Oscar Wilde wrote that "A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing." I must not be so cynical as I sometimes feel, as it occurred to me that when people ask me the price of a sled dog from top-of-the game lines, I don't have a clue how to answer. All of my dogs came to me as rescues, as gifts or as the progeny from my own breeding, so I've never had to pay a direct price to purchase a sled dog.
I'm not a racer and in all truth I'm a relatively casual recreational musher. I run sled dogs because I love spending time in the woods with dogs, and I love training and working with the dogs. As far as I'm concerned every dog in my team is priceless, even those who are retired. As far as I'm concerned, for the purpose of cruising around in the woods every single one of my dogs is perfect. We are well suited for each other.
Racing, especially in this modern day and age, is a highly competitive game in which success demands the best possible dogs, trained to the highest possible degree by a musher who has the closest possible bond with his or her team. One can't compete against the likes of Lance Mackey, Hans Gatt, Mitch Seavey, Martin Buser or many others at the peak of their game unless everything about your team is just perfect - including the genetics of your dogs.
Of course, Jeff King has been competing rather successfully at that level, and he's well noted for breeding, raising and training truly exceptional racing sled dogs. Now, with the end of the season combined with his announced retirement, we have an opportunity to learn the price of top-of-the-line sled dogs. Jeff is offering several of his dogs for sale, advertising them on his Husky Homestead blog.
At the top of his page is a dog named Call, a 6 1/2 year old "A" team Iditarod finisher, who sold for $2,000.00. Proven performers from Dave DeCaro's "B" team are running between $750.00 and $1,000.00 each. The best deal of the bunch is a pregnant female named Schilling. Jeff is asking $1500.00 for her AND her entire litter, but notes that he would prefer to keep her until she has whelped and the puppies are roughly 8 to 9 weeks old. If I were interested in racing long distances competitively I think I'd probably have to jump all over that deal. It shows that Jeff is concerned about proper puppy rearing, even for puppies he doesn't plan to keep.
There is a fun note for a young pup named Ringer (aka "Snowflake"). Apparently Ringer was trained with Donna's border collies to run agility, at the age of 10 weeks. Talk about bringing along a puppy mentally and psychologically as well as physically - there's a good example.
I enjoyed reading Jeff's blog post this evening. I learned some things and saw some photos of some great looking canine athletes. I hope you enjoy it as well.