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LATHAM, N.Y.-When it comes to the weekends, you can be pretty sure where to find Debra Urschel, a 15-year veteran and support coordinator for card services with the New York State Credit Union League. If she and her husband, Steve, aren’t racing their Siberian Huskies in the two-dog skijor, then they’re probably hiking with them in the nearby Adirondacks. “You get to play outside in the winter,” Debra says. “You have a dog with you. Life is good.” Debra and Steve first became interested in dog sled racing about five years ago, starting with their dog Nakita. Then they bought Natasha and became regular participants in the two-dog races. In the skijor, a belt system around the skier attaches to a bungee-cord leash, which is hooked to the dog harnesses. The dogs then pull the skier on cross-country “skate” skis. Races last four to six miles, with the dogs averaging about 15 miles per hour. And as members of both the New England Sled Dog Club and the Pennsylvania Sled Dog Club, Debra and Steve can easily find a race in which to participate. (Steve ranked third in the world with the International Sled Dog Racing Association, up from 14th last year.) The Urschel’s current racing team consists of Kodiak and Kiska, who are both less than two years old. At four years old, Natasha generally fills in if one of the pups is not feeling well. And at nine years old, Nakita gets to take it easy. “They’re pets first,” Debra says. “They all live in the house. They’re part of the family.” Debra and Steve train their dogs year round, using a handmade sled in the winter and mountain bikes in the summer. However, this year, Debra and Steve might have to take things a notch slower-they welcomed their first child into the world early this spring. “She’s another member of the pack.another little musher in the family,” Debra says. [email protected]

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