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'Snow' kidding: Sled dogs steal the show during Bemidji event

BEMIDJI -- No snow meant no rides behind a dog sled team, but recreational musher Charlotte Wolf of Brainerd, Minn., presented a history lesson on the art of dogsledding.

Checking dog's skin to ensure hydration
Charlotte Wolf, a recreational musher from Brainerd, Minn., grabs the skin of her sled dog, "Walker," to show how to determine if the dog is dehydrated Tuesday afternoon during a dog sled seminar in Bemidji. (Monte Draper, Forum Communications)

BEMIDJI -- No snow meant no rides behind a dog sled team, but recreational musher Charlotte Wolf of Brainerd, Minn., presented a history lesson on the art of dogsledding.

The lesson, a Bemidji Public Library program planned well in advance of the warm January weather, drew more than 50 people from young to older Tuesday.

"I started with four dogs and my first run I decided I needed more," said Wolf, owner of Wolf Moon Kennel Dogsled Rides. "Much like the dogs, once you start, you cannot stop."

Wolf has more than 25 years experience in dogsledding, mostly in Alaska, but has spent the last three years in the Brainerd Lakes area with her team of 16 dogs.

Wolf brought her lead dog, "Walker," an 11-year-old lead dog Alaskan Husky, and a handler, Erika House, to help in her talk.

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She explained the difference between a basket sled primary used for racing, and her toboggan sled made for distance, hauling and giving rides and why each dogs' back harness is made specifically to fit each animal.

In addition, Wolf talked about the importance of using dog booties in snow and the importance of each piece of equipment. In the past 100 years, dogsledding gear has basically stayed the same, with similar designs used but the materials to make it changing, she said.

"I love dogsledding," Wolf said. "It does not discriminate against age or sex. Anybody at any age can run a team.

"I'm not competitive; it started out as fun and turned into a business."

The library program, with the help of Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Funds, was held at Calvary Lutheran Church.

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