EFA: Etsy For Animals Etsy For Animals: Denali Wilderness Sled Dog Team by BlindWolfSpirit

Etsy for Animals (EFA) aka Artists Helping Animals,

is a team of independent artists, craftspeople,

vintage sellers and craft suppliers on Etsy.com

who are dedicated to providing charitable relief to animals

by donating a portion of the profits from their shops

to an animal charity of their choosing,

and/or to EFA's featured Charity of the Month.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Denali Wilderness Sled Dog Team by BlindWolfSpirit

Denali Wilderness Sled Dog Team
Written by Julie of BlindWolfSpirit

In keeping with this month’s charity of the month, Arctic Rescue, I thought I would write a little about my trip to Denali, Alaska last summer.  

I had the privilege of getting to meet the Denali sled dog team and watch a summertime demonstration. I learned some very interesting things about the Denali Wilderness area and the sled dog team that patrols the park in the winter.  

The Denali National Park is made up of 6 million acres set aside by the government in 1917 as a National Park. The park is home to Mt. McKinley which is North America’s tallest mountain and an incredible array of wildlife. In 1980, over 2 million of those acres were set aside as wilderness. 

Most of the time in the summer, the Denali Wilderness is only accessible by tour bus or on foot. In the winter it is accessible only by dogsled, snowshoes, or cross country skis. Park service employees are responsible for patrolling the wilderness area year-round to protect the wilderness from poachers and to survey the wildlife.  

The park service has a team of sled dogs that live in the park year-round. We visited Denali in July and I was excited to find out we could meet the dogs and see a demonstration. 

I had always thought that sled dogs would not be friendly, but I was so wrong. We were able to meet and pet most of the dogs.  

The day we were there, Pingo, one of the dogs, was having puppies. Of course her pen was off limits to visitors but I did get to see a photo of the first puppy born on the cell phone of one of the park rangers. Everyone was very excited for the birth, including the other dogs who could tell something exciting was happening.  

The rangers explained that each year one batch of puppies was delivered at the park. Most of the puppies are kept by the park service to become part of the team. 

One of the puppies of this particular litter was to be given to the owner of the father. The father of the puppies was a dog who was a Yukon Challenge winner. He was chosen to father the puppies because of his coat and his speed. 

The mother of the puppies was an eight year old Alaskan Huskie who was being retired last year. The rangers explained that Denali sled dogs are retired around eight years of age.  When the park service retires their dogs they are adopted out to civilian homes. 

The Denali sled dogs each have either their own pens or areas, depending on their temperament. 

As animal lovers, I know none of us like to see dogs on chains.  In Denali, the dogs must be restricted to keep them safe from Wolves and Grizzlies. 

The rangers explained that, depending on the dogs’ temperament, some preferred to be in enclosed pens but most enjoyed the freedom of being staked in their own little area with their own ample house.

We were treated to a demonstration where several of the dogs were harnessed to a sled which they then pulled around a dirt track. 

The dogs were quite eager to be hitched to the sled.  

When the dogs are not giving demonstrations in the summer, they are jogging daily along Denali roads with park service employees. I enjoyed meeting the dogs and learning about how the park service patrols the wilderness in the winter. 

I plan to return to Denali in the winter in the next couple of years and travel by sled dog myself through the Denali Wilderness.  

Fortunately for the Denali sled dogs, park service employees are dedicated to taking good care of them and assuring them forever homes after they retire. Many arctic breeds are not treated with as much care. 

When arctic breeds are in need of rescue their lives depend on organizations like Provo, Utah-based Arctic Rescue, our July COTM. You can read my article on them HERE on the EFA blog. 

Please check out Arctic Rescue’s website (links below) to see some of their beautiful success stories and donate if you can. 



donate to the rescue
donate one bag of dog food
donate a Kuranda dog bed



  1. What an incredible trip Julie - thanks so much for sharing ! I sure hope we get to raise some meaningful funds for Arctic Rescue...

  2. Wonderful story! It always makes me happy to hear about working dogs with full and happy lives. And I love their houses!

  3. It was a great trip! I am fortunate that my sister lives in Anchorage now so we can make many trips to Alaska in the future.

  4. Oh i had a question- so are all the dogs that live at Denali Park- were they all born there or not ? I've never been to Alaska- this place looks gorgeous !

  5. Wow Julie, this is a great article and I really enjoyed the photos - thank you! I cannot imagine patrolling 6 million acres! Someday I hope to visit Alaska, but I bet if I do I won't want to leave :>)

    A comment on the chains - in areas where the winters bring lots of snow, it's almost impossible to keep up with shoveling out kennel runs and gates. Also, as snow accumulates around fence lines, it eventually becomes high enough for the dogs to jump out. We have 12 kennel runs with 12 gates, 4 yards and 4 yard gates we have to keep clear of snow so they can be opened. If we get a foot of snow it takes two of us 3 days to shovel the dogs yards. Not only that, kennel and gate latches constantly freeze if they get moisture in them and have to be opened with a hammer. It would be impossible to deal with all this in a large kennel. So the chains, or "stake outs" as they're called are what's used.

  6. Nicole - not all the dogs are born there, they get some of them from other dog sled teams.

    Karen - thank you for ellaborating on the chain issue. I am very sensitive to companion dogs being chained outside, but these dogs do live a different kind of life. I appreciate your explanation of the snow problem because I am sure that is a problem in Denali. I was very impressed by how the dogs were treated. Oh, and I did not want to leave Alaska either. It is gorgeous!


Please leave a positive comment :)
We shall publish it as soon as it is approved...
THANKS for visiting !

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...