OooWoo Racing Kennel FAQ
This is a collection of questions that I am often asked about my kennel.
I also get asked a lot of questions about mushing, but I've tried to separate
those into the mushing FAQ. There
might be one or two here that sneaked through though.
- What does "OooWoo" mean?
- The name come from the sound that the dogs make, and
one dog in particular (although they all sound somewhat
similar). Queva, who was the first Siberian Husky I ever
got, and my first lead dog, always makes a sound like
that when he is "scolding" me for something or "talking"
to me. It is an "ooowoowoowoooooo" type sound. That is
where I got my kennel name. I never was very clever about
naming things. I even need help when it comes to naming
- Isn't New Mexico a desert (or too hot to run dogs/no snow, etc)?
- Before I moved to Los Alamos, I used to live at 8200ft
in the Jemez Mountains. There I had plenty of snow fall and
could, in the winter time, mush right from my front door.
Now I live at around 7100ft, on a desert plateau at the
base of these mountains. While where I am now I cannot mush
from my front door, there is enough snow nearby to train. In
northern New Mexico, where I am, there are several ski areas,
including one about 20 minutes from here. Over the years, there
have been sled dog races here and there in the state, but the
majority that I compete at are in Colorado.
- So, have you ever run the Iditarod?
- I get asked this question a lot. I'm not sure why, other
than most people, particularly around here, know woefully little
about mushing. Since the Iditarod is the only race most people
have ever heard of, it is a natural question. However, I am
a small kennel, consisting of usually no more than 6 dogs. I
sprint race, rather than distance race. To run the Iditarod,
particularly living here, would take a tremendous amount of money.
Most people that run that race live in Alaska (although the
1995 winner was a Montana resident). It takes many more dogs
that I have (like a kennel of around 50) and more time and
money than I have.
- Do you ever want to run the Iditarod?
- I don't know. At this point, I am content to have my small
kennel and sprint race in my area. Maybe someday. Who knows.
However, it is not a dream of mine or a goal or anything.
- How do you train when there is no snow?
- I use a wheeled rig of my own design, shown below. It
has a steering wheel/chain mechanism for steering, and a
large bar brake to slow down (it is nearly impossible to stop
dogs entirely using a cart brake). The bar brake can also
act as an emergency brake, but really only to keep the cart
from rolling rather than holding the dogs back. It weights
around 200 lbs.
- How do you do in the races (or, how much money do you make)?
- Although I have been racing for several years, I am not
terribly competitive. I did not start mushing to win races,
make money, or even make it a career. Neither did most people.
I just want to enjoy the sport and my dogs, and give my dogs
something to do that they enjoy. Since I race Siberian Huskies,
I will never be able to beat most of the fast Alaskan Husky teams
anyway. Put simply, I am in this for fun. I have a job and
a career that puts food on the table. However, I have won stuff
in races before, including cash and dog food. In the Colorado
Mountain Mushers, one of the mushing clubs I belong to, I was
the 3rd place club champion for my class (Siberian/4dog) for the
1994/1995 racing season. So I do alright.
- Where did you get your dog boxes?
- I designed and built them myself, as do most mushers. In
my case, since I usually have no more than six dogs at a time,
and since I wanted to be able to remove the boxes by myself,
I built them modularly, so that I could remove each section one
at a time. Each section hold two dogs, one on each side. The
last section holds all of the gear, food, and other stuff I
need. I am in the process of writing a how-to book on
building modular dog boxes like these, complete with measurements.
Also included will be information on other things to add to the dog
truck. This is in progress. Stay tuned.
- Where did your kennel logo come from?
- My brother. For my birthday one year, he surprised me by welding
me a sign to put up in my driveway. He thought that logo up somehow.
I liked it enough to use it for my kennel logo. I raced this sign
onto a large piece of poster board and cut it out, and used it to
trace the logo on the sign on the back of my dog truck. The sign
on the back of my truck is shown below:
- How did you get started in the sport?
- Basically by accident. I always liked Siberian Huskies, and I had
a small husky mix as a kid. Once I finished college and got a "real job"
I found a Siberian Husky puppy in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This was Queva.
At around the same time, I took up cross country skiing. Here in Los Alamos
we usually have plenty of snow for such activities (in fact there is a ski
area just a few minutes away in the Jemez mountains). As Queva matured, I
began taking her with me when I would go skiing. At around the same time,
I also got an Alaskan Malamute puppy (Sipapu), and began taking him along
as well. At some point during my skiing, it occured to me that the dogs
might be able to pull me on my skis. At the time, I did not realize that
this was called skijouring. I just made a makeshift belt and
rope, and had the dogs pull me. I knew absolutely nothing about skijouring
or mushing, so I did not know what steering commands to use, so I started
by using "left", "right", and "whoa." Eventually, I found that the dogs
were going fast enough that it was becoming difficult to steer and control
myself in wooded areas. I then decided to begin looking for a sled. I
found a good book on the topic, and learned the proper commands for
turning ("Gee" and "Haw"), found a sled, and the rest is history. Once
I got the sled, I really got the taste of mushing. I joined clubs and
began going to races. Before I knew it, I had kennels, and a dog truck,
and so on. I was hooked.
