Monday, November 2, 2009

Mush! Pronounced (Moo-sh) in Yup'ik

“Their tails are high and tongues awag-the twin banners of sled dog contentment.”
-Clara Germani

I found this information off in an article by Barb Taliaferro
Mushing vocabulary can be broken into 3 basic categories: Commands, Equipment and Dogs.

That's Sherry and Addy in the sled being manned by Principal Eric, who also built the sled. Steph, Einer and I are zooming along side on the snow go getting some great pics. Einer fell asleep about 3 minutes into the endeavor. Only a child born in Alaska.


Sled dogs are not guided by reins or other physical means, but rather by the driver's voice commands. To accomplish this the mushers have developed a vocabulary of short words that can easily be easily heard and understood by the dogs even in poor weather conditions.

Gee - right turn
Haw - left turn
Come - tells the dog to do the command that follows, such as Come Gee, meaning to turn right
Line Out - tells the lead dog to straighten out the line of dogs
Mush or Hike - tells the dogs to get started
Whoa or Halt - tells the dogs to stop


Dog sled racing has a great deal of specialized equipment that the average person may not know. They have also developed some new terms for more common items.

Runners - the part of the sled that actually makes contact with the snow, they run under the sled and extend back far enough for the drivers to stand on them

Snow Hook - a heavy piece of metal attached to the sled, it is used to anchor the sled during short pauses

Snub Line - rope or chain attached to the sled, used to tie the sled to a tree or stake for long stops

Tug Line - used to attach the dogs harness to the main tow line

Toggles - small pieces of ivory or wood used to attach the tug line to the tow line


Mushing obviously could not exist without the dogs that pull the sleds. Dog sled drivers have many different terms to describe their dogs as each dog in the line must have different skills and strengths.

Leader (s)- the first dog in the line he sets the pace and guides all the dogs behind him, a driver will look for a dog that is strong, fast and smart to fill this position. For Eric and Sherry's team that would be Seeker and Quin they are both 7 years old. They are brother and sister.

Swingers - the dogs directly behind the leader, their job is to help swing the other dogs and sled in the desired direction, these dogs must be quick to follow direction and strong. Yesterday that was Chinook- 4yrs old one of Seeker's pups and CT 2 years old (Ani's brother).

Wheelers - the dogs located directly in front of the sled, their job is to help pull the sled out of a snow bank or negotiate around obstacles, they must be very strong. Arolik and Ozone both 4 years old and also litter mates-2 more of Seeker's pups, were wheeling today.

Teamers - any dog in the team that does not have a specific job other than to help pull the sled, drivers look for a willingness to follow the lead of other dogs and stamina in these animals. Today Lefse 4 Years old Seeker's Daugher and Comet 2 years old-one of Martin Buser's pups (Iditarod Champion Musher) were teaming.

Below is Steph and I layered up, ready to head out on snow go, as the pit crew, for the first official Pederson Family Mush Day. Today was Addy's first dog sled ride. It's in her blood:)

"Good people are good to their animals.." Proverbs 12:10


  1. Very interesting, Rach!

    p.s. Is that the pipeline behind you?

  2. Sort of except its the water and sewage 'pipeline':)

  3. cool blog rachel from michael hooton