And then we bought our first dog sled...
It was love at first sight for all of us. I was worried about how we would go about training the dogs. I shouldn't have been concerned, it's in the blood. The only hard part is stopping them! It only took five minutes for them to figure out the running part, and boy did they enjoy it! Free at last to run as a pack, as fast as their paws could take them - husky heaven...human heaven too. Swishing through the trees down a sunlit trail just makes winter seem to end too fast.
At our first fun race we met the members of the SD&G Sled Dog Association, who train close to Cornwall, Ontario, and have been running with them ever since. A nicer group of dog owners you will not encounter. They are sledding for the love of dogs, the outdoors and good company, holding by-weekly events starting with carting in the early fall and running until the snow is gone. And so we learned, and are still learning, to run with other dogs.
I encouraged my neighbour to take our sled team out for a run one day, and he came back with a huge grin on his face, comparing sledding to canoeing - a quiet, at one with nature activity. Man, dog, and nature: as good together as milk and cookies.
We are working on Sled Dog Certification for our older dogs, running short races with Friends Across the Border at Innesfree Kennels in northern New York State and various other locations, as well as some more well known sprint races in Kemptville and around our area. Our mid-term goal is to run a two day, 50-80 mile race like the one held in Bancroft, but eventually we think it would be fun to run something longer.
We still consider the Yukon Quest to be a purely spectator event, but a fascinating one!
2004/05 Sledding Year
This winter we ran at the Kortright Center north of Toronto and were pleased to post SD qualifying race times despite the temperature and Reesha being in season (of course maybe that just made Thor go faster since he was running behind her...). The people were awesome and the change of pace was fun, so expect to see us again next year! Sequoia and Thor both completed their SDs at this race - we only have to send in the paperwork.
We also ran a challenging course outside of Wakefield Quebec. David managed qualifying times with Ian's Sibes in an open race with his dare-devil rides down some seriously steep slopes. It was a beautiful course, and well worth the drive.
I have two most proud sled dog mommy moments from 2004/05: Posting the best purebreed team time at the Alaskan Malamute Help League race - following the winning Alaskan team in didn't hurt my time any -; and weaving Nahanni and Reesha in lead through a tangle of six waiting teams without pause after catching Bill's runaway team on a training day. We now have a lead team capable of doing a mid-distance race with head on passing without incident. Halburton and Marmora here we come!