TSA Advent Calendar: Day 20

The snow has started to fall and I have the perfect subject for today’s TSA Advent: Huskies!

As a videogame website, TSA has probably seen Huskies feature more prominently in its articles than most other gaming sites. And for today’s Advent I’m going to bring a little more Husky magic to the site in the form of a lesson. With a nice little twist at the end to get everyone talking.

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So, the lesson: The Anatomy of a Sled Dog Team.

When I talk of Huskies I am usually referring to the Siberian Husky breed as they are my favourite, but “Husky” is also a more general term for sled dogs. If you see a Husky that looks more like a Hound, then you know it’s a cross built for speed. Whereas an over-sized Husky may well be an Alaskan Malamute cross, designed to increase the raw power of the dogs. All of the various breeds and breeding go in to making the ultimate sled dogs, but we’re here to learn about not the doggy anatomy, but the anatomy of the team itself.

First up, we have the Lead Dog, or dogs as is becoming more common. These dogs are responsible for setting the pace and listening to the instructions of the Musher.  They are at the head of the team, the furthest away from the Musher, so this takes some skill on their part.  They also have to sniff out the trail and keep the whole team on track. A good lead dog is incredibly important as without one the team may wander off a snowy trail and get lost. There are many tales of lead dogs saving a team by steering around dangerous, brittle ice and other obstacles. Not every dog wants to lead though, as some prefer to follow, and because of this the lead dog is usually the most intelligent and unflappable of dogs.

Directly behind the Lead Dogs are the Swing Dogs. Primarily they have the job of helping “swing” the team round turns or curves, effectively helping to communicate to the rest of the team the lead dog’s wishes. Good swing dogs always have your back and will follow a good leader’s…lead.

After the swing dogs come the Team Dogs. These are like the team powerhouse. Freed from the trickier decisions the lead dog has to make, and following the swing dogs, they churn up mile after mile of snow without complaint. You can’t get anywhere without good team dogs and some would say they are the most vital component.

Finally, right in front of the sled – and those dangerous sled runners – are the Wheel Dogs. They need a good, calm temperament so as not to be put off by the proximity of those runners, and they often need to be intelligent to avoid the ganglines when making turns. However, wheel dogs are usually the biggest, most powerful dogs in the team. They won’t budge until the Musher gives the command, but when they do they generate awesome power when getting the sled moving.

An interesting lesson, to be sure. If, like me, you’re a bit mental, you’ll now by trying to work out which videogame characters would fit best into which section of a sled dog team. You are mental like me, right? You’ve seen my Kasabian SingStar vid, haven’t you?

Bah! Anyway, let’s hear ’em: Your videogame character Sled Dog teams.

Happy Christmas!

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