Mammoth Dog Teams

With Little Snow and Little Work, a Musher Worries

By Dan Robert Krauss

In the mountains of Mammoth Lakes, the California drought has taken a large toll on a local business that thrives on snow. The effects have left Jim Ouimet and his 35 dogs nearly out of work.

Jim with Siren

Ouimet is the owner of Mammoth Dog Teams, a mushing company about five miles outside of town that offers sled-dog tours, providing a firsthand experience of one of the earliest modes of transportation.

An outdoorsman, mountain climber and sled-dog musher, Ouimet, 47, returned to Mammoth Lakes, his birthplace, in the late 1980s after serving four and a half years in the Marines, and he began working with Paul Marvelly and his company, Dog Sled Adventures. There, Ouimet learned the craft of mushing. He took over the business, which is housed in a former jailhouse, in 1999 and renamed it Mammoth Dog Teams.

Jim Ouimet

Along the way, he worked with Libby Riddles, a champion of the Iditarod sled-dog race, and Joe Redington Sr., who was known as the father of the Iditarod. Ouimet continues to lead clinics and local presentations to promote the sport of mushing.

Mammoth Dog Teams Collage

During Ouimet’s busy season, the snowy stretch of winter, two teams of dogs make five runs a day, or about 30 miles for the dogs and their mushers.

But in the past three years, the worsening drought has meant less and less snow on the peaks of the Eastern Sierras, leaving Ouimet and his dogs and three other mushers out of work. The last sled-dog tour for Ouimet and his crew was in March 2013. In January 2014, the peak of the drought, the well at his kennel went dry, forcing him to drive into town twice a week to fill 33-gallon water containers so the dogs would have enough to drink.

Filling Water Drums for the Dogs

Ouimet has used loans from friends and relatives to help get him through — he estimates that he spends about $10,000 year just to feed the dogs — but he worries about where he will turn next if the drought stretches on. His most pressing concern is the animals’ welfare.

Jim Ouimet

Dogs on Their Houses

Dogs in the Yard

Jim with the Puppies

“They’re my kids,” he said. “I’m pretty much everything to them. I am the father, the mother, the guidance counselor, the disciplinarian and the feeder. I do everything for them. I’m with them 24/7.”

Sled Dog Puppies

Would you like to support Mammoth Dog Teams? If so please contact Jim Ouimet direct at (760) 914-1019.

Original article source:

Photo credit and source: Dan Krauss

PDF Documents of the Original Article (click to open)

 NY Times Publication 1  NY Times Publication 2

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Related articles:

Feeding Time at Mammoth Dog Teams Kennel

A Big Thanks to the Wonderful Kids of Camp Del Corazon!

Rooted In The Eastern Sierra: Let Our Sled Dogs Keep Their Home


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