This weekend I firmly scratched “Dog sledding” off my bucket list. I am also contemplating going down said bucket list and carefully editing out every activity that involves a lot of speed with few possibilities for braking or steering (I have ALWAYS hated tobogganing for that very reason).
Anyone who says dog sledding isn’t a fucking sport because the dogs do all the work deserve to be tied to a sled in a motherfucking forest on a particularly icy day and see what happens. I, for one, have learned that I am only good at one part of it, and that’s the ear scratching. I will happily scratch all the ears in the world and massage all the furry faces into blissful contentment. I will not EVER set foot on a sled again. No, no, it was fun - everybody else in the family loved it, it’s just that I spent most of the ride being scared for my life, and also I fell at least twice and falling on ice is not the same as falling in snow, as my knees keep reminding me today.
Our guides were awesome and the dogs were endlessly fascinating, Each of them has its own personality, and while they often look the same, you can soon tell them apart just by seeing what they do.
Our first lead dog, whose name I can’t remember, just wouldn’t start. He squarely sat on his bum, ignored our yelling and contemplated the neighborhood (he had to be swapped for another lead dog. I sweat that he laughed at us when they carried him off).
Husband’s lead dog, Ice, would not stop for anyone, not even with two people fucking STANDING on the brakes. At some point he caught up to the sled in front of them, and the guy standing at the back of the sled nearly fell off in surprise when ALL OF A SUDDEN a big furry head appeared between his legs.
Havoc (OH JEEZ I WONDER WHY THEY NAMED HIM HAVOC HAR HAR HAR) is unspeakably strong and not that bright. He needs two harnesses because he will easily break through a singe harness. This gave Sequoia, who was running behind him, a break and she mostly enjoyed the scenery without ever pulling anything (her line stayed slack the whole time).
Olga is unimpressed with the whole pulling business as well. She is also very smart (apparently she likes to start fights and then she stands by the sidelines to see what happens - like the legendary Fox of North York, who pees all around trees and enjoys watching dogs go crazy trying to follow his scent) and easily bored, so not only did she never pull, but she also occasionally tried to stop everyone to sniff a tree or enjoy a bank of snow.
Klondike likes to run but she likes to run free and she resents having to pull people.
Guide: watch Klondike, she’s going to try and throw us against the tree.
Klondike: runs straight into the tree
Froglet and guide: narrowly avoid tree.
Froglet: well done! …. oh wait, ditch.
Guide: OH SHIT!
Klondike: makes for ditch
Sled: falls over.
And then there were squirrels.
Whoever wrote the dogs in “Up!” knew exactly what dogs are about. They’re all muscle, controlled energy, unconditional love, deep wish to be a good boy and then there are squirrels and everything goes to hell.
We were moving at a good speed when all of a sudden my guide yelled OH SHIT and a squirrel crossed the path in front of us. And then three things happened all at once: the guide stood firmly on the brake, the dogs veered sharply to the right, and I stayed exactly where I was while the sled went… elsewhere. Inertia saw its moment, grabbed me firmly by the center of gravity and propelled me unto the ice on all fours.
Thankfully, the following squirrel stayed on the path.
Sadly, the path was a very steep, icy hill.
(I stayed on, but OMG the fright!)
To sum up my experience of dog sledding: lots of fun for young folks, very fast, good dogs, many trees, hidden ditches, mostly good dogs, SQUIRRELS, fuckton of bruises. Oooof!
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