Sled dog season kicks off with howling start in Westbrook

Posted Jan. 08, 2013, at 9:32 a.m.
Lil Stewart's excited sled dogs are restrained from taking off early as the team moves into position at the start of a race held by the New England Sled Dog Club at Sunset Ridge Golf Course in Westbrook on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013.
Robert F. Bukaty
Lil Stewart's excited sled dogs are restrained from taking off early as the team moves into position at the start of a race held by the New England Sled Dog Club at Sunset Ridge Golf Course in Westbrook on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013. Buy Photo
Lucky Carter of Penacook, N.H., gets a fast ride throughout the woods during a junior three-dog race Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013, at the New England Sled Dog Races in Westbrook.
Robert F. Bukaty
Lucky Carter of Penacook, N.H., gets a fast ride throughout the woods during a junior three-dog race Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013, at the New England Sled Dog Races in Westbrook. Buy Photo
A Eurohound, a cross-breed of an Alaskan husky and a pointer, waits for race time inside a dog box on top of pickup truck owned buy the Szegvari racing family from Carlisle, Mass., on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013, at the New England Sled Dog Races in Westbrook.
Robert F. Bukaty
A Eurohound, a cross-breed of an Alaskan husky and a pointer, waits for race time inside a dog box on top of pickup truck owned buy the Szegvari racing family from Carlisle, Mass., on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013, at the New England Sled Dog Races in Westbrook. Buy Photo
Race dogs beg for attention while waiting to compete, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013, at the New England Sled Dog Races in Westbrook.
Robert F. Bukaty
Race dogs beg for attention while waiting to compete, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013, at the New England Sled Dog Races in Westbrook. Buy Photo
Clothes pins marked with the names of sled dogs are used to arrange a roster for a team competing in races held by the New England Sled Dog Club at Sunset Ridge Golf Course in Westbrook on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013.
Robert F. Bukaty
Clothes pins marked with the names of sled dogs are used to arrange a roster for a team competing in races held by the New England Sled Dog Club at Sunset Ridge Golf Course in Westbrook on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013. Buy Photo
Retired sled dog Tucker (right) a Labrador/husky/pointer mix, and Chooch, a chihuahua/dachshund mix watch the the competitors prepare for the races Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013, at the New England Sled Dog Races in Westbrook. They belong to racer Meg Mizzoni of Carlisle, Mass.
Robert F. Bukaty
Retired sled dog Tucker (right) a Labrador/husky/pointer mix, and Chooch, a chihuahua/dachshund mix watch the the competitors prepare for the races Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013, at the New England Sled Dog Races in Westbrook. They belong to racer Meg Mizzoni of Carlisle, Mass. Buy Photo
There's excitement on the eyes of Braden Daigneault's dogs at the start of a race, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013, at the New England Sled Dog Club's season opener in Westbrook. The Daigneault racing family is from of Waterboro, Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty
There's excitement on the eyes of Braden Daigneault's dogs at the start of a race, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013, at the New England Sled Dog Club's season opener in Westbrook. The Daigneault racing family is from of Waterboro, Maine. Buy Photo
A musher heads out at the start of race while spectators watch from the clubhouse at the Sunset Ridge Golf Course in Westbrook on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013. The sled dog races were part of the Winter West Festival.
Robert F. Bukaty
A musher heads out at the start of race while spectators watch from the clubhouse at the Sunset Ridge Golf Course in Westbrook on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013. The sled dog races were part of the Winter West Festival. Buy Photo
Junior musher Judd Bell races through the woods with his four-dog team during a race held by the New England Sled Dog Club at Sunset Ridge Golf Course in Westbrook on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013.
Robert F. Bukaty
Junior musher Judd Bell races through the woods with his four-dog team during a race held by the New England Sled Dog Club at Sunset Ridge Golf Course in Westbrook on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013. Buy Photo
Kelley McGrath of Tamworth, N.H., competes in the two-dog skijoring race sponsored by the New England Sled Dog Club at Sunset Ridge Golf Course in Westbrook on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013. The sled dog races were part of the Winter West Festival.
Robert F. Bukaty
Kelley McGrath of Tamworth, N.H., competes in the two-dog skijoring race sponsored by the New England Sled Dog Club at Sunset Ridge Golf Course in Westbrook on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013. The sled dog races were part of the Winter West Festival. Buy Photo
Emily Golomb of New Hampshire crashes coming out of a sharp first turn at the start of a  a race held by the New England Sled Dog Club at Sunset Ridge Golf Course in Westbrook on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013.
Robert F. Bukaty
Emily Golomb of New Hampshire crashes coming out of a sharp first turn at the start of a a race held by the New England Sled Dog Club at Sunset Ridge Golf Course in Westbrook on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013. Buy Photo
Sarah Vanderwood of Oxford kicks to assist her four-dog team as they head for the finish line in a race held by the New England Sled Dog Club at Sunset Ridge Golf Course in Westbrook on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013.
Robert F. Bukaty
Sarah Vanderwood of Oxford kicks to assist her four-dog team as they head for the finish line in a race held by the New England Sled Dog Club at Sunset Ridge Golf Course in Westbrook on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013. Buy Photo
WESTBROOK, Maine — The sound of the howling hounds made it seem like the Sunset Ridge Golf Club was hosting a fox hunt, not sled dogs races. Where were the thick-furred Alaskan huskies?
It turns out mushers who compete in sprint races have learned long ago that by breeding the German short-hair pointer with the husky you get a web-footed dog built for speed on the snow. The resulting dog, known as a Eurohound, looks like it can’t possibly be warm — but, wow, are they fast!
About 45 teams of sprint dogs pulled mushers and skijorers, or racers wearing skis, over a five-mile course in the New England Sled Dog Club’s season opener last weekend.

The race wasn’t even scheduled, but thanks to the plentiful snow and a team of volunteers led by snow groomers from the Westbrook Trailblazers Snowmobile Club, the race came together in just three days.

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