A warmer and drier than average winter is causing sled dog trainers to use off-season training techniques in lieu of sleds, according to Sno-Trek Sled Dog Adventures trainer Howard Thompson.
"Simply put we're running on wheels. We've had a tradition for decades actually of preparing our dogs for the winter season by having them pull motor less four wheelers or ATV's" Thompson told Newsline 9.
Portion so Central Wisconsin have seen daytime temperatures nearly six degrees warmer than usual in January, and the region is more than 11 inches below normal snowfall levels. Those factors have led to little to no snow pack in areas of unusually snow-covered Wisconsin.
Even areas with snow do not have enough to allow sleds to be used to run the dogs.
Regardless of trail conditions, Thompson says his team of Alaskan Huskies maintains their fitness. His dogs are part of Sno-Trek Sled Dog Adventures, W573 US Highway 10, Mondovi. The team takes tourists for rides through the landscapes of east central Wisconsin.
"Alaskan Huskies are a breed of dog that has resulted from a lot of cross breeding of different breeds in Alaska during the Gold Rush around 1900. The hear better, smell better, and see things that we don't see" Thompson said.
Thompson says that no matter what the conditions or weather is like, his dogs' safety comes first.
"You always finish and leave gas in their tank. That's how you develop trust. They know you'll rest them before they need rest. You water and feed them before they need those things" he said.