Perhaps I shouldn’t have said I’m not a nature lover. I do love animals. I’ve grown up with dogs all my life and I am as excited about them as I should be about newborn babies.
My best friend once noticed that I react to dogs that way most women react to babies. My eyes light up, I rush over to them, speaking in a weird high pitched voice. I love dogs.
My worst nightmare is when people bring around their newborns and want me to hold them. Sorry but I don’t want to hold your baby, I can see it from here but if you have a puppy I’d be happy to have it.
I was tired after the excitement of seeing beluga whales but Travel Manitoba and Frontiers North planned for us to go see Dave Daley’s working sled dogs. Dave has been breeding and racing dogs and now gives tours with Wapusk Adventures to help pay for the kennel.
As soon as we arrived and I saw the dogs I perked up. But first we needed to put on mosquito netting suits. Apparently going into the woods at dusk can be a bit buggy.
But I had no idea it would be an all out assault from blood sucking monster mosquitos!
Enough complaining, back to the dogs.
I learned that the life of a sled dog can be really terrible. There are some sled dog breeders that abuse dogs, they are often on a chain and rarely run. Dave takes his out as often as he thinks is safe and the only reason some of them aren’t running daily in the summer is they haven’t lost their winter coat and it would be too hot for them.
He has gained such a reputation for humane treatment that some mushers steal abused dogs from their owners and send them down to him, knowing he will take care of them.
It turns out the dogs train like humans with endurance days, intervals, short and long runs. You can get caught up in all of the technical details but it is so apparent how much Dave loves the dogs. He understands each one has its own personality and quirkiness and if he senses one dog isn’t up for a run he won’t make them do it.
Tourism with animals can be tricky. There are so many times you go on vacation only to find out afterwards that you shouldn’t have ridden that elephant, or swam with the dolphins or gone to the tiger kingdom. It’s a relief to see someone who clearly cares about the animals and know the tours go toward rescuing abused dogs as well.
Without snow, Dave took us on a mile-long cart experience with the dogs that he jokingly calls the Ididamile in homage to the Iditarod – a race he hopes to compete in before he turns 50 in the next few years.
And when the dogs know there may be a chance to go out they are insane. Barking, yelping, howling fills the mosquito ridden air. The dogs may be sufffering from the summer heat but they literally jump at the chance to get out and run.
It was fun but I suspect no where near the excitement of doing it in the snow – so now my travel list gets a bit longer with adding dog sledding in the snow to things I need to do.