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Idaho mushers train for Sled Dog Challenge

Races at McCall Winter Carnival
Posted: 5:32 PM, Jan 15, 2020
Updated: 2020-01-15 19:56:11-05

DONELLY, IDAHO — Chantelle Chase is training for the upcoming Sled Dog Challenge at the McCall Winter Carnival.

When they are waiting to run, her dogs make a lot of noise. But when she gives the command, they focus nearly all of that energy on what they were born to do -- run.

But the dogs aren't the only ones working. "You have to be pretty fit," said Chase. "A lot of Iditarod mushers do triathlons in the summer."

Chase admits she's not one of those. She is very focused on the sport that has fascinated her since childhood. "My mom asked me what I wanted to be when I was three or four years old. I told her I wanted to be a musher and move to Alaska."

Now she is one of four Idaho mushers with teams running in McCall at the end of the month.

Another is Kevin Daugherty. This will be his first time competing in a sport he and his dogs love.

"They work incredibly hard for ya," said Daugherty. "And they just don't stop. They have the biggest heart you can imagine."

Chase Agrees. "They are willing to move heaven and earth for you, to go."

And that bond is part of what you might call a lifelong obsession.

"I was dog free for two years," she said. "And I kinda joke that that was the worst two years of my life, but you know, unlike snow machines, dogs will keep you warm if things get brutal out there. Snow machines, you can't curl up with and keep warm if they break down."

And unlike snow machines, the harder they are working the more they and their mushers enjoy the ride.

"There's nothin' more free than bein' out here just with the dogs," said Daugherty. "Not very noisy and it's incredible what these dogs can do."

Daugherty says his dogs would literally give it all for him, but he would never ask them to do more than they can handle. "There's a lot of trust I think on both ends of it."

And you can see the fascinating results of that bond at the McCall Winter Carnival January 29 through 31.