Archive

ShareThis Page
Sled dogs pulling their weight at Kittanning Light-Up Night | TribLIVE.com
News

Sled dogs pulling their weight at Kittanning Light-Up Night

Tribune-Review
| Thursday, November 13, 2014 4:31 a.m
LTMusher3111314
Louis B. Ruediger | Trib Total Media
Allen Dunn and his team of dogs on a training run down the Armstrong County Rails to Trails in Mosgrove on Wednesday. Nov. 12, 2014
LTMusher2111314
Louis B. Ruediger | Trib Total Media
Allen Dunn with his two lead dogs, Pauly (left) and Jumbo, while training on the Rails to Trails in Mosgrove.
LTMusher1111314
Louis B. Ruediger | Trib Total Media
Jumbo (left) and Pauly lead the pack of sled dogs owned by Allen Dunn of Rayburn.

A Rayburn man has been busy preparing his red sled to give rides along Market Street to people at Kittanning’s Light-Up Night on Nov. 21.

But it won’t be horses or even reindeer pulling the sleigh during the holiday event — the rides will be led by musher Allen Dunn’s team of dogs.

Dunn, who is training his 20 Alaskan and Siberian huskies for sled dog races in Montana and Michigan in February, will be giving folks a chance to ride in his modified golf cart pulled by his team on a route around downtown Kittanning.

“It’s going to be a really good addition,” said Ray Voller, president of Downtown Kittanning, the group organizing Light-Up Night. “Anyone I’ve talked to who has been involved in other Light-Up Night events have said they have never had something like this. This is the first for Kittanning.”

Dunn, who is a disabled veteran, hopes his participation in the celebration will get him noticed by businesses for sponsorship in races. He wants to compete in the 1,000-mile Alaskan Iditarod race in 2017 — a goal that would cost him about $30,000 to reach.

While looking to the future, Dunn kept his dogs focused Wednesday on a training run along the Rails to Trails between Mosgrove and Templeton in Armstrong County.

“They absolutely love to run,” Dunn said.

The dogs yapped excitedly, nearly grinning ear-to-ear, as they waited for Dunn to hitch them up to the sled before the run. The faster Alaskans were out in front, with the stronger Siberians at the back.

As soon as Dunn gave the command, “Hike,” the dogs fell silent and took off. Dunn steered the sled and kept a sharp eye on his team to make sure the dogs didn’t show any sign of stress or get their harnesses tangled.

“Jumbo is the leader — he takes all the commands,” Dunn said. “The swing dogs are right behind ­— they make the turns. The wheel dogs at the back have all the strength.”

Recent cold temperatures make training easier, he said. Until the cold snap, he had to run his dogs early in the morning or late at night.

Dunn started training sled dogs about five years ago after seeing his first race in Warren County. Last year, he competed in the 350-mile “Race to the Sky” at Seeley Lake, Montana, but had to drop out with 50 miles left when his dogs started showing signs of exhaustion.

He feels confident that he and his team have a good shot at getting through the next couple of races, which would qualify him for the Iditarod.

“They do this because they love it, and they do it for me too,” he said as his team ran in unison along the silent, tree-lined trail. “This is like stepping back in time. The Eskimos have used these dogs for centuries. Steering the sled and hearing nothing except the sound of the dogs breathing is a great feeling.”

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or bbeatty@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.