Ididamile and I Want More

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Churchill, Manitoba

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.

 

mosquitos on person

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Join the Conversation

  1. The Travel Chica says:

    What a cool experience! They are really showing you some great stuff in your own country.

    And I also prefer holding dogs to babies πŸ™‚

  2. Dalene Heck says:

    So awesome! I lived far enough north in Canada that we had almost 8 months of winter a year, and for awhile we had two sled dogs as pets. We used harness and tie them up to our toboggan to pull us around our very small town. They went NUTS, and loved it as much as we did. πŸ™‚

  3. I went dogsledding in Minnesota a few years ago… in February! It was way cool. We got to carry the dogs to the sled and harness them up. The woman in charge had to pair them up because some dogs work better with certain other dogs.
    I know what ou mean about animal encounters while traveling. I once got to hold and play with a tiger cub. I even got my picture made with it. I got so caught up in the excitement of it that I didn’t really think about the consequences of what I was doing. After it was over my friend and I both said “we probably shouldn’t have done that.”

  4. Worse mosquitoes than the ones we got attacked by in Mollendo? Either way you know I love dogs too. Wruv dogs!!! Give me a dog over a baby any day. I want to go dog sledding too! Take me with you.

  5. I can relate, monster mosquitoes in Northern Norway as well – huge ones that seem to aim directly for your face.

  6. Jeremy Branham says:

    Man, I hate mosquitoes!! However, the love me! Insect musings aside, I love dogs as well. I have had one my entire life, including my 10 year old Golden Retriever.

    It’s so nice to see guys like Dave taking care of these dogs and not abusing them. It’s a shame that we actually have to say that but you are right about many of these places to show animals to tourists. Many of them are often abused!

  7. Give me a puppy any day. I LOVE dogs. I still have a hole in my heart the shape of my 14-year-old border collie-cattle dog cross. πŸ™

    However, I quite liked holding my own baby when she came along. Didn’t get any licks, though.

  8. This looks incredible – would love to visit in winter!

    I actually quite like visiting the northern hemisphere in winter – sure, it’s brain numbingly cold, but we just don’t get to experience winter extremes like that in Australia. Winter in Sydney is 11 degrees celsius with the odd frosty morning. Definitely no dog sleds.

  9. I can totally relate to you about the puppies vs the newborns. Though, I still have yet to understand why I feel that way. I am delighted to see that there are people like Dave Daley out there who provide humane treatment of these dogs, especially the ones that have been abused. I can’t imagine anyone mistreating such beautiful animals, but I guess it does happen. Dog sledding has never been on my list to do, though thinking about it now, it could actually be fun.

  10. I feel the same. It’s something else to hold a dog or a baby. Until 2 months ago, I would have chosen the dog as well.

    Now being a daddy myself, I’m happy to have 2 arms! πŸ™‚

  11. Don Faust says:

    Wow, I really hate mosquitoes. I can be with a half dozen people and they all come for me – I must have good blood. I’m lucky now, since Seattle has very few.

  12. Debbie Beardsley says:

    Great story about Dave. I feel like I have seen him before. His story sounds very familiar.

    I figured there would be mosquito’s but enough that you need a special suit!?! Do the people who live there get used to it?

    Love the story about the dogs but the mosquito’s are crazy!

  13. Iain Mallory says:

    Love dogs hate mossies, luckily they don’t like my blood group so usually seek out somebody else with a type they prefer when travelling anywhere they are likely to bother us πŸ˜‰

    Awesome adventure, never done any sledding but owned two huskies now, gorgeous dogs.

  14. Ha, I don’t want to hold babies either – and have the exact same feeling about puppies! It is great to hear about someone working with animals who loves and understands them.

  15. I didn’t realize those damn bugs were in Canada- learn new things everyday πŸ™‚

    This seems awesome though- I’d love to do it!

  16. So glad you are finding such interesting things to do in Canada. My son’s 3rd grade class studied an entire unit on the Iditarod this year, encompassing social studies, reading and math. The grand finale was a race around their school during the winter in the snow, the kids were the dogs and the mushers, hugely entertaining and the kids had a fantastic time.

  17. Scott - Quirky Travel Guy says:

    I’ve always feared that many of these animals are mistreated. It’s awesome to hear about someone doing such good work.

