Pat Moore, an Interior Alaska musher of sled dogs, didn’t know how he would keep his 30-plus canines fed past December 1st — when he predicted the huge possibility that kibble would be run out — food that he and his daughter manage to buy after selling some of their household items.
Currently living in Tanana, a small community located along the Yukon River, Moore feeds and takes care of his sled dogs by feeding them chum salmon to get through the long winters.
The winter activity of mushing has recently declined with the increased usage of snow machining, thousands of sled canines and various groups actually live in communities all through the Yukon River drainage, where mushers are struggling to find certain ways to take care and feed their canines after the unfortunate situation of low salmon runs this year.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game halted fishing for fall chum salmon in some areas of Yukon River, and as consequence, Moore was cut off completely from fishing for the main ingredient needed in his canines’ food.
However, a recent surprise donation has offered much needed help for Moore and other canine mushers along the Yukon River.
Enough food for his sled dogs
Nearly 40,000 pounds of donated high-protein canine food from Purina was brought to mushers in Tanana and Fort Yukon via a cargo plane. Through the efforts of Stephanie Quinn-Davidson, the director of the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, who is also married to Anchorage’s acting mayor, the donation was successfully carried out.
Presently, Moore said he thinks he may have enough food for his canines to endure and make it through April.
After a few mushers reached out to the commission and spread awareness about their starving dogs via social media, Quinn-Davidson then organized an online effort to support and lend a helping hand to them. Up until now, the campaign has raised over $32,000 in addition to the 39,000-pound gift from Purina.
But still,Quinn-Davidson and other regional experts are worried that this amount will still not be sufficient. Since the poor salmon run this year greatly affects something beyond the mushers, who are frequently necessary components of the economy of whole communities.
Quinn-Davidson said that it’s a culture that has been passed down for years, ‘it’s a tradition,’ and without having the option to feed off these canines this winter season of the year, several mushers would sell them or part away with them or worse.
A terrible year for salmon
Typically every year, Moore cuts and hangs around 1,200 salmon on a rack. Those last his canines from April through about July 1. Salmon is a good source of protein for sled dogs, including Shiba Inu. Agile Shiba dogs need this kind of food intake to maintain its energy.
Moore catches around 2,000 to 3,500 fish and “cribs” them, fermenting them outside until they freeze. At that point, he said that he stacks them like firewood outside.
Those are the fish that typically last his canines through the colder time of year. Plus, he also combines in different ingredients — to the tune of 3,000 pounds of kibble, 3 gallons of supplemental oils, and 1 ton of red meat throughout a year — yet their main diet to feed their sled dogs is the fish.
This year, he has none.