Ever since he was a kid, country music artist Craig Morgan has always had a canine companion by his side. He loves dogs so much, he and his son once manned their own dog sled teams on a journey through the Artic. While stationed overseas, Morgan also had the chance to witness the work that dogs can do as part of a military team
Most recently, Morgan signed on to participate in the Eukanuba Performance Games, where he watched dogs showcase their skills in events including dock diving, scent work, disc catching, and various agility obstacles.
We caught up with Morgan to discuss life with his lazy Pit Bull, his wild Husky/wolf mix and adventures in running his own dog sled team.
PawCulture: Have you always been a dog lover?
Craig Morgan: I’ve always been a dog person in a dog family. As a child, as far back as I can remember, we always had a pet dog that was part of the family. Growing up in the country, my dad always wanted us to have a dog in case someone would come around, as an early warning device. But they were also companions. And then as I got older and had my own family, we always have had dogs.
As an outdoorsman, I’ve always had a working dog of some sort. The great thing about having a dog like that is we would go water foul hunting or bird hunting and they would do the retrieval. So we could go do that with them and then come home and it would be the same dog sitting beside your chair that would become your home companion. So I’ve always had a dog in our lives and my children, they all have dogs.
PC: What dogs do you own currently?
CM: We have a blue pit that was my son’s dog and a rescue dog that is part Husky/Shepherd and wolf. She’s got one blue eye and one brown eye. The blue pit’s name is Creed and the mixed dog’s name is Fallon.
Fallon is really my wife’s dog. We sent her to school and we got a ton of obedience training. I will say it was great at the time but now if she gets away from us, she’ll be gone. She’s a running dog. She needs to be in front of a sled, that’s what she was bred for, you can tell. I put a harness on her once and I literally thought she was going to lose her mind. She loved it. Creed is just an absolute lazy pet and is the most loving dog that I believe we’ve ever had.
PC: Being part wolf, is Fallon a little wilder?
CM: She’s wilder than a buck. It’s crazy. She’s extremely gentle. She’s a very loving dog but she likes to run. She wears a tracking collar like a hunting dog just in case she decides to run off.
PC: You went dog sledding in the arctic a while back. Tell us about that experience.
CM: My oldest son and I did a 100-mile dog sled expedition in Sweden and Norway. At one point, we were camped out on a lake and as far as you could see, there was nothing but snow. You couldn’t tell where the sky and the ground separated, it was that way. And the craziest thing was to watch the dogs – their excitement, energy for sledding and their ability to tolerate the extreme weather was just mind-boggling.
We each had our own team and every night when you stopped, the first thing you did was take care of the dogs – make sure they were fed, blanket them up, prepare their beds. And then you ate and got yourself situated. You got up the next morning, fed the dogs, got them harnessed and then you ate and hooked up the dogs and took off. It was the same thing for five days. It was absolutely amazing.
PC: Did you have any funny or difficult moments getting tossed off the sled?
CM: I came close a couple of times. When we got back down into the tree line in Norway, we were going through some wooded areas and there were a couple of rough patches where I kind of got bounced around a little bit, but I absolutely loved it.
l liked it so much, I have a place in Alaska now. I go up to the Iditarod (an annual long-distance sled dog race). I want to have my own dog team, and at some point in my life when I slow down, I probably will. But I’m not ready for the Iditarod anytime soon (laughs).
PC: What did that experience teach you about the human-dog connection?
CM: That’s one of the few situations where not only does the dog depend on the man, but the man also depends on the dog. In general society, we don’t really have a dependency on their abilities. But you get in an environment in those extreme situations and when you do something like the Iditarod, you depend on them more than they depend on you.
PC: A lot of your fondness for dogs came from your military service. Tell us more about that.
CM: On our team, we always had a working dog and a handler. And they did everything from protection to early warning, that kind of stuff. It depended on the training the dog had, sometime they were both. I already had a love and a fondness for dogs prior to that but I saw a side of a dog, a working dog in particular, that I had not seen before.
PC: What was the most heroic thing you saw a dog do over there?
CM: Identify bad guys before they got through to us. As humans, we can’t see through walls and doors, but dogs have the ability to sense and smell bad guys long before we do.
PC: What is life like at the Morgan household with your dogs?
CM: It’s pretty chaotic. The two dogs that we have in the house now, they don’t do any hunting with me or any of those types of things. We spend time with them in the yard when we are out and about, but they are companions. When I’m not home, I’m pretty sure that both of them sleep in my bed.
My wife has a dog blanket that covers up our bed so that the dogs can come and lay on top of the bed with her. I’ve used the dog blanket a few times. I don’t like it as much because they tend to get between us. And the big pit, he sleeps in some of the most awkward positions. It’s very humorous.