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Tim grew up in the northern suburbs of Chicago, much unlike the wilds of Alaska that he finds himself in now. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Recreation Park & Tourism Administration from Western Illinois University in 2012. He spent the next three summers guiding kayak trips in Geiranger, Norway, as well as the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore on Lake Superior. After moving to Alaska, Tim took an interest in dog handling and worked for Karin Hendrickson helping train her 2014 Iditarod team. He has spent the last three years at Wild and Free Mushing and has become and very important part of our team.  This summer, he is guiding sled dog adventures on a glacier in Juno and will be returning to the Wild and Free team in the fall to train for his first Iditarod race in 2018.

HOME TOWN: Mundelein, Illinois

OCCUPATION: Handler/Dog Musher/Guide

HOBBIES: Running dogs, scooping poop, talking, soaking in hot springs, puppy walks, kayaking

RACE/EXPEDITION EXPERIENCE: Denali Dog 140, Gin Gin 200, Two Rivers 200, Copper Basin 300, Yukon Quest 300, 2015 and 2016 Brooks Range Expeditions

YEARS WITH WILD AND FREE: 3 years

Get to know Tim Muto:

What is you motto?
I’m going with “Ain’t no try. Ain’t nothin’ to it but to do it.” I’m pretty sure I’ve heard Bill Murray say that. Yoda says it a bit differently, “To do or not to do, there is no try.” The concept and that mentality is so beneficial to have in all aspects of life, and it seems to be a necessity when living out in Eureka, AK. That or it’s an attitude that I’ve picked up over the years working at Wild and Free Mushing.
Who is your celebrity crush?
Nelly Furtado – 2009.
When you were 5 years old, did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up?
For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a police officer. That’s literally the only thing I ever wanted to be, well, other than a professional roller blader or professional paintballer – a cop. During freshman orientation, I went into a room with all of the other prospective incoming law enforcement undergrads and department heads, and I almost just as quickly walked right out of the room. I found a list of majors that I had been handed and scrolled the list looking for something that I wanted to do with the rest of my life – that’s what college is for, right? I decided right then that I would pursue Recreation, Park & Tourism Administration. I found the room in the library where all the Parks and Rec folks were hanging out, and there were like seven people. They were all interesting….and, the rest is history.
Where were you before Wild and Free?
Oh boy, a lot of places, but the summer before I came up to Eureka I was guiding overnight sea kayak trips among the Apostle Islands. It’s a little known inland archipelago on western Lake Superior, and I actually guided out there the summer before as well. All of my days paddling to and camping on islands, watching sunsets from a beach or getting caught out in some gnarly weather, cooking for people or helping them in any way, I missed it this summer, even though I was having a blast up here in AK.

Do you have any hobbies outside of the dogs?
Quite honestly, no not really. The lifestyle out here is pretty all encompassing. I pretty much do doggy stuff, or homestead-y stuff all day every day. I do enjoy watching movies when I get a spare moment or two, though.

What is your favorite thing about being a part of the Wild and Free Mushing team?
The challenge. Doing this is the most difficult thing I have ever done, hands down, physically and emotionally and spiritually. Not only is living remotely a very challenging decision to make, working with sled dogs and training them for the highest level of long distance competition is ridiculously challenging as well. Those forces have combined out here. It’s my favorite part because of how much it helps me grow as a person, and how much I learn about myself.

What is your greatest fear?
Missing out on stuff. That’s really what brought me to Alaska, when I think about it. I worked with some folks that ran dogs in the winter months, and hearing them talk about it I knew that it was something I had to see for myself. Before I met them, I didn’t even realize people still went dog sledding. When I was really young, I would sit at the top of the stairs and listen to my parents or whoever was still up and talking in the living room, because I felt like I was missing out on something.

What have you learned as the one or two things that are keys to successful dog training?
But there are so many keys to be had! If I had to pick ONE, it would be energy awareness. Having the full understanding that your energy and the vibes that you are giving off into the atmosphere are being completely consumed by your dogs, your attitude flows into the dogs. This seems to be an especially important understanding to be had in times of adversity. Keeping your cool under pressure is a key.

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