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Dog pulling contests catching on fast
Watching dogs compete to pull heavy weight sleds is as much fun as watching tractor pulls, say advocates of the latest new spectator sport to hit North America.
Since the first dog pulling contest just a few years ago, dog pulling has caught on all over the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Some meets offer up to $8,000 in prize money.
The dogs, which are divided into weight classes, pull a weighted cart or sled (during winter) over a 16-ft. long course. The dogs have 1 minute to start the cart moving or they're disqualified. Owners keep adding 100-lb. weights, such as sacks of dog food or rolls of tarpaper, until there's a winner in each weight class.
Clint Boyer, Lloydminster, Sask., got caught up in the excitement of dog pulling a year ago. Boyer has two English mastiffs, a German Shepherd, and a Husky. "Pound for pound, dogs are much stronger than the average person. In a recent pull my 37-lb. Husky called Buster won his division by pulling 1,680 lbs. My 157-lb. English mastiff finished second in the heavyweight division with a 2,580-lb. pull. The biggest dogs (121 lbs. and above) pull up to 5,000 lbs. How much a dog can pull depends on the dog and the training. I've seen dogs in the 61 to 80-lb. weight class beat dogs from the heaviest class. It isn't cruel to the dog because if he doesn't want to pull, he won't."
The pulls are sanctioned by the International Weight Pulling Association. Each pull is governed by a judge, a time keeper, and a sled marshal. Before the competition starts all dogs are weighed. There are six weight divisions - 0 to 35 lbs., 36 to 60 lbs., 61 to 80 lbs., 81 to 100lbsä 101 to 120 lbs, and 121 lbs. and above. The winner of each weight class is determined at the end of the year by averaging a dog's four best pulls. The first place winner gets 5 points and one point for each dog he beats, the second place winner gets four points and one point for each dog he beats, and the third place winner gets three points and one point for each dog he beats.
The U.S., Canada, Mexico and Alaska are each divided into eight different regions. Beginning next year there will be an international "pull-off" in which the regional winner in each weight class will compete against winners from the other regions. The minimum prize will be $13,000.
Pulling dogs are equipped with a specially-made harness connected to a nylon rope "tongue". All carts and sleds must be built according to association specifications.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Clint Boyer, 500148th Ave., Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, Canada S9V 0V8 (ph 306 825-3775 or 306 825-7186).


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1990 - Volume #14, Issue #5