- How can I get started in the sport?
- You're in luck! When I started, getting information was quite difficult,
especially due to where I am located. I had to do a lot of trial and error
stuff, and I made a lot of mistakes. I even had a hard time finding decent
books on the topic. Now, there is a pleathora of information available,
both printed and, most importantly, on the internet! I would have killed
for sites like this one, and the others on my home page, the sleddog-l
mailing list, and so on. But this stuff was not in place when I started.
But it is for you! Right at your fingertips. There is no better place
to start learning than with the online information.
- How long are your races?
- I am a sprint racer, and at the time of this writting, I was only
running 4 dogs. With this number of dogs, I race in a 4 dog class.
In that class, it is typically 1 mile per dog. Therefore, my races
are usually 4 miles in length. The races are run over a weekend.
The first day's starting order is by random draw. Your time over
the course is recorded. The second day's starting order is by
time, i.e., the fastest teams start first, the slowest last. While
some races have a dual start, in which multiple teams start
from the starting line simultaneously, most are staged starts, in which
individual teams go out in one minute intervals. Most sprint races
around here offer 3 dog (unsantioned class), and 4,6, and 8 dog sanctioned,
with again the distance being approximately one mile per dog.
- Why do you run Siberian Huskies (as opposed to Alaskan Huskies)?
- I don't really have a good answer for this. It is how I started. I
have always loved the breed, and I love racing the breed and having it
work as it was intended to do. I see too many show Siberians that are,
in my estimation, poor representations of the working nature of the breed.
While it is true that I will never be as fast as some Alaskan teams (although
I have beaten some), as I mention above, I am really not in the sport
to win races. I am in the sport to enjoy my dogs and have the dogs enjoy
- How do you pick your dog's names?
- I tend not to be very clever when naming things. I never have been
good at that. What I typically do is either consult the book "Russian
Names for Russian Dogs" or just look at an atlas of the general northern
Siberian area for place names. If I see something that is catchy, I use
it (or bastardize it somewhat and use it). Like I said, not that clever.
- Is there a book available that has common Innuit or Chuckchi language
that I can use to name my dogs?
- Not that I know of. However, I did find a reference to
Eskimo Words for Snow that might be
of use. See also Dog Names,
which has various Native Alaskan word translations.
- My Siberian Husky is misbehaving in some way. How can I solve the problem(s)?
- I get asked questions like this constantly, owing to the difficult nature of the
Siberian Husky breed. Fortunately, most of the problems are both common and solvable. See
the Siberian Husky FAQ for relief.
- I want to use some of your images, words, etc, on my web site, in my book, or some
other medium. May I?
- Unless otherwise noted, all information on my web pages are copyrighted by me.
I generally grant permission for the use of my material however, but you must send me a
private email message and ask first.
- My Siberian (or other dog) has biting flies attack their ears, eye, and lip areas all summer long.
Is there anything I can do about this?
- Yes. You can apply a cream used on horses that kills flies on contact. I get this
from my veterinarian. You can also construct a "fly trap" out of doog excrement. To do this,
take a small amount of dog excrement and place it outside your kennel area, so your dogs cannot
get to it. Apply a good dose of fly crystals to it. The combination of the crystals and waste
draws the flys from your dogs and kills them. It will not elliminate all flies, but this combined
with cream will usually make things bearable at least.
- Do you have dog house plans?
- I have my own, but they are in my head. :-) However, perhaps this site
will help. See also this site.
- Do you recommend breeders or know where I can get a puppy?
- I do not recommend breeders. I suggest trying the Siberian Husky Club of America
home page. They have breeder information there.
- Do you want to buy my puppy? Do you have puppies to sell??
- Why don't you like wireless/invisible fences?
- I get asked this a lot due to a comment I make in the Siberian Husky FAQ.
The reason I don't recommend them is two-fold. First, they do not keep other animals out of your
yard. Therefore, if other stray dogs are running around in your area, they are free to roam onto
your property and interact with your dog. This also includes other forms of wildlife in your
area that you may or may not want interacting with your dog. Second, if your dog should run across
the fence line (as they might do if they were, say, chasing something), they are shocked when
they attempt to return home. For these reasons, I do not recommend invisible fences.
- Do you have cart plans or know where I can get some?
- I do not have cart plans nor do I know where any are available online.
I'd rather be driving sled dogs