Sticking with Tradition
Story by Pat Forrest, Photos by Brooke Towle
Brian Wiese’s love affair with sled dogs and racing started almost a half century ago when, as a child, his uncle gave him an injured Alaskan-Siberian husky named Cindy. “She was injured, and he told me if I could help her recover, I could keep her,” he says. “It wasn’t long before she was well enough to pull my Red Rider sled as we went racing around the neighbourhood.”
Ten years later the Bemidji, Minnesota native was a teenager, living on his own in nearby Pinewood in a cabin and bending wood over a wood stove to make dog sleds. Often working and racing alongside his friend, the now-acclaimed children’s book author Gary Paulsen, he soon developed what he calls his “sled dog habit.”
He’s still supporting that habit to this day from his home in O’Connor Township, building dog sleds and selling them worldwide. Though he has a day job as a technician, evenings and weekends are focused largely on his 13 dogs and his sleds. Wiese crafts 14 different models, from an introductory version to a high-end professional sled and an extra-wide, extra-strong touring version. While most sleds nowadays are built from synthetic materials, Wiese is sticking to tradition. “I have focused and will continue to focus on building beautiful, elegant, steam-bent and hand-tied wooden sleds,” he says.
Once an avid racer who took on the challenges of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon and the Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race, among many others, he is still mulling over future racing opportunities. But his latest adventure saw him taking a slower pace. With his friend Chuck Gould, owner of Kiwatchi Sled Dog Adventures in Isabella, Minnesota, he recently spent 13 days transporting happy Super Bowl 2018 attendees around a frozen lake. “If you looked hard, you could see me on the big screen,” he says, adding that NBC and several other television stations ran stories featuring him and the dogs.
Wiese mostly gets his customers through word of mouth, but you can also find his sleds on sleddogcentral.com.