KENNAN - When you hear the word "mush," you may think of huskies pulling sleds in the winter, but in the summer, sled dogs often are still hard at work practicing for races in the snow.
It's called dryland dog sledding.
The Baum Family of Price County is particularly passionate about it. So passionate that they will host its first dryland derby on their farm this October. They expect to have about 70 racers from all over the world.
It's an international sport, and it can be very physically demanding.
"You start when they're a puppy," said Ailena Baum, a dryland dog musher. "Some of it's sled dog culture, the older dogs teach it to the younger dogs."
The Baums have been sled dog racing for years and they practice on their farm near Catawba. For them, dog sledding is part of their family. They travel together for races, and they practice together.
Ailena Baum introduced her husband to the sport when they first met. Now he says he is just as passionate.
"I was impressed," said Dan Bocock, Ailena Baum's husband. "I was hooked."
They say it takes the whole family to raise the dogs, spending at least a few hours a day feeding them, giving them water and training them.
When the Baum girls were young, they started running dogs. About 10 years ago, they bred huskies for sledding. Now, they have 13 huskies.
"And we're going through about a couple tons of food every year, and it's got to be high quality food," Baum said. "When we buy food, I mean, I think it's costing us about $55 for a 45 lb. bag of food."
The dryland derby is open to the public and will take place at the Baum Farm on October 17-18.
|Story By: Stephanie Haines