While most Canadians have probably raced a toboggan down a snowy hill or tried their hand at skiing, the winter sport of dog mushing remains somewhat of an enigma.
In Underdog, musher Yuka Honda takes on the “world’s toughest dog sled race” — the Yukon Quest. Yuka is hoping to prove that she can outlast the big, burly men who frequent the sport in this 1,000-mile race, which runs between Whitehorse, Yukon and Fairbanks, Alaska.
For those who think they’re ready to try their hand at dog mushing, here are some key terms and commands you should know before hopping on the back of a dog sled:
Lead dog or leader — The dog that runs in front of others. Must be smart and quick.
Swing dog — The dogs that run directly behind the leader. Their job is to 'swing' the team during turns or curves.
Wheel dog or wheelers — The dogs that are placed directly in front of the sled. Their job is to pull the sled out and around corners or trees.
Snow or ice hook — A heavy metal hook that anchors the sled in the snow in order to hold the team in place for a short period of time.
Gee — Command for right turn.
Haw — Command for left turn.
Come gee! Come haw! — Command for 180-degree turns in either direction.
Line out! — Command for lead dog to pull the team out straight from the sled (mostly used when hooking or unhooking dogs).
Mush! Let's go! All right! Hike! — Various commands to get the dog team going.
Trail! — Shouted to oncoming mushers or snowmobile users to request right-of-way on the trail.
Whoa! — Command used to halt the team.