Friday, February 27, 2015

The Age of Internet Dog Mushing

" In the name of love... what more than the name of LOVE?"
Lester                                Photo by Julien Schroder

My how times have changed. Not just the weather but how humans communicate with one another. It's sad to say, that though there's a plethora of information being thrown at us on a daily basis, much of it is useless or skewed in a way to promote the writer's viewpoint and not the true heart of the story. In this age of narcissism many of those who are not even involved in the competition use their keyboard so that they may be 'seen'. What history has taught us is that if their words are not questioned and just ignored, men shall use the 'bully pulpit' not only to run roughshod over others, but to gloss over their very own history and 'issues'. 

For the sake of the Iditarod as well as dog mushing I kept quiet and bit my lip when the negative minded armchair mushers unleashed their venom after I was stuck on Golovin Bay for hours in a raging windstorm last year. Did I make mistakes? Sure. Should I have been better prepared? Sure. Did I turn off the spot device? NO. Will I ever trust these instruments or the media again? Never. I love my Dawgs, The Iditarod trail and the dog mushing lifestyle. That is why I am willing to put up with people who have their own agendas and vendettas ripping in to my family name. "Sticks and stones..."

The funny thing about last year's 'reporting' is that when I went to my former competitor's and 'Facebook Friend's' page to see what he had written about me, he had un-friended me.

"Isn't that ironic, don't ya think?"

I think I need to reiterate that I have no hard feelings towards these reporters but am trying to expose them for what they are so that other mushers hopefully won't be attacked in the future.

Approaching Fairbanks on the Chena River 2015 YQ          Photo by S.G.Sea
For those of you who are indoors glued to the screen for hours, day and night, desperately seeking to figure out what is happening out in Alaska's wilderness during our dog mushing races I wish you well. Let's be real though, enjoy the event but why so much negativity? It's a dog race; enjoy the beauty of these amazing canines and the beauty of our beloved Greatland. Do you really have a clue what we're up to? Half the time we are changing our minds as we move on down the trail. Why so much belittling and nitpicking? Perhaps, audiences need to investigate deeper into those writers who are blogging vociferously about what all of us are doing wrong; about what horrible dog caretakers we must be. There's a German word for those who find pleasure in another's misfortune, schadenfreude...
What was the last major race this writer participated in? Who placed in front of them? Who was the real champion of the 2009 Yukon Quest? I might have come in 2nd but our dogs had the fastest time. Hmmm... Mushing is so much more than racing, it's day to day living, and I can assure you Laughing Eyes Kennel's dogs receive more love than most. Mushing for me is about loving my furry compadres not making $ off of them. That's what my mouth is for. It's just too bad that no reporter in years has asked me a question about one of my dogs, it's all about 'racing'...

I could go into detailed stories about THE armchair mushers S. and S.- but what's the point? They are what they are, two peas in a pod, mentor and #1 pupil. The recent Yukon Quest race showed how negativity just grows, typically created by 'holier than thou' armchair mushers spouting off. Is it better to question, or to ignore these men's antics? One must realize that they are getting paid to push others buttons and cause controversy. The audience must always question what they are reading for it is just one person's opinion.

Hopefully folks will seek to promote the positivity of The Iditarod and other mushing events in the future. This year people have been working night and day just to make the race possible, seeking to create a safer route. Let's honor them and the dogs, the native culture and the land. But be aware- if former racers are allowed to use a major venue to promote their views unabated the Heart of Mushing is lost.

God Bless the Greatland as well as The Last Great Race. 
2012 YQ                                                              Photo by Carol Falsetta
Listen, Learn, Live... Hugh H. Neff
BTW we'll be in 'Beast Mode' this year, unless Iditarod rules state that I have to give interviews I will not be dealing with the media. I am glad to answer any questions submitted to me in writing so that I might give a more insightful answer.

Time to FOCUS on the Dawgs... for the next few weeks we'll let them do the talking.


  1. Awesome take! Can't wait for Iditarod Beastmode... Come up with something solid for a deflection catch phrase, how about a Dr. Suess poem, line by line, through the race?

  2. Great post! There are folks in ALL aspects of dog mushing. Some are competitive, some don't care to compete, some run long distances, some short sprints, some run purebreds, some mixed. The sport of dog sledding has taken a big foothold over the last 20 or so years, but is always on shaky ground thanks to animal rights extremists and their blind followers along with shrinking trail systems, etc. When mushers get "catty" (pun intended) toward each other, it only splits the mushing community into smaller groups and hurts our sport and our beloved dogs.

  3. You are to be congratulated for taking the high road. I think most of us understand the media and their need for controversy. What I could not understand though, how in the name of humanity, do you beat up on a man, who nearly froze to death. The dogs are my main concern, and I have supported you in a small way, because I believe you do take good care of them. Mistakes, everybody makes them, but what is a mistake for one, can lead to success for another. I am sorry you will not be giving interviews, as yours are always the most interesting and entertaining. Wishing you the very best.

  4. Hey Hugh Good insite, Keep Kalm & Mush on dear Bubby!

  5. "Beautifully written and "serenely" composed. This is not an easy task. I too, am sorry you will not be giving interviews. From the first time I saw you and heard you in an interview (yes, on the internet), I admired you. I DO hope after the race is completed you will again, be in front of the camera so all of us who look forward to hearing from you, will have that opportunity.
    I am a bit older than you and have learned, sometimes the hard way, the old saying is true. ". . . but, you can't please all the people all of the time."! Please continue to live as I believe you do; by listening to your HEART.
    I wish you a WONDERFUL, SAVE AND SPIRITUAL 2015 run. God Bless and God Speed.

    Ann T. McGinn
    BayLee Rose (my dog-daughter)

  6. I really liked your comment about the dogs because we know that the best mushers are all about their companions and I always want to know what they are like - their personalities and quirks and all the things that make these events a real celebration of our relationship to the non-human world. If we can't hear interviews, I hope we'll be kept up to date with "dog tales from the trail." And good luck to you noble sir. Glad you are rising above the negativity and bringing the true spirit of the wild to all us fans.

  7. What job do you have besides mushing?