FEATURE Over 100 Arctic dogs line up in first dog sled race of the season

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Over 100 Arctic dogs from around the country have participated, over the weekend, in Ciumani commune in Harghita County, in the first dog sled race of the season, the competition being highly appreciated by the dozens of spectators.

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Over 100 Arctic dogs line up in first dog sled race of the season

FEATURE Over 100 Arctic dogs line up in first dog sled race of the season — http://goo.gl/bbdR66

Posted by AGERPRES News Agency on Sunday, 17 January 2016

Since the morning, dogs of the Alaskan Malamute, Siberian Husky and the Samoyed breeds showed their eagerness to race, and their joy was even greater seeing their handlers or mushers preparing their harnesses and sleds.

The course, set up on the edge of the Ciumani commune was pretty easy, and the 28 teams traveled different distances depending on the number of dogs. Even if the longest course didn't exceed ten kilometers, some of the mushers were hindered by the fact that ice-covered portions existed on the course.

Tibor Bencze of Miercurea Ciuc, one of the veterans of such competitions in Romania, had a few mishaps on the course, one of which resulted in one of the brakes for his sled becoming undone, but admits that despite the inconvenience, the eight dogs that he took to the race, most of them Siberian Huskies, were very glad to participate in the first race of the year.

"The course was very hard, not because of the length or the terrain, but because there is little snow and there are portions with water and ice. We are used to falling, but when the snow is high the falls are bearable, whereas on ice it tends to get very tough. The dogs felt well because we have finally come to compete, it being the second time this winter when we're sledding because there was no snow, not even for practice, so they're happy," said Tibor Bencze.

He claims he is competing purely for pleasure, without many ambitions of climbing a rung of the podium, and that he cannot envisage his life without the dogs he loves and cherishes as if they were family members.

Another renowned mushed is Zoltan Parajdi of Miercurea Ciuc, who also competed in the event with and eight-dog sled, all Siberian Huskies, and who managed to finish the course with no incidents. He mentioned that the lack of snow canceled the first event of the year in Baile Tusnad and determined some of the mushers to climb to the mountains with the dogs in order to train.

"As for training, we're training since December at high altitudes, at 1,400 — 1,800 meters, where there is enough snow. It's harder now than it was 10 — 15 years ago, because the snow is no longer predictable. It will snow half a meter to a meter and in a week it will melt due to the heat. It's no longer as it was before, when from the mid-November to mid-March we'd have snow. Now it snows, then it melts, so we cannot have a long-term training plan," said Zoltan Parajdi.

This year, as a national premiere, the Ciumani competition saw the presentation to the wider public of two Greenland dogs (also known as the Esquimaux breed), co-owned by architect Razvan Barsan of Bucharest, a sledding afficionado, and Rica Grosu and Mariana Vrabie of Balan, known Malamute breeders and some of the best mushers in Romania.

Razvan Barsan stated for AGERPRES that he changed three planes and three trains in order to get north of the Arctic Circle and bring back Sky, a Greenland dog several months old, to join Siera, a female of the same breed brought by Rica Grosu from Germany.

"I changed three planes and three trains in order to bring Sky from the Arctic Circle, and the female — Siera — was brought from Germany. They are the first Greenland dogs in Romania, we are co-owners. They are special because no others exist in Romania, there are few other [breeds] that are smarter and better for sledding, they are agile and we have noticed in international competitions that they do their job very well," said Razvan Barsan.

Mariana Vrabie, a Malamute breeder with extensive experience mentioned that it is a dream come true to have Greenland dogs after seeing them in international competitions in the past years.

"It's a dream we've had for a long time, since we started attending international championships. We've seen Greenland dogs competing in the same category with Alaskan Malamutes and Samoyeds and the podium always featured the Samoyeds and the Greenland dogs. For me, Greenland dogs are an object of study, a curiosity. Now, them being young, 4-5 months, they seem far more receptive than Malamute pups and far more agile. We have high expectations from the, it is a dream to have more and more and we're waiting for them to be healthy, to take them to shows, have them judged and then have the pups we so eagerly expect," Mariana Vrabie revealed.

Even if they did not take part in the competition, the two Greenland dogs represented an attraction for spectators, especially given their liveliness and outgoing behaviour.

The Ciumani Competition was the first in the competition calendar of the year and will be followed by similar competitions to be held in Borsec, Lacu Rosu, but also in locations in Cluj and Suceava counties. AGERPRES

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