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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

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