Man’s best friend

Bess Frerichs lives a life full of animals, and lately, sled dogs

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It all started with a book. This is what led to Bess Frerichs ’21 racing across the frigid ice in Minnesota, led by a team of sled dogs.

Frerichs has always been interested in dogs, and more recently, dog sledding. “[My mom] got me this book, ‘Race Across Alaska,’ my favorite book, and I got really, really into it.” Frerichs said. “I started reading all the books I could find about it.”

In early 2015, she got a once in a lifetime opportunity. Frerichs got to go dog sledding at the Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge in Ely, Minnesota. It started warm, above zero degrees, but was about a -20 degree average. “I didn’t feel it.” Frerichs said. “My mom showed me the temperature gauge and I was surprised.” When she arrived at the lodge, Frerichs was greeted by the barks of thirty sled dogs, including Ruby, a former Iditarod racer. Bess went sledding multiple times a day. The guides discovered that Bess was a natural musher, the driver of a dog sled, and could control the dogs by voice. 

“Bess has been interested in dog sledding since as long as I can remember”

— Rosalynn Frerichs

The sport of dog sledding isn’t just important to Frerichs, but the history too. The historic 1,150 mile Iditarod trail in Alaska was was site one of the first formal dog sled races. “There’s not a lot on [the Iditarod racers],” stated Frerichs “Not while they were on the trail and what exactly they went through.” The early races wasn’t documented very accurately, so it is difficult to get a good view of what went on.

Besides dog sledding and huskies, Frerichs also loves animals. She has volunteered at the Iowa City Animal Shelter every week since January alongside her sister and her mother. “We work with the cats and my favorite thing is when they curl up with you and just sit there for an hour,” said Frerichs.

Dannye Frerichs, Bess’ mother, volunteers alongside Bess at the animal shelter. “We all love that we help the cats stay mentally healthy in the shelter environment,” said Dannye, when asked what their favorite part was about volunteering. The Frerichs family are no strangers to animals, “We all like animals,” said Rosalynn Frerichs 21, Bess’ twin sister. “In fact we have 6 pets.”

Bess continues to help the Animal Shelter and be passionate about what she likes the most. “Bess has been interested in dog sledding since as long as I can remember, and animals even longer than that,” said Rosalynn Frerichs. Bess plans on returning to Minnesota this winter for another dog sledding trip.

 

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