JEANETTE: Hello and welcome to the first episode of our brand new podcast! We`re starting with one of the best mushers in the world. He won the Iditarod 4 times and broke the record 2 times. When he's not training or racing with his dogs, he is sharing his philosophy on how to build a team with everything from athletes to business leaders, and today he will share it with you – Dallas Seavey, all the way from Alaska – welcome to Norway!
DALLAS: I'm happy to be here in Norway once again. I've raced the Finnmark now twice and over the last two years I think I have been in Norway about five months. Mostly of course for the races but also coming over in the fall and preparing things or like now – coming over for a visit!
JEANETTE: Dogs have been a big part of your life, as far as I know since you were a kid?
DALLAS: My family has been mushing for 55 years now. It started with grandfather moving to Alaska because he was interested in sleddogs and the Alaskan way of life. It was supposed to be a couple of years, but he got hooked, and sleddogs have been a big part of my family's life ever since. I was born into a kennel of mini dogs, so all of my memories are around sleddogs, my earliest memories with sleddogs. That has been my life, yes.
JEANETTE: But you started doing a totally different sport when you were younger, you did wrestling?
DALLAS: Yeah, I wrestled for about seven years where that was my main focus. That is also something both my dad and grandpa had done. That was my experience as human athlete which I think has really been helpful in many ways to be more of what I consider is a coach – teaching athletes, which in this case is dogs. In a 1000 mile race the human has to be a part of that team and be an athlete as well, but our main value is supporting the dogs so that they can perform at their best. It is about developing a team that will do anything for you. I would not say make them do something for you, but make them a part of the team, and whatever that team does, we do it wholeheartedly and together. That is very important.
A sleddog is very much a pack animal. They rely on the security and the strength of a pack and they need to feel secure in that pack and they need to feel that if we’re gonna run out into a blizzard or cross a big river, og through deep snow, they’re never doing it alone. Even if they are the leader they know the rest of the team is right behind them and they’re gonna help them through this. At the core of how do you get the dog team or any dog to do what you want or to do it whole heartedly with you. It comes down to trust. It comes down to them knowing that you are never gonna ask the dog or dog team to do something that they can not do well. And I don’t mean just accomplish the task, but do it well and have fun doing it. Thats based on trust and a lifetime of teaching them that this is going to be fun, we are going to do it together and Im nevver going to ask you to do something you cant do.
JEANETTE: What do you do to build that confidence and when do you start?
DALLAS: It absolutely starts as a puppy. Every interaction you have with that dog form day one you're teaching them something, whether it is continuously or whether you are aware of that you are teaching them something, they are learning from every interaction with you, so it is important that every interaction is the right kind of interaction.
As a person you can’t fake that. You have to become the person you want to be. You can’t pretend to be in a certain way or pretend that you are honest or trustworthy. You just can’t do that every single day. And dogs will see through any act so that really needs to be your personality or your character.
But in the beginning we’re training Superman. That’s what I tell every handler we have working there. We’re training Superman with that meaning that we are training this dog to be invincible. To be able to do anything. The secret is to show them that they can do a