  18. Kudos to Dave for treating the dogs so well. They deserve it. I hate when people abuse both people and animals.

  19. Pingback: Top Travel Blogs | LandLopers
  20. Siddhartha Joshi says:

    I am a BIG dog fan too and it feels so good to see good people like Dave doing so much for them!

    Way to go Dave πŸ™‚

  21. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures says:

    I’m a dog lover as well, I don’t care what kind of dog it is I get SO excited! What a cool experience minus the bugs.

  22. What a great experience Ayngelina. Very inspiring to hear about folks like Dave who go out there and make a difference. I love dogs as well and want to adopt more someday. It’s a shame how humans can mistreat animals.

  23. Raymond @ Man On The Lam says:

    I’ve always wanted to do dog sledding — the skeeters I can do without however… πŸ™‚

  24. OMG I have recently become really allergic to mosquitos I would of lost my shit!! Nice that they gave you bug nets though – how did that guy survive without wearing one!? hahaha

  25. just discovered you and have enjoyed swanning through your posts so signed up for more!

  26. Sebastian says:

    Great Story! I’m going to Norway next week but unfortunately in this case its summer and no snow so we won’t be able to do dog sledding! I hope I can do that some time in the winter!!!

    Good that there are people like Dave who take care of the dogs!!! Must be a great personality!

  27. This guy sounds awesome. Abused dogs make me so sad, which is why I always forgive my half-brained puppy for his odd behavior. I know he went through a lot before I got to him.

    This sounds like a really cool experience, I want to go!

  28. Totally with you on the dogs > babies thing. My husband’s family was baffled by the fact that I didn’t want to hold my brand new niece after she was born and kept pushing me to do it. Urm, no thanks. Puppies and kittens I get, but human babies? Alien!

    Great to see that you found an outfit run by a guy who really, really loves his doggies. I struggle with the whole animal tourism/entertainment thing. Without zoos and Seaworld, I would not have quite the level of love and connectedness I do with all wild critters, but now I won’t patronize an organization that supports things like keeping dolphins or orcas in tanks. (Or my current project: not shopping at grocery stores here in Ireland that offer coupons to attend greyhound racing.) Glad to see Travel Manitoba supports animal caring!

  29. It’s so great to hear this! I’ve always loved the idea of dog-sledding, but was never sure how humane it is. I’m so glad I read your post, and to know that there is someone as awesome as Dave taking good care of these dogs – especially the abused ones.

  30. I’ve forgotten how bad the mosquitoes are up north. πŸ™‚ What a fun excursion though – in spite of the bugs. This man has such a kind face and sounds like he really cares for his dogs. That’s wonderful. πŸ™‚

  31. Bluegreen Kirk says:

    My wife is the complete opposite she loves running to both babies and dogs. Funny thing is shes so happy to see little pups that they run. Its great to hear about someone who is devoted to taking care of their animals. Mosquitoes SUCK!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      The only thing worse than mosquitoes are horse flies.

  32. Awww yay! Those dogs are so cute. I love people who rescue pups.

  33. We went dogsledding in Finland — it’s amazing fun. But not something I’d associate with Canada, and certainly not at this time of year!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      So funny because dog sledding for me has always been a Northern Canadian and Alaskan idea but I never considered Finland!

  34. Mack Reynolds says:

    that’s really cool. he seems like a really caring guy. you must have loved this place as a dog lover. i think it’s great that he trains the abused dogs and drinks tea by their house so they’re used to him.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It was so clear he loved his dogs it was really touching.

  35. I’ve always been a bit unsure about dog sledding as I don’t really like the idea of using animals for anything like that. But, from the sounds of it, as long as they’re treated humanely, it seems fine. Dave sounds like a great guy.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      You know the dogs love it so much, it isn’t much different than using other animals for transportation you just need someone who cares for the animal’s welfare.

  36. I hate mosquitoes!! However, the love me!haha! I love my dogs as well.
    I react to dogs that way most women react to babies. very nice line, exactly what i thinking about my dog. i always use harness.
    I can’t imagine anyone mistreating such beautiful dogs, but it happens several times.
    Dog sledding has never been on my list to do, though thinking about it now,
    it could actually be fun.

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