Team Ineka

Sled Dog Songs by Al Magaw

Sled Dog Songs

By Al Magaw

I was interested in watching a group of musicians on TV a while ago, that were able to begin their songs without a countdown to cue the start – When asked how they were able to do that, the trio, all brothers, said they couldn’t explain it, they “just knew when to start playing”. Two or three weeks ago I was talking to a lady that had sung in a choir for years. She said the same people were in the choir year after year and how pleasant it was to share something like that with friends that she had known for so long. She also commented on how this group of singers could start their a-cappela songs with every one starting at the same time without any particular person taking the lead. It made me think of the sing-a-longs in my kennel of alaskan huskies. Somehow they know when a song is about to begin and often they will all start at once with no noticeable cue like a fire or ambulance siren. My yearling belgian shepherd must be picking up on the same cue because she will often start barking a unique bark, moments before the sing-a-long starts.

On the surface, at least, the ability to sense the beginning of the song seems to be a common feature of sled dogs and those humans so fortunate to be in the company of others who are in the same “wave length”. It’s a common happening among northern dog breeds and not very common amongst humans. I have to speculate, again, about shared abilities that humans have left in large part unused, and that the northern breeds have kept well used and fresh. How poor are we for the loss of that “community of minds” and how rich are our canine friends for their perseverance of that ability?


Al Magaw is a musher from Salmo, BC. Al keeps a medium sized kennel of 20 – 45 alaskan huskies as well as several pet dogs of various breeds. Al has been training and racing for the last 33 years. Before becoming involved with sled dogs, Al, along with his family, kept and competed with horses for many years. Al can be reached through his website at Al is a guest blogger for Denver Dog Works and can be reached through our website at

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