To develop charitable, educational and benevolent activities dedicated to the enrichment, development, and vitality of communities, natural resources and trail systems in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula through world-class events, creating informational and educational opportunities, encouraging national recognition, specifically with respect to advancing national and international sled dog sports including sled dog racing and an understanding of the historic role of sled dogs in a natural environment.
Hey! Let’s organize a sled dog race!
That’s what a small group of people said in 2009, and from that initial idea the CopperDog 150 and CopperDog 40 sled dog races were born.
Both races usually run the first weekend in March. The CopperDog 150 features teams of ten dogs and covers 150 miles in three days, while the CopperDog 40 features teams of six dogs and covers approximately forty miles in one day. The CopperDog 150 caps at thirty teams and the CopperDog 40 caps at fifteen teams. Which means … the first weekend in March finds 350+ dogs racing through Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula.
The CopperDog 150 and CopperDog 40 are organized by CopperDog, Inc., a 501(c)3 organization located in Calumet, Michigan, a small town in the middle of the Keweenaw Peninsula – a narrow finger of land on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula that juts into the middle of Lake Superior. With an average annual snowfall of 241 inches it’s the perfect place for … well, a sled dog race.
Since its beginning the CopperDog races have attracted mushers from around the world. While many mushers come from the Midwest, each race usually has several Canadian mushers competing – and in 2011 and 2012 a musher from South Africa competed.
CopperDog is definitely a labor of love. It is an entirely volunteer operation, with more than 500 volunteers helping to put the race on. Local residents help mushers with their dogs, provide housing, and oversee trail crossings. Local police and fire departments volunteer their time to man all highway crossings and ensure the safety of all volunteers and participants. On its business end, CopperDog, Inc. is run by an unpaid volunteer board of directors.
CopperDog is more than just two sled dog races. In addition to promoting community vitality through sled dog racing, CopperDog strives to provide education on the history and sport of sled dog racing. Numerous public events – such as classroom visits, volunteer training, “Meet the Dogs” events, and free sled dog rides - are held throughout the year.
CopperDog is always looking for new volunteers. If you’d like to work with a great group of people and be part of one of the MOST FUN winter events you’ll ever see, please contact us. We can’t do it without you!
Dr. Ladd is a 1987 graduate of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University. He is the owner of Keweenaw Veterinary Clinic near Chassell, MI.
He has participated in sled dog medicine and races since 1990, to include the Beargrease, UP-200, Empire, Iditarod, and served as the first chief veterinarian in the inaugural CopperDog 150 in 2010.
He is a member of the ISDVMA.
Dr. Ladd has worked closely with planners of the CopperDog 150 providing valuable insights on how to run dog-friendly events build excellent dog-care into events.
Dr. Ladd looks forward to returning to the 5th running of the CopperDog 150.
past Asst. Race Director & Calumet Director
Doug Harrer, a native of the Keweenaw, lives in Calumet. Doug spends much of his typical day traveling the Upper Peninsula as a Driver and Sales Rep. for Ferrellgas and has also served as a Trustee of the Calumet Village since 2006.
As the concept for the CopperDog 150 was first coming together, the Calumet Village Council was asked to provide a representative to sit on the CopperDog Board. Feeling that the proposed event would be a good opportunity for Calumet businesses during a typically slow time of year, Doug volunteered and became involved.
As Doug learned the basics of mushing and helped in the planning of the inaugural event, his interest and enthusiasm grew. Using his many years of experience as Inventory Manager at Somero, Doug managed the race's apparel, merchandise, and sales, which raises much needed funds for the event. Doug moved on to managing musher parking and was a "Calumet Hooker" (the person that pulls a musher's snow-hook off the cable at the Calumet starting shoot) at the first race.
After experiencing the thrill and excitement of the event, Doug became very passionate about the sport and was ready to get more involved. Later in 2010 Doug went on to be the clear choice to Chair the CopperDog 150 board. Doug's balance of insight, experience and even temperament made him the perfect person to bring together the many different people and personalities that make up the Board. Doug also served as Asst. Race Director at the second CopperDog 150 event in March of 2011.
In mid 2011 Doug served a key roll in establishing policy and procedures designed to make the CopperDog 150 successful and sustainable for many years to come. With many fresh faces on the Board, Doug was re-elected as Chair and worked to establish the various committees to better distribute the immense work load of planning the epic sled-dog racing weekend.
Doug believes that between the beautiful terrain of the Keweenaw Peninsula, the dedication of mushers to their sport, and the ongoing support of local business, the CopperDog 150 will be one of the most prestigious sled-dog races in the Midwest. Doug is honored and humbled to say he's been a part of the adventure since day one.