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Moose, bison, and trucks—oh my! Mushers talk about dangers of sled dog racing for canines and humans

At the 2024 Iditarod race, musher Dallas Seavey was forced to shoot and kill a moose to protect himself and his dog team.
Posted at 5:12 PM, Mar 08, 2024

PARADISE VALLEY — For a team of local mushers, dog sledding is an escape from reality, a way to connect with nature and man’s best friend. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t potential dangers.

“Watching these dogs realize all the things they can do is amazing,” said Charmayne Morrison. “I’ve gotten to see some beautiful places that I would’ve never got the chance to.”

Morrison is a musher who competes and takes people along with her on her sledding journeys through her business, Morrison Racing Kennel.

Currently, she’s training to run the Iditarod Trail sled dog race in Anchorage, Alaska next year.

“Working with animals is a bit different than working with humans. They can’t quite communicate in the same ways,” said Morrison.

But they sure try. As the 8 dogs wait to get hooked up to the sled, you can hardly hear yourself talk over the barks of excitement. But once they get the command to take off, all is quiet.

“Being out here with them is almost meditative in a way,” said Morrison.

However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t dangerous possibilities to prepare for.

At the 2024 Iditarod trail sled dog race, musher Dallas Seavey was forced to shoot and kill a moose to protect himself and his dog team when the moose became entangled with his dogs.

“Moose will kill the dogs,” said Rob Greger. “It’s happened.”

Greger is Charmayne's partner and coach. He’s been mushing for 37 years and has competed in the Iditarod race twice.

“Mill Creek is where I first started running dogs,” said Greger.

He says knowing the trail you’re running can make a difference in safety—but still, you never know when you’ll be taken by surprise.

“A lot of mushers carry guns,” said Greger. “I’ve encountered moose but most of the time they will wander off the trail.”

One particular scare he’s had while running a trail was in West Yellowstone.

“A herd of bison, full blast, were running at us,” said Greger. “My daughter asked, 'What do we do?' and I yelled, 'Stop the team, put your hooks in, and wave your arms.' Luckily they turned around.”

From snowmobiles to stray dogs running off-leash, the list goes on of potential dangers while dog sledding according to Greger.

“The team and I got hit by a truck up here,” said Greger. “Not too bad, but the dogs got hurt.

Upsetting, but Greger says the rewards outweigh the risks.

“There’s a special bond between dogs that work,” said Greger.

“It’s a combination of that and the personal challenge of taking on something that is so much bigger than just yourself and being a part of a team,” said Morrison.