Mushing and Sled Dogs: The Dynamo at Work

It is a matter of days, just over a hundred miles left, before the first team(s) cross the finish line in Nome, Alaska to close the 2013 Iditarod. I would be so lucky if at one point in my life I could witness such an awesome event, not to mention dreaming of actually racing. As I awake from that dream, I can’t help but look at mushing and sled dog dynamics from an NDT lens. To revisit Kevin’s concept of the dynamo (i.e., in order of the Pipe, the Battery, and then the Dynamo), catch a recap here and here. I found a really nice photo of a mushing pack that depicts a breakdown of the different parts of a sled dog team.


If you break down each grouping of dogs, it comes back to the NDT discussion about default temperamental settings. Each individual dog, corresponding their grouping, plays a role in the overall group. No single dog or group in the mushing unit assumes an alpha or dominant role/unit; rather, each dog is aligned according to its designated setting or temperamental skill-set.  You can see that there are two parallel lines of dogs and as it states in the photo there are one or two point dogs.

I have two specific observations to point out: 1) the polarities of the dogs are synced on a number of axis including linear/tandem (e.g. dogs connected side by side and from front to back and back to front) as well as circular (i.e. the emotional energy of the whole group is cyclical as each group feeds off the others). The physical center of gravity of each dog fuses with the others to create one essential physical/emotional center of gravity that shifts as the flow pattern of the run grooves into the path – the path becomes the dogs and the dogs become the path. Moreover, the overall path of the unit may appear linear but the energy is virtually, constantly moving in circular fashion. As Kevin has mentioned before, everything is nature is circular when it boils down to it. You could even plot it out here in terms of polarity:

musher polarity

My second observation hones in on the human. In NDT we become the “moose”, the midpoint, the object of attraction that our dog becomes most highly connected with, overcoming the path of highest resistance in order to resolve stress and access the emotional network with us and through us. I’m curious if in the mushing context the human can remain the midpoint at the rear position – can the midpoint exist from behind as the overall prey-drive of all the dogs is flowing “away” from the handler? Or could this be an example of connection through flipped polarity (i.e. the human is assuming the predatory aspect but the dogs are still connected to him by virtue, again, of their temperamental setting being working dogs in this context). Or is this really not an issue of physical position, debunking the notion of hierarchy and more about energetic order and alignment through the emotional conductivity that mushing as a whole provides. I’m obviously leaning toward that last part. Look again at the photo above of the dogs – the musher sets into the motion the flow of the group and fine tunes through command as the group of dogs work together in the “hunt.” What you see is essentially an electric generator. You can also see how the human might even resemble the virtual battery from which drive/emotion flows through the pipe (i.e. the lines of dogs).

I could be way off, lol.

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