Young Sled Dogs Get Their Feet Wet At Denali National Park And Preserve

"Clove" is one the three pups in this year's litter at Denali. NPS photo by Jayme Dittmar.

Three of the newest members of the NPS crew at Denali National Park and Preserve are named Prusik, Munter and Clove, and we reported on the birth of the three sled dog pups earlier this summer on the Traveler. The young dogs are doing great and as part of their training, they joined their mom and a ranger in a little exercise that literally let them get their feet wet.

As expected, the three pups are developing their own personalities, and their training as future sled dogs is already underway. Although a winter trip into the park's vast wilderness primarily involves travel over snow and ice, you may be surprised to learn that the dog teams can also encounter some open water. As a result, it's important for the puppies to become comfortable in the water and to learn how to cross streams now so they will be able to charge through similar wet conditions on the trail in winter.

The following video clip includes a brief look at some of this training with the pups, their mother and their handler.

In case you're curious about the names for this year's additions to the kennel, each year's litter of sled dog pups is given a name that relates to the park or to sled dogs in some way. The 2005 litter, for example, was called the "Northern Lights" litter. This year's group is known as the "Climbing Knots" litter, and their names (Prusik, Clove and Munter) are all taken from knots commonly used in climbing and mountaineering.

These young pups certainly score well on the "cuteness scale," and the summer sled dog demonstrations at the park are a big hit with visitors, but it's important to keep in mind that the sled dog program at Denali is also serious business. The trained dog teams and handlers are valuable resources for winter patrols in the park's six-plus million acres, which includes two million acres of wilderness.

You can follow the progress of these young dogs, as well as other activities at the Denali kennels at the "Runnin' with the Kennels" blog, in a series of "Puppy Paws" videos, and by checking out the webcam at the park kennel. You'll find links to all of those sites at this page on the park website.