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 my dogs...
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 working.
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 translations 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