Trainer starts her own sled dog team

By Holly Dabb Pinedale Roundup Via Wyoming News Exchange

PINEDALE – “It’s addicting!”
Riding on the back of a sled, hundreds of miles, in any type of weather, may not be on everyone’s bucket list, but for musher Gwenn Bogart, it’s what she lives for.
“On the back of a sled, you get to call the shots,” Bogart said. “After five years I still learn something new every time I go out.”
The road to Wyoming for the musher was unusual. Bogart grew up in Vermont and worked with horses. “I felt like I needed to do something else,” she said.
“When I moved to Alaska I found dogs give back to you emotionally,” Bogart said. “Horses are rewarding, but nothing like a dog.”
Bogart and her husband David met in Alaska where he worked as a pilot for Fed Ex and they married in 2012. She also started mushing in 2012 with a leased and trained dog team.
In 2015 she ran the Iditarod, but had to turn back on the third leg. “It was too cold and I didn’t pack enough food for the extreme temperatures,” Bogart said.
After a few years in Wasilla, Alaska, that area seemed unsafe with several home invasions. It was time to get back to the lower 48. She had been to the Jackson area on vacation, but the housing in the area was unreasonably expensive. When they started looking for a place, a realtor heard of the 35-acre parcel on Big Sandy. It was perfect, affordable, remote and complete with an airstrip that allows them to land their airplane.
She wanted the joy of starting and training her own team. She purchased three male huskies and three female huskies. It wasn’t long before she had two more large litters of puppies and a problem.
A kennel with 22 dogs – six original huskies, 13 pups, two border collies and a wiener dog named Frank – needs a conditional use permit in Sublette County. She applied to the Sublette County Commission and received a permit at the Nov. 21, 2017, meeting.
Located at 72 East Fork Rd., also known as County Road 23-133, Bogart works daily training her future team at her remote home, with the nearest neighbor 35 acres away.
Even though there is distance between her and the neighbors, Bogart tries to be a good neighbor and keeps the noise down. “It does travel,” she said.
There, she built kennels, complete with tethers that let the older dogs run and exercise, even before the home for herself and husband was completed. “We lived in a fifth-wheel for seven months,” Bogart explained. Only in the past month did they complete the construction of two yurts, round homes with layers of fabric for walls and a roof.
The yurts are less expensive to build than a stick-built home, she explained. The yurts also enabled them to complete construction more quickly.
Starting at 6 months old, the pups’ training begins. She will pair a puppy with an older dog for short runs of 1 to 2 miles.
She will also study their temperaments. “You can’t have an aggressive dog on the trail,” she said. “Everyone’s got to get along.”
“Dogs are like people,” Bogart compares. “Some are outgoing; they always want to go forward,” Those types of dogs will make the best team leaders, Bogarts said. A good lead dog will use its nose to find trails left by previous teams.
“It’s in their DNA; you can’t make a dog pull on a harness.” Bogart said. “A good team has several lead dogs to rotate them through and give them a break.”
Despite the number of puppies, Bogart knows all their names and their personalities. “Olive is shy; she stays with me.” Others stay with the pack. Another is really tough.
When asked which is her favorite, Bogart said, “The one I am with at the time.”
Boulder is the perfect place with acres for her dogs and a shared runway for landing and taking off in their plane.
“It’s good to be back in the lower 48 again,” Bogart said. With one daughter in Colorado and another in Vermont, she’s close enough to visit.
“I didn’t want to have this many dogs,” Bogart said. And, as their personalities develop, they will be given jobs; others may be sold.
“I’ve already given away two dogs,” she said. “If they don’t want to run, they won’t have a place in my kennel. They’re basically teenagers right now. We’ll just have to see who wants to do what.”
“I just want to have a quality team,” Bogart said.
Whether she’ll be the one actually mushing, she doesn’t know. “I’m turning 60; I may not be the one able to run them.” 


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