Something I really make an effort to do, is to try and challenge myself to try new things. Canada gets cold, and you think most of us Canadians would be used to the weather...but a lot of us make it their job to complain about the snow and the cold in the winter and the heat in the summer, with little to no effort to attempt to appreciate it. Although, I was one of those people (yikes!) It wasn't until I made an effort to get outside more and do fun activities that I realized I LOVE Canadian weather.
Dog sledding has been something I've wanted to try for such a long time. And before I continue this blog post, I need to address something really important:
Dog sledding is NOT an abusive sport / activity. Many kennel owners will attest that their dogs health and comfort come first. Which is what I experienced at North Ridge Ranch in Huntsville. The other thing: Siberian and Alaskan Huskies are running dogs. That's what they live for. They are exceptionally strong, and living outside is what they love. You will often see photos of Huskies happily sleeping outside burrowed up in the snow - because they are meant to withstand harsh weather. So when you see a dog sled dog living in an outdoor house on a chain - don't freak out. This is normal. They are taken care of, their waste is cleaned up and they go for a run everyday.
It is hard for humans who think 30 F is cold to imagine dogs doing well at -30° F. But the dogs do amazingly well if they are acclimated, healthy, fed well and housed well. It's extremely important for us to remember this. If you decide to go dog sledding and you don't know much about the activity or the breed, you can ask a veterinarian or call the kennel and ask questions about the dogs and their living situation. I cannot stress this enough. Be comfortable with the situation before you go and learn as much about this activity as possible before you freak out.
My experience was incredible! I did take some GoPro footage, so as soon as I have time this week I'll put it up on my YouTube channel. The coolest part was at the beginning. When the kennel owners unhook the sled from the chain and the dogs go nuts! They are barking and tugging and trying to take off...and the dogs who didn't get chosen (and trust me, they make it known that they're pissed they don't get to run) start jumping on their houses and barking. It's so hectic and crazy! And finally when you are instructed to release your break the dogs take off and if you're not holding on...you'll be left behind. I loved sledding through the Muskoka trails with my little pack of dogs. They were so fun and made the adventure super enjoyable. Bryon loved it! I recommend booking with North Ridge Ranch in Huntsville if you have had thoughts about dog sledding. They deliver a thorough presentation on how to operate and control the sled (and how mad they will be if you hurt or put their dogs at risk hahaha...for them, their dogs safety come before customer service, which I found endearing). Bryon and I did the half-day tour, which I felt was the perfect way to enjoy it. Muskoka had TONS of snow, but what made it even better is that it was actually snowing quite hard during our tour. The forest was so pretty and quiet (when the dogs weren't barking). I wish I could have my own team of dogs to sled through the forest with!
If you decide to try dog sledding, you need to dress extremely warm - it gets quite cold! I've added a widget below with the items I wore (like my parka and boots) along with similar items to what I was wearing. We brought this Hudson's Bay fleece blanket - it's great to have with you if you're the passenger. It will keep you a little warmer than what the canvas encasing can do :)
But seriously - this was such an amazing experience!!! Enjoy the photos!