Dog sledding is one of those bucket list items that most adventurers have on their list, and for a good reason. It is an adrenaline rush with cute dogs in a winter wonderland. Any sane person would want that, right?
Growing up with this as a hobby and as my Mom’s long-time passion, I know it is so much more than the rad photos people get from a ride they went on for 30 minutes. The discipline physically and mentally as well as the time commitment are reasons why this sport is so unique and rare. Not everyone is cut out for it. I sure wasn’t.
Baby it’s COLD outside
I remember being 12 years old and my friends would be having slumber parties, and I’d be packing up my warmest gear into our small dog trailer that we would spend the weekend in. I’m talking REAL small. Like, can’t stand up in it -small. Just enough space for the dog crates, me and my mom.
I would turn up the space heater a few notches when my mom wasn’t looking as we began donning our gear. The sound of dogs howling filled every space. There is an aura that fills the atmosphere prior to a dog sled race; much like the way the sky turns green before a tornado. Dogs and humans in the same mindset channeling energy towards the same task. It is palpable.
In all the chaos, you manage to get the dogs harnessed and a team assists you to the starting line. I remember it being an experience like that in the movies. You see all the dogs barking, jumping and people rushing, and the sound is muffled, but loud and everything feels stuck in slow motion.
Then the gun fires. And there is silence as you hurdle towards the trees.
The start of a race always felt like a paradox to me. There is so much energy filling your veins, filling the atmosphere in that 10 seconds of the gun firing and lurching into the wilderness. Yet, that is when an overwhelming feeling of calm sets in. It is something magical that I am blessed to have experienced.
The Fallout and Appreciation
I unfortunately do not handle cold temperatures well (I make this well known to many people). We joke about how none of my family was passed on the “thick” blood my mom has. This is what ultimately led me to stop racing. I remember being congratulated at the finish line as my mom would take my dogs and I would sprint to the dog trailer. I would frantically remove my outer layers and put my hands and feet dangerously close to the heater, crying because of the pain.
This is why I have such mad respect for people like my mother that continue to engage in this thrilling sport. I cannot help but laugh when I see a pretty girl with a cute jacket sitting on a trendy blanket in a dog sled on Social Media. I am not judging (mmmkay, maybe a little). It is not what I consider the sport dog sledding. Even in that glamorous experience, I’ll bet there is still the thrill and the sense of tangible power emanating from the dogs.
When I think back to dog sledding, I think of the connection that has been established between the rider and the dogs. I think of the sweat soaking my mom’s ski mask from pushing herself as much as she pushes the dogs. Everyone should get a taste of this electrically spiritual adventure.
Check out this video I made to showcase my mom’s hobby and to also promote that she’s starting to give out private dog sledding adventures! Check her out on Instagram as @SunriseSideSledDogs