The 2019 Midwest Sled Dog Symposium


Saturday, September 28th 2019


Saturday, September 28th 2019

Location: Erickson Center for the Arts. Curtis, Michigan. 

Registration: $40 advanced, $50 day of event. Children under 16 free.  

8:00 - Registration begins.

 9:00 - 9:50 -  Grandma and Grandpa Canine with 14 Young Whippersnappers. Ed Stielstra will present the sometimes comedic adventures regarding the  basics of starting a team, kennel management, and training young dogs. He will share plenty of stories and photos of training his team of feisty one and two year olds with two semi-retired leaders. Ed owns and manages Nature's Kennel Sled Dog Adventures and Racing in McMillan, MI, is an 8 time Iditarod veteran, and openly admits to making every mistake at least once... and sometimes twice.

 10:00 - 10:50 -  Weather Monitoring and Forecasting for Mushers. Beth Carpenter and Joseph "JT" Cooper are co-owners of Thermodynamic Solutions LLC (TDS Weather), a private weather consulting company based out of central Indiana. Beth and JT provide businesses and event organizers with daily forecast products that help keep guests and staff safe and ahead of the weather! In their talk, they'll be discussing basic weather monitoring and forecasting techniques, how they help event organizers, and will be supplying sources of information for archived weather data, ground temperature and moisture readings, lightning mapping, and more to help mushers plan for races and training runs.

10:00 - 10:50 - Effects of incremental conditioning and dietary tryptophan supplementation on the metabolism, body condition, fecal quality and metabolite composition in mid-distance training sled dogs. - James Templeman, MSc. – University of Guelph, Department of Animal Biosciences - James grew up on a hobby farm in the interior of British Columbia, and while his family raised all sorts of animals, the working dogs on the farm were always his favourite. James moved out east to the University of Guelph in 2010 for a bachelor’s degree in Animal Biology and has been there ever since. After completing a master’s degree in Dairy Nutrition, he was lucky enough to meet Dr. Anna-Kate Shoveller, who had just taken on a position as a professor in companion animal nutrition. Kate took James on as her first PhD student and he found his way back to his animal of choice, the working dog. James now works with sled dogs and has presented his research at conferences in Canada, the United States, and abroad.

10:25 - 10:50 - Effects of 12 Weeks of Incremental Conditioning and Supplemental Dietary Tryptophan on Pre, Mid, and Post-Exercise Heart Rate and Respiratory Rate in Sled Dogs Using Real Time Telemetry Technology - Emma Thornton- BScH- University of Guelph - Emma grew up with the dream of attending the University of Guelph in hopes of becoming a veterinarian. She worked in dog kennels, wildlife rehabilitation centers, and even trained sled dogs in the Arctic during her undergrad at Guelph! Emma was set on this path until she met Dr. Anna-Kate Shoveller who opened her eyes to other possibilities. From their first interaction, they both knew a graduate school was the way to go. Due to her love for animals, Emma continued this passion into her Masters where she had the amazing opportunity to study working canines. She is 1 year in and loving every minute of it!

 11:00 - 11:50 - From South Africa to Nome -  Join Gerhardt and Al-Jo Thiart as they recount their sled dog journey from South Africa to Michigan. We will also learn about their future plans of Gerhardt becoming the first South African musher to finish the Iditarod!

11:00 - 11:50​ - The Effect of 12 Weeks of Incremental Conditioning and Supplemental Dietary Tip on Voluntary Activity and Pre and Post Run Behaviours of Mid-Distance Training Sled Dogs . - Eve Robinson, BSc -- University of Guelph.  - Eve moved to Guelph in 2014 to complete her undergraduate degree in Animal Biology and has always known she has wanted to pursue a career working with companion animals. After starting a course-work based masters with Anna-Kate Shoveller, Eve was fortunate enough to join a study working with sled dogs. Soon after, she had the opportunity to extend her MSc into a 2-year thesis program and was able to continue doing what she loves. 

 12:00 - 2:00 - Lunch Break. We will not have lunch for sale at the Erickson Center this year, but there are many restaurants within walking distance.

2:00 - 2:50 - Alaska to the U.P. - Jaimee and Justin High will talk about their adventures during their 10 years living in Alaska, becoming Iditarod veterans, and (most recently) moving to the Upper Peninsula!  Along with running dogs, they also own and operate High's Adventure Gear making dog gear and clothing for extreme people, like mushers.

2:00 - 2:50 - Teacher share session! - Have a lesson you do with your kids or a great activity about dog sledding?! Bring it to share with your fellow teachers and build your resources to help bring the world of dog sledding to your students!

 3:00 - 3:50 - Superdogs Presentation! Join Laura Neese as she introduces 10 of the superdogs that led Blake Freking to a John Beargrease championship in January 2019. Blake trained and raced a team of Nature's Kennel's 2 and 3 year old dogs last winter. The team returned home to McMillan, MI in the spring, and 75% of the dogs that raced with Blake  are now joining Laura's team for the coming winter.  Meet some of the dogs in person and learn about each dogs' history, personality, and race plans for 2020!

 4:00 - 6:00 - Keynote Presentation by Blair Braverman! Sit back for a fun evening with Blair and her husband Quince Mountain as they share stories of their adventures in Alaska during the winter of 2018/2019. On March 17, 2019 Blair crossed under the Burled Arch in Nome, officially becoming an Iditarod veteran. Blair will entertain us with the details of her journey from Mountain, WI to the finish line in Nome.

Ongoing  Throughout  the  Day:  

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  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 throughout Saturday. If you have any mushing related items you’d like to donate, it would be greatly appreciated.   Auction ends at 3:55 pm.​