Midwest Sled Dog Symposium and Teacher Conference

2018 SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:   Click here for a printable version.

Friday, September 28th, 6 pm.  Dinner with Laura Neese, Mark Neese and Jim Levline. Hear the tales of the 2018 Yukon Quest Trail from both  musher and handler perspectives.  Location: Erickson Center for the Arts, dinner catered by Chamberlin’s Ole Forest Inn.  Pre-Registration required, $40. 

Saturday, September 29th, Midwest Sled Dog Symposium and Teacher’s Conference   Location: Erickson Center for the Arts, Curtis, Michigan.  $45 advanced registration, $55 day of event.  Children under 16 free.  Registration begins at 7:30 am. 

 8:30-10  Jan Bootz-Dittmar and Melissa Omernick share their enthuasim for all things sled dogs.  Topics will range from puppy raising, to beginning mushing, to becoming mushing, skijor and bikejor champions.  These are two of our favorite mushers from Wisconsin and they never fail to entertain us with a good laugh and great information.  Erickson Center Auditorium.

 8:30-10   Stretch Your Dog to the Finish with Liz Fuess, principal researcher and lead veterinary technician with Mars Pet Foods. Musculoskeletal injuries are common in all of the performance dog segments, including sled dogs.  Regardless of the activity, dogs in performance sports require proper management practices to remain healthy. Liz’s presentation will provide information on the physiological cycle of restricted mobility; how it starts and why it can seem unending.  In addition, the presentation will include how the use of stretching can decrease injuries and aid post-race recovery. The presentation will also include a short demonstration on how to perform common stretches on your dog that may be a beneficial to help get your team to the finish line.  This session will be shared with Russ Kelly, Service, Working & Sporting Dog Research Manager with Royal Canin.  Russ’ lecture will offer guidance on the nutritional progression and the management of training platforms during the transition from puppy to working adult.  Performance at an elite level is not only a result of genetic selection, but also a combination of proper development, optimal nutrition, and targeted training.. Lower Level Classroom #1

 8:30-10 All Things Mushing…for Teachers.  At 8:30 am this session will get kicked off with a Skype interview with Terry Lynn Johnson, author of Sled Dog School.  Terry is very excited to share her experiences as a musher and author.  The session will then be led by Katie Kunze where teachers will have a round table discussion sharing ideas for incorporating mushing activities into the classroom curriculum.  Lower Level Classroom #2

 10:30-noon  Dr. Kathleen McGill  Dr. McGill has served as a trail veterinarian for the Yukon Quest, Finnmarksløpet, John Beargrease, UP 200, Eagle Cap Extreme and Iditarod. She has served as Head Vet for the Yukon Quest for 8 years (total of 15 on the YQ trail), the International Scandinavian Stage Race, Sweden and is currently Head Vet for the Eagle Cap Extreme, Oregon. She will be returning to the YQ as a 2019 trail vet as well. During her years as Yukon Quest Head Vet she worked to standardized veterinary supply boxes, wrote criteria for qualification as a trail vet, wrote a veterinary standard operating procedure handbook, worked toward standardizing a body condition scoring system for YQ racing sled dogs and musher education.  Erickson Center Auditorium.

10:30-Noon  Art With Anne.  Teacher Anne Clayton has returned with new mushing artwork for us to create!  Anne will instruct artists of all ages and abilities on how to paint their own sled dog masterpiece.  This is a make and take session.  Pre-registration required and additional $20 fee required.   Lower Level Classroom #1.

 10:30-Noon  Taking Vet Checks Into the Classroom with Dr. Tom Gustafson.  Dr. Tom Gustafson will discuss the roles veterinarians play in a dog sled race.  Dr. Tom will demonstrate a simple vet check so teachers can teach their students about vet check procedures and the importance of the veterinarian-musher-dog relationship.  Lower Level Classroom #2

 Noon-1:30 LUNCH.  Boxed lunches (provided by Chamberlin’s) are available for purchase, $15.  There are also many local restaurants open for lunch.
New this year!!  Join Author Pat Moon as he shares and reads from his new book, Max T. Booker. Reading will take place in the main auditorium during the lunch. 

 1:30pm-2:45  Musher Roundtable—Discussing Today’s Critical Questions in our Sport.  Panel participants include an expererienced, diverse and fantastic group of mushers:  Jake Berkowitz, Mike Ellis, Laura Neese and Chad Schouweiler.  Moderator is Ed Stielstra.  Do you have a critical question for our panel?  Is there something you’d like to see them discuss and debate?  Write a question on one of the notecards near the registration table and put it in the box for discussion.  Erickson Center Auditorium.

 1:30pm-2:45   Art With Anne.  This is a repeat of the morning Art With Anne session.  We are offering it twice for those who didn’t want to miss out on a certain session or need more time to finish their work.  Pre-registration required and additional $20 fee required.   Lower Level Classroom #1.


3:00-4:15  Super Dogs with Chad Schouweiler.  Chad Schouweiler is the owner of Otter Run Kennel in Irma, Wisconsin.  Chad and his mom, Martha, operate the kennel together and both have outsanding race records.  The kennel is home to less than twenty dogs but they are four-time Beargrease Mid Distance champions,  have six Apostle Island Race victories, are Gunflint Mail Run champs, and have multiple top three Copper Dog 150 finishes, and are Copper Dog 40 winnners.  Chad and Martha have earned seven best kept team awards.  They will bring most of their entire kennel of Super Dogs for all of us to meet. Erickson Center Auditorium.

 4:30-6 pm.  Keynote Presentation: Mike Ellis, owner of Tsuga Siberians, Faribanks, AK
Mike Ellis has competed in nine Yukon Quests and two Iditarod.  He has set new records in both races for a purebred team of dogs.  Along the way, he has picked up numerous Vet’s Choice awards including the Two Rivers 200, Copper Basin 300, GinGin 200, and the Yukon Quest.  Besides racing, he has done numerous trips with dogteams to Alaska’s Arctic and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.   Tsuga Siberians kennel is based on a philosophy and mantra of ‘Respect your doGs’ and strives to maintain a happy and healthy kennel where doGs can maximize their potential and both work and play hard, but also simply enjoy life. Erickson Center Auditorium.

Ongoing throughout the day:  
Dog Sled Raffle: 
Thanks to Clyde Risdon and Risdon Rigs for his genorisity with the donation of a hand crafted, race ready dog sled.  Raffle tickets are $5 each or 6 for $20. 


Musher’s Yard Sale: Bring any mushing-related items to sell—books, harnesses, gear, sleds, educational materials, etc.  Just no real sled dogs please! Please put your name and a price on your items (anything from books to gear) and take them to the lower level of the Erickson Center.  We will have someone staffing this area all day.

Silent Auction:  Silent Auction items will be available Friday night through Saturday. If you have any mushing related items you’d like to donate, it would be greatly appreciated.   Auction ends at 4:25 pm on Saturday.


Sunday, September 30th , 9-11 am.  Nature’s Kennel Sled Dogs--Kennel Tour.  McMillan.  Free.