PEARSON - Most pet owners describe dogs as mans best friend, but to a group of sledders, dogs are their companion in competition.
Dogs pulled sled drivers through trails in Pearson Saturday morning. Trainers like Beth Castaldi say it's usually not cold enough to train dogs in the fall.
That's why the dryland races are miles shorter than snow races.
"We keep the mileage down, so we are not over working our dogs," Castaldi said. "So by the time January comes, when we are ready to run the longer races, they've a lot more training miles and they are in better condition."
Most trainers start running with their dogs when they're pups. Then they use ATV's and bicycles to train the dogs when they get older. But Castaldi says they keep a balance so they don't over work the dogs.
"You want to keep that incredible enthusiasm in the dog so that they want to run," Castaldi said. "You don't want them to be muscle sore or you don't want them to be like, oh I ran yesterday, I don't really want to run today, you know that kind of an attitude."
More than 80 teams competed at the Dirty Dog Dryland Derby. The Wisconsin Trailblazers Sled Dog Club will have another dry race in Wausau on November 16th.
MERRILL - For 32 years Battalion Chief Mike Drury walked into the Merrill Fire Department ready to save lives. Friday he walked out of the department for the last time to start the new phase of his life. "It goes fast it goes really fast," said Drury. Drury was about 18 -years -old when he walked into the Merrill Fire Department for the first time. "When you're 18, 19,20 years old and you're looking at 50 something years old you think you're never going to get there," said Drury.
Drury is one of 184 firefighters to ever work full time with the city of Merrill. "As a firefighter they spend a lot of time at the fire house so they miss a lot of things," said Drury's daughter Cassi. After 32 years of missing birthdays, holidays and family time Drury was ready for a change. "I realized I had enough this is a young man's job," said Drury. Friday afternoon Drury said goodbye to a room of men who merged and became family. "Not having that is a little scary I know they'll always be our family but it's hard to leave," said Cassi. Cassi watched her dad rush off to help his community since the day she was born. "It's scary because you hear about the times things don't go right or the times fire fighters don't come home," said Cassi.
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