North American/South African Musher Exchange Program

When was the last time you grabbed a stick of droë wors from your sled bag for a trail snack? Or, saw an ostrich from your 4-wheeler? Has a baboon ever snatched a yappy little poodle from your neighbor’s porch? Ever driven on the left side of the Interstate? If not, you haven’t lived a full life.ISDVMA veterinarian, Dr. Jerry Vanek, and South African musher, Natalie van der Merwe, have co-founded a new North American/South African Dryland Musher Exchange Program. Interested individuals should contact them to enter the e-mail address pool which will put interested mushers in contact with each other.In the proposed program, South African dryland mushers would travel at their own expense to their North American counterpart’s home and kennels during the Northern Hemisphere’s autumn months of October/November to live with and train dogs for the dryland event season. South Africans would be exposed to North American dryland equipment, dogs, event procedures and rules, training techniques, nutrition, etc., and have the opportunity to enter one or more dryland events with one or more of the host’s dogs. In addition, South African mushers would enjoy an emersion into real North American (non-Hollywood) rural mushing culture.North American hosts would be required to pick up their South African guests at the nearest airport and provide their home for their guest’s stay, introducing them to North American dryland mushing and American lifestyles. There would be no fees charged for local transportation, housing, food, etc., as reciprocity, education, life-long friendship, and good will are the goals, not revenue. However, visiting mushers would be required to pay for their own event entry fees.In return, North American hosts would travel to the Republic of South Africa during the Southern Hemisphere’s winter dryland season in July/August to enjoy a reciprocal emersion in South African mushing and culture. Again, North American guests would be responsible only for their travel costs to South Africa and their event entry fees.Once volunteer hosts/guests from both hemispheres enter the e-mail pool, they will begin a direct, one-to-one dialogue with each other to finalize the details of their respective journeys regarding times and dates, proper clothing, passports and travel, event schedules, expectations, etc. If you have a serious interest in joining the North American/South African Musher Exchange e-mail pool, please contact both Dr. Vanek at:, and Mrs van der Merwe at:


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