on dog houses
and booties. There are diagrams of skijor tug lines with step by step
instuctions on how to create them using fids. I was not disappointed in the list
department either, Mari and Carol provide you with feeding and training
schedules, winter camping equipment and other equally interesting items. This is
a terrific book for someone who is willing to put forth a little effort to make
some of their equipment.

Carol and Mari take great pains to describe stuff that I consider to be more or
less second nature that most novices would have trouble with. They also put into
words some very critical information such as weight and proper care. I was
relieved that they spelled out what a fit dog looks like. They spend an entire
chapter on trail etiquette – something I wish more mushing books would
emphasize. The training sections give the beginner a good idea of how to train
their dog. The only fault I could find in their training section was “tire
training”, which I no longer recommend because beginners usually pick truck
tires (or tires that are too heavy for most dogs). This is always a matter of
opinion because a lot of mushers use tires as drags with success. I would have
also liked to see Lee Fishback’s book, Training Lead Dogs referenced.

Some things, like nutrition, I felt were somewhat glossed over, but then I
reminded myself that this is a beginner’s guide and most people who pick up
this book aren’t going to understand the intricacies of nutrition. Another thing
I found amusing was the use of Alaskan slang, such as describing a dog’s diet of
“meat and cereal”. My first thought was, “Oh, they mean rice or barley”. I asked
a non-musher what “cereal” meant and the thought of breakfast cereal popped in
their mind. (I had an amusing thought of someone feeding Wheaties to their dogs
:wink: Actually, both definitions are wrong – they meant kibble.

Overall, I recommend this book to anyone interested in the sled dog sports,
including mushers. There is enough good cross-over information to make the book
a worthwhile edition to anyone’s library. I found myself having to constantly
pry the book from my spouse’s grasp to finish reading it, which in and of
itself, says quite a bit.

Rating: A Malamute Touchdown

Sky Warrior


Rating Scale:

A Dog Turd – Not worthy of reading A Tail Wag – I liked it, but there were
some glaring problems A Malamute Touchdown – I recommend it. Call your
outfitter up and order it

             "No good dogs, far from. Good dogs, close to."

  /\____ Sky Warrior aka MLH Bonham // ~ / _\_____
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