“Come on, Kaze. Here girl,” I call out to one of my doggy team. “Let’s get this harness on.”
Kaze looks at me impassively from her kennel. It’s -22 degrees… I don’t think so.
“Come on, Kaze,” I persist. “Let’s go for a ride.”
Once I finally convince her to come out of her kennel, I chase Kaze around trying to get her harness on. Think: Chasing little kids to get them dressed. Same thing.
We had covered Dog Sledding 101 that morning: sled anatomy (and where the all-important brakes are located), how to put a harness on a dog, and never let go of the sled (unless you fall off).
Giving up on chasing Kaze, I look for Dobby in the next kennel. He obediently trots up to me, and patiently waits while I fumble with the harness.
No rush, dude, he says, blinking at me.
With an audible sigh (I swear) Dobby pokes his head into the harness. Here, let me show you how to put it on. He lifts one paw, then another to make it easy for me to strap on the harness. Smart dog, indeed.
Next, I call out Askel - a very quiet doggy who trots along with the team without fuss. She also knows better than me how to get the harness on. Okay, so it takes a bit of practice by the human.
Sprint, as his name suggests, is always ready to run – so much so that he jumps up and down whenever the sled is stationary. He’s also got a quirky howl which seems to say: if you’re gonna harness me then let me run. He was later replaced by the equally naughty Tom for our last two outings.
Hawk (or Hawkster) is a bit of a wild child and naughty dog – he’s the last to be harnessed and attached to the sled as he has a habit of chewing everything. I leave Sprint and Hawk to be harnesses by the ranch staff - they're better at it than me.
Once tethered, the dogs become highly vocal and strain against the rope which keeps the sled firmly secure until we’re ready to head off.
Jacket zipped up. Check.
Hands on the sled. Check.
Thumbs up and off we race out of the yard. Just as we round the first corner at a fair speed due to the dogs’ excitement, I lose my balance and fall off – fortunately into soft snow so there’s no major injury (except to pride). It’s a long, slow walk to catch up to the sled as the dogs race off regardless.
Handy tip: Remember to counterbalance your weight on the sled. And definitely let go when you fall off.
Alaskan Husky FAQs
An unexpected adventure
I’m not a dog person. And I’m not a big fan of the cold. So here I am dog sledding in the Yukon, Canada, in the middle of winter!
The opportunity for such an adventure came totally out of the blue one day through a Facebook message.
“You twit,” says my friend. “I sent you that link to check out the structure of the webinar.”
All I saw was: Dog sledding in the Yukon. Oooh…. click.
Register for the seminar. Click.
Book now. Click.
It was the quickest decision I’ve ever made.
Part 2: It’s minus what?!
New Zealand 2008
New Zealand 2006
United Kingdom 2004
Athens Olympics 2004
Beijing to Athens 1994
I acknowledge the traditional Custodians of the land on which I work and live, the Gubbi Gubbi / Kabi Kabi and Joondoburri people, and recognise their continuing connection to land, the waters and sky. I pay my respect to them and their cultures; and to Elders past, present and emerging.
© 2023 HARI KOTROTSIOS