Other Things To Do In Winter For Seniors (Part 2): On You Huskies.

Dog Sled rides with Mountain Man Adventures. Credit: Sun Peaks Resort.

Ok, nobody says mush. Nobody, outside of maybe movies, has EVER said mush, though the folks who drive sleds are often called mushers. Mostly, people who run dogsleds just say, “Go!”

And the dogs aren’t those black and white Siberian Huskies people expect. Your average sled dog is something mushers call Alaskan huskies. They are lean and small with long legs and bred to run. In the case of Chris Schwanke’s pups at Mountain Man Adventures at Sun Peaks Resort, BC, a combo of greyhound or German short hair pointer and … well, who knows what.

“People see some of the dogs with their tails tucked between their legs and think they’re unhappy but that’s what greyhounds do,” said Chris. “So that’s how you tell them apart … the greyhound mixes tuck their tails. The others curl their tails up.”

While these dogs are not an official breed, over the years, the “Alaskan husky” has been recognized by anyone who runs dog teams.

At the end of a tour, guests get to pet the adult dogs and puppies. Credit: Yvette Cardozo

My friend, Nancy Slye and I arrived and first got to pet the dogs and say hello. Chris encourages this. He wants his dogs to be friendly.

Then we loaded into sleds, normally two people in a sled with a guide on back. The ride is 10 km (a bit over six miles) and lasts about 90 minutes.

And we were off—through the woods on narrow trails crowded with trees, along an open lake, across a snow covered golf course, then back into the woods. It can be a semi-wild ride, as snow-caked trees whiz by from doggie level, hardly two feet off the ground.

But what made this trip different from those I’ve done in the past was the chance to run the sled ourselves. Yow!

You stand on the runners behind the sled, which are wider set than you expect if you are a skier. And, guide Destiny said, you just say “go” to start, “easy” to slow and “whoa” to stop.

“Bend your knees a bit and stay flexible,” she added.

It’s kind of like skiing. Or riding a snowmobile. Or a dirt bike. It’s go with the flow.

And, before we knew it, we were back at the start, among the dog kennels and other pups.

Now came more fun. As a treat after a run, the dogs get chunks of meat and fat to fuel them and keep them warm. You toss the chunk in the air and the dog jumps, mouth wide open, teeth flashing in the sunlight. It makes for a killer photograph.

Finally, to wrap up, we went into the puppy pen, where five-month-old Pirate, Sailor, and Captain were waiting to have their ears scratched. It’s not only fun, it helps socialize the dogs from an early age.

Guests are given a chance to drive the sled during the tour. Most sled dogs are NOT Siberian Huskies but, a crossbreed called Alaskan Husky. Credit: Yvette Cardozo

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