When I dreamed about dog sledding, I always thought I’d have to go to Greenland, Finland, Sweden or Canada. As someone who moved to Canada more than 6 months ago now, you’d think that would have had me jumping for joy; problem was, I thought I’d have to go to the province of Alberta, a 5 hour flight from where I live, in Toronto – that’s basically the same distance that I am from London.
Canada is huge.
But then I saw a blog post by The Planet D and then commenced my joy jumping – I could go dog sledding in Ontario?!
About a three hour drive from Toronto is Winterdance, a company in Haliburton that offers a variety of dog sledding options, from 2 hour to overnight tours and lessons. We went with the half day, starting in the morning at 9am (finishing at around 12pm):
Introduction to the sled and how to drive it
Meeting the dogs and hooking them up
Mush! Through the woods and on top of a frozen lake (gulp)
Break to hug and feed the huskies; snack and hot chocolate for the humans
Continue driving the sled back to homebase
Water and goodbyes for the dogs
Little Truths about Dog Sledding
It’s a lot of work
If you think this is going to be a peaceful experience, you’re wrong (unless you’re sitting in the sled, that’s pretty nice). When there are hills, you will have to run and push; the dogs may be strong but they’re not doing it alone!
I ended up getting so hot at times from all the pushing and running that I had to unzip my big winter coat and take off my scarf… something that is usually suicide in a Canadian winter.
Obviously I knew dogs poop, but I guess I never really thought how much I’d be exposed to that during dog sledding… it’s not a case of: “well I’m holding it in, so they would too, right?”
They let it out. And when you’re the driver of the sled, you may have to watch out. And just so you’re more prepared than I was… the dogs may not have any aversion to, uh, investigating their buddy’s poop.
Huskies are really loud and really energetic
I questioned the morality behind dog sledding (reading The Planet D’s post about the misconceptions about dogsledding helped, though) but when you get going with the dogs, you see just how much they love it. They can’t wait to run… any moment they’re still, they’re howling and barking like mad, even jumping in the air and tugging at the rope.
That also explains how loud they are. It’s so crazy that I was getting as impatient as the huskies for our group to get going just so they would shut up.
It’s a huge adrenaline rush
The moment it finished, we didn’t want to pull ourselves away and the first thing my boyfriend and I said to each other was “I want to do it again!”.
It honestly feels so good for so many reasons: you get to spend time with incredibly beautiful huskies, you’re outside with the wind rushing through you, you’re getting exercise and you feel kind of connected to nature.
It became suddenly all so clear that I was spending my time in a worthwhile way: away from TV, completely living in the moment and seeing and living more of the new country I had recently moved to.
The dogs are amazing
You’re actively encouraged to give them hugs and love… something I do not need to be told twice! It’s really nice to bond with the team of five you’ve been given and learn their personalities throughout the day. We had our two enthusiastic youngsters, Coral and Gilly, laidback Harry, Alpha male Ninja and lovely lady Firefly.
I would love to go dog sledding one day! I saw some dog sledders when I lived in Denmark, and it looked awesome! I have a husky now, and she would absolutely LOVE to be on a dog sled. Like you said, there are a lot of misconceptions about dog sledding, but that’s what they’re bred for and they enjoy doing it! And seeing how much my husky pulls her leash on walks, she would be great at pulling a sled!
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