LAKEVILLE — Mushing is in Chloe and Carlie Beatty’s blood, just as running and pulling sleds is in their dogs’ blood.
The 17-year-old Lakeville twins had hoped to compete in a local race this winter – the Wakiyan Hinhan Dog Derby on the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Reserve – but the race was canceled last week.
Instead, Chloe and Carlie will have to hold on for the Dogsled Loppet in Minneapolis, which falls on Super Bowl Sunday this year. The twins’ family keeps 14 Alaskan huskies – three are puppies, two are retired or about to retire, and the others are constantly eager to race.
Chloe and Carlie may not even be able to buy lottery tickets yet, but they are experienced mushers. They have been in love with all things dog sledding since elementary school and have been finishing races at the front of the pack since they were 14 years old.
One day they would like to participate in the Iditarod, a long-distance sled dog race that spans the entire state of Alaska, from Settler’s Bay to Nome. In 2015, the sisters had to do the ceremonial 11-mile ride from the Iditarod, and they’ve wanted to come back ever since. Competitors must be at least 18 years old, however, and Chloe and Carlie have their sites set up in college before Iditarod dreams come true.
High school students do not yet know where they will go to university, but one thing is certain: it is better to spend the winter there.
“I want to go somewhere where I can still boil,” Chloe said. “And we really want to do the Iditarod one day.”
“We absolutely want to get to Nome,” added Carlie, referring to the location of the Iditarod finish line.
Not only do the twins love mushing, but they share a special bond with their huskies.
Over the New Years weekend, when the temperatures dropped below zero, they took the dogs for a nighttime walk on the trail through the woods in their backyard, then set up the winter tent and camped near the dogs’ houses.
Unlike most people, dogs love subzero weather, Cheri said. They are definitely happiest running around in the cold because they are raised that way.
“This breed of dog was developed for cold weather and speed,” Cheri said. “They not only want to run, but shoot something. They are working dogs.
Two of the family’s racing dogs are now retired, even after fun runs. Cheri said she felt especially bad for Hamilton, who is 13 and still wants to race but has arthritis and can’t take the strain on his body.
Carlie and Chloe alternate the dogs they use when they run, but one thing is for sure: the dogs that get left behind are always jealous.
When the couple enter the kennel in harnesses, the dogs go wild – barking, jumping, howling, standing on their houses. It’s as if they were all shouting, “Choose me!” Choose me!”
“I love being around them. They make me smile,” Chloe said.
“They work so hard on the track,” added Carlie.