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MTU Mushing Club preps for Copper Dog

The dogs are ready to go for this Friday.
The scenery is drop-dead-gorgeous out at the Otter River Sled Dog Training Center.
The scenery is drop-dead-gorgeous out at the Otter River Sled Dog Training Center.(WLUC)
Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 9:37 PM EST
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TAPIOLA, Mich. (WLUC) - The dogs were raring to go at the Otter River Sled Dog Training Center in Tapiola.

Here, Michigan Tech’s Mushing Club learns the ropes of dog sledding from a professional.

Otter River Sled Dog Trainer Tom Bauer said the club is great and started with lots of support.

“They had a huge amount of people that were interested,” he said. “We got seven mushers into rookie races off the student club the first year.”

Mushing sure is fun, but Bauer said it’s a lot of work for the people involved.

“One of the things I really love about this mushing club is they have adopted that rule in their club that they need to earn the right to run the dogs by coming out and taking care of the dogs first,” said Bauer.

Once students learn how to take care of the dogs, then they can learn to ride.

“You have to have the discipline to get out there on the trail,” said Bauer. “This is a really nice and warm day to come out and run dogs, but there were a couple of weeks where we were hooking dogs up in negative degree weather.”

The MTU Mushing Club President, Christian Stevens, said once you get behind the reins... it’s incredible.

“The dogs are screaming, pounding and pulling you super hard,” he said. “Then, once you get out there on the trail it quiets right down. All you hear is the little clinking of the necklines and their breath as they’re moving.”

In the final week leading up to Copper Dog Stevens and Bauer said they like to go easy on the dogs.

“We want to relax them before the race,” said Bauer. “We want to heal up any nag-a-ling thing.”

The Copper Dog Races begin on Friday in Eagle Harbor and because of coronavirus restrictions organizers are asking that there is no spectating in-person this year.

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