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A student is pulled in both directions by sled dogs that don’t resemble typical huskies because they are Alaskan huskie/Eurodogs. During the Minds in Motion class, sixth-graders at the Henry W. Moore School in Candia are currently learning about the Iditarod races. (Leslie Thomas Photo)

Mush! - Sixth-graders get a visit from Iditarod racer

CANDIA - What kid could possibly pass up a chance to ride on a dog sled? For that matter, what adult could?

So, when Moore School teacher Judi Lindsey had a chance to bring an official musher to her 57 sixth-graders, she grabbed the opportunity.

Lindsey has always loved dogs and snow, and said she has always been fascinated with working dogs and their relationship with their owners.

Tom DiMaggio, a musher for 40 years and owner of Anuska Kennels brought two of his Alaskan husky/Eurohound dogs in to visit Lindsey&#';s Minds in Motion class.

DiMaggio opened his visit on Dec. 6 by telling the children they would take a ride on a dog sled. Before the students could point out that there was no snow outside, he put on a video for the children to feel the dog sledding experience.

DiMaggio explained the differences between an average race and the Iditarod race.

&#';The Iditarod teams start with 12 dogs and the lead dogs are always the smartest ones,&#'; he said. &#';That particular race runs 8 to 10 mph, while other races will run 18 to 20 mph. The Iditarod will run consistently for 100 or so miles while others race three days at 8 miles a day.&#';

He explained that average mushers have been known to hallucinate during the long ordeal of the Iditarod.

&#';A normal rest period for a musher in a day is typically two hours, if he/she gets that,&#'; he said.
DiMaggio stressed two important rules for mushers &#-;never let go of the sled, and the dogs always come first.

After the video, DiMaggio brought in two racing dogs named Pounder and Mia, along with a racing dog sled that he personally hand-built for the students to examine.

The sixth-graders have been researching facts, and meet twice a week for eight weeks.

&#';It&#';s exciting, and the kids totally love the theme of the project!&#'; said Lindsey. &#';Students will come to me in the halls and tell me what they&#';re working on.&#';

Some of the projects they will work on are a school blog site, a hands-on project, and a bulletin board with photographs and their research information.

Student Lauren Trippiedi said, &#';I&#';m actually working on a Legos dog sled scene for my project, and I also created a PowerPoint presentation which I attached music. I had a lot of fun doing it!&#';
Lindsey hopes to extend the unit by getting in touch with five mushers who may email her class and relay their specific GPS coordinates during the race in Alaska March 3 and 4. The students will then be able to track each musher and pinpoint their locations on a map.
To follow the class project, you can visit