JANESVILLE - The Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin's Eighth Annual Pooch Pull showed spectators amazing feats of canine strength.
The event featured Alaskan malamutes - as well as a few Samoyed dogs - in a weight pull competition at the Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin on Saturday. In the past, the weight pull competitions have attracted pit bulls, greater Swiss Mountain dogs and St. Bernard's. The dogs all have musculature designed for pulling in addition to an eager-to-please nature.
"Ten percent is their ability and 90 percent is whether they want to," said Laura Murin of the Alaskan Malamute Club of Wisconsin.
On Saturday, more than 30 proud dog owners and fans from Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota waited at the end of the shoot, rooting their pooches to pull thousands of pounds of dog food donated by Mounds Pet Food Warehouse in Janesville. Organizers from the Alaskan Malamute Club were expecting some of the dogs to pull up to 3,000 pounds. Winning dogs each of the three weight classes were to be given dog food and bragging rights as their prize. Malamutes were pawing and barking for a chance to pull and get pets and applause from owners.
When not rooting on the dogs, visitors to the event warmed up inside the shelter - enjoying refreshments, buying up raffle tickets and peering at potential pets. Proceeds of the event were to benefit the shelter.
Laura Murin of the Alaskan Malamute Club explained how malamutes developed as freight haulers in Alaska. Their muscular nature allows them to pull heavy weights and to enjoy doing so.
"They are a dog that wants to do something," Murin said. "If you can't challenge them they will get into mischief."
Luann Glielmi, a retired teacher from Green Bay and breeder Jeanne Nonhof were at the event to root on a Samoyed named Champions Moon Lighter Solitary Man, also known as "Manny" who can pull 2,000 pounds. Nonhof explained the white fluffy pooch was a retired show dog.
With Samoyeds being known as the "handyman of the north," his breeder said there wouldn't be much Manny couldn't do. In addition to pulling weights in competitions, Glielmi is training Manny to be a therapy dog in nursing homes, to go sledding, compete in agility as well as backpacking.
Bev Pfeiffer of Palmyra brought her Alaskan Malamute, named Wilson, for his third weight pulling competition. His owner said she comes to watch all the dogs and see what hers can do. She's had malamutes for three decades and more of her family members have one too.
"It's a breed that can do a lot of stuff - hike, backpack, and sled - a dog for all seasons," Pfieffer.
Kaitie Swedlund, volunteer and foster coordinator, said that Hawk won in the class C dogs (weighing 61-80 pounds). Hawk of Brown Deer, Wisconsin, pulled 2,390 pounds. Kinnapuk of Ames, Iowa of the Class B dogs (weighing 81-100 pounds) pulled 3,020 pounds. Tanist of the Class A Dogs (weighing 101-120 pounds) won. Tanis, of Spring Green, Wisconsin, pulled 2,810 pounds.