There’s only one sport that takes you and your family back in time to the foundations of Canada while allowing you to feel the winter sun on your face. One sport that carries the sound of kids’ laughter outdoors, and connects you with Canadian nature and animals up close: dog sledding.
Dog sledding is a unique and exhilarating way to get outside this winter.
But it’s a sport many of us don’t know much about. We’re here with 5 facts about dog sledding so you can seem like an expert musher when you enjoy a dog sledding adventure.
Fun Facts You Need to Know for Your Next Dog Sledding Adventure
- Dog sledding is really old: Around 1000 AD, while Europe was enjoying the height of the Middle Ages, the Thule people (ancestors of modern Inuit people) in what would later be called Canada, left the first evidence of a new innovation for life in an arctic environment: humans using dogs to pull sleds.
- Mush means go: You’ll often hear mushers (the people that drive the dog sleds) yelling mush to their animals. As the French were some of the first Europeans to colonize the land that would eventually be known as Canada, it’s believed that the command comes from the French word marcher which means ‘to walk’. However, the word is not commonly used because it’s considered to be too soft of a sound to be a distinctive command to the dogs. Now, you’ll hear many mushers use hike! to get their dogs moving.
- Sled dogs moved gold: Dog sleds were the preferred mode of transport for the Gold Rush in Alaska and northern Canada in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; from delivering mail, transporting people through otherwise inaccessible passes, or getting the sick and injured to safety. Siberian huskies are the best ultra-marathoners in the world. Thanks to the unique way their bodies process energy, they have the strength and endurance to pull heavier loads, run longer distances, and survive on less food than other breeds. Now that people aren’t dependent on sled dogs, dogs are still kept in top shape but - unless they’re running the Iditarod - generally aren’t expected to run as far, as fast, or as long. Now, dog sledding is about fun!
- It’s not just a workout for the dogs: The Iditarod is a 1000-mile race dog sledders run to commemorate the 1925 diphtheria outbreak in Nome, Alaska and the sled dogs that ran the Iditarod Trail to bring medicine to the town. But when you’re dog sledding, the dogs shouldn’t be doing all the work. Dog sledding is a chance for mushers to get in some physical activity, too: you’ve got to help your dogs get the sled up hills and braking requires some strength. Driving a dog sled requires some training and that you stand for the journey. It’s a unique way to get some exercise and it beats running in place on a treadmill.
- You don’t have to go to the Arctic - or back in time - to dog sled: Dog sledding vacations are possible, right here in Ontario, Canada. Haliburton Forest, has 100 Siberian huskies ready to introduce you and your family (of kids 6 and over) to dog sledding and they require no experience on your part. At Haliburton Forest, guests receive hands-on training for an opportunity that many people will never get to experience in their lifetime. Meet the dogs and learn how to mush your own dog sleds. Guests can participate in introductory, half, or full-dog sled tours.
Put This On Your Bucket List
Maybe you’re an animal, outdoors, or physical activity lover. Or maybe you just want to be able to hear your kids brag about what they did this weekend: Dog sledding is an adventure that should be on everyone’s bucket list. But it’s one that most people will never get to experience. Check out what else you should add to your bucket list in 2018 with the Ultimate Outdoor Experience Bucket List and make this year your most adventurous ever.