Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Director: Andrea Stewart
On a small Caribbean island, born from dreams, determination and an undeterred spirit comes Jamaica?s first dog sled team. Guided by young mushers who have never seen snow, and comprised entirely of pound dogs rescued from... more »
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Good to the Bone
J. Connor | 11/09/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Sun Dogs is the heartwarming tale of the first ever Jamaican dogsled team. Yes, dogsled not bobsled. The film documents the rescue of 12 stray dogs from Jamaica and their formation into a dogsled team. It's a film about second chances, not only for the dogs but for the mushers as well. The mushers are offered the chance of a lifetime as they cultivate their love for animals while receiving an education and traveling the world. It's a great film for the whole family to watch. You get attached to each of the dogs like they're your own. Jimmy Buffet even sponsored the team, so how can you get any better? The film puts me in a good mood every time I watch. I highly suggest you bark at this documentary."
Going to the Dogs Jamaican Style
June Price | Alaska | 01/05/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Sun Dogs: The True Story of the Jamaican Dogsled Team" operates on several different levels. To be honest, when I started the video, I was expecting a bit of a "feel good, happy dogs running to a Jamaican beat" type movie. It's much more than that. Yes, it has lots of feel good moments, but it tackles the creation of this unique sporting team with honesty and shows the dips in the trail as well as the fun moments. As a bonus, you'll even learn a bit about Jamaica in the process.
The video opens as you might expect, with lots of fun in the sun type scenes of Jamaica. Yet, it also shows us the poverty and despair of so many that live there. Danny Melville, who is a businessman and founder of the Jamaican Dog Sled Team, admits that he usually gets laughs when he brings up the team in conversation. It's to his credit that he hasn't settled for using it simply for self promotion. A unique advertisement, the team provides more in form of hope and second chances for many, human and dogs alike. Teachers work with the young men involved with the team, cultivating dreams and showing that anything is possible. In the process, the JSDT entertains visitors and the world as the team evolves.
"I don't know anything about racing dog teams," admits the team's best known sponsor, musician Jimmy Buffett. As he began to listen more and more to Melville, however, and learned more about the team and its goals, he notes that it struck a nerve with him. The dogs are "tough street dogs from Jamaica," most straight from the animal shelter, which film crews visit. Like Melville, Buffett could appreciate the concept of second chances. While there are many scenes of running dogs and the mushers as they learn to be a team, "Sun Dogs" isn't the light hearted romp one might expect.
Davon Anderson is head musher. Melville characterizes him as hard working, caring and someone who not only loves animals, but is loved by them. You'll also meet Newton, one of the assistants, who unwittingly goes on to personalize the theme of second chances when he makes a mistake that is difficult for all involved to forgive. While not covered by the video, the fact that Newton is entered in the 2009 Yukon Quest should reassure you that like the dogs, Newton makes good on his second chance.
As for the dogs, Team Jamaica is definitely a second chance opportunity. As noted, most were street dogs and probably fated for short, difficult lives. You'll meet them all, including big, tough Bruno, whose aggressive attitude keeps him off the team initially. Gradually, with Anderson's efforts, that aggression gives way and you'll see him become a part of the team, adding his strength to its drive. You'll see Diamond's first experiences in harness and the team as it begins to mesh, some becoming kennel pets instead of working sled dogs, but all a part of the team.
"Sun Dogs" also shows that no one is in such a sport alone. Professional mushers are brought in to help select team dogs and train the mushers. You'll follow some to Scotland for more training and their initial races. Their willingness to admit some trepidation is refreshing, especially given the weight they carry as ambassadors of not just the sport, but all of Jamaica. "Sun Dogs" is their story as well as the story of the hopes of Jamaica.