Jason and I enjoy an adventure as much as Captain Kirk, only he likes to hook up with green babes and we like to hook up with dogs.* When our friends Meggie and Ben asked if we’d be interested in trying dog sledding with them, we didn’t have to think twice. Any day is a good day to explore strange new worlds or just attempt something new.
Pawsatch operates near Park City. They have a couple teams of dogs. Our group of four rode with their Beatfeet Sled Dogs in two different sleighs. Due to the snow that had accumulated in the days immediately preceding our ride, we were not able to mush into the “wild” but instead looped around a large golf course situated in a wooded dell. It wasn’t exactly the wilderness but it was serene enough to almost count.
The dogs were incredibly energetic and, according to their owner, their metabolisms match. But, beyond that, they didn’t fit any of the stereotypes for racing canines. They were short haired breeds not puffy huskies. (Short haired sled dogs are generally faster but don’t do as well in cold climates, like Alaska, for obvious reasons.) These pups were also very friendly and loved being petted and cuddled. What sweet creatures!
Dog sledding has a bit of a bad rep and, frankly, some of it is deserved. Apparently, sledders that care more about winning races than the health of their dogs are not terribly uncommon. However, the owner of these particular pooches, Bino, a 20-year racing veteran, has won vet awards for his excellent treatment of his animals on multiple occasions.
I should also address the other mistreated elephant in the room. Having dogs pull a sled may sound cruel but it’s no different than having a horse tow a cart. Besides, it was quite obvious that these canines love mushing. As soon as the process for attaching them to the tug line began, their barking and wagging became nearly unmanageable. Many of them started jumping three or four feet in the air on all four paws in anticipation. I’ve never seen dogs do that before.
Sledding with Pawsatch was slick. We really enjoyed interacting with the dogs and asking lots of questions. Perhaps Kirk was a little hasty with his no-dogs-just-babes policy.
*Yes, that just happened. I made a Star Trek reference in a post about dog mushing. I’m a nerd so just go with it.