ST. CLOUD - Some of us may avoid the brutal cold by staying indoors this time of year-but for one Central Minnesota club this is the perfect time to get outside.

The North Star Sled Dog Club is based in Minnesota and often hosts races at Camp Ripley in Little Falls. Bob Bzdok has been involved in the club for over 20 years and says sled dog racing has recently grown and has changed over the years.

"Even though we have a lot of high tech-updated gear and equipment these days than what they had back in the days when dogs were used more for transportation-it's become a very competitive sport," Bzdok says

The North Star Sled Dog Club was founded in the early 1960s. In 1963, they helped organize the first St. Paul Winter Carnival sled dog races.

The group has the continuing goal of promoting the sport of sled dog racing.

"That's basically what our goal is-to educate people about it, introduce them to it and further promote the sport-you're always hoping to improve the competition," Bzdok says.

The group also promotes the welfare of the sled dog. Bzdok says being a sled dog racer is a year-round commitment with taking care of your dogs. One of the keys to success is also training your dogs as a team.

"They all have different personalities, they all have their qualities and they all have things they would care not to do."

The club also hosts races during the winter months in Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota and Manitoba and Ontario in Canada. The North Stars are also always on the lookout for those who are interested in joining the sport.

"If a newcomer walks up to me or anybody else at a race and asks questions-we're going to kind of flood them with information because it's so important to encourage the sport," Bzdok says.

The North Star Sled Dog group will be racing at Camp Ripley in Little Falls for their Winter Warrior Challenge on February 14th-15th.

 

Bob Bzdok wins the 10 dog sprint race in Camp Ripley in 2014. (Dan DeBaun, WJON News)