Saturday, January 12, 2008

Dog-Sledding

We stayed an extra day at Chico Hot Springs in Pray, Montana so that we could try dog-sledding. We went with Absaroka Dogsledding Treks, which has an office right at Chico for a half day trek. It was fun, but harnessing and unharnessing the dogs takes a looooong time, a lot longer than saddling a horse or two. The dogs are surprisingly little - most around 45 pounds, some a little smaller, some a little bigger. Most were mixed breeds, not the classic Siberian Husky stereotype.

There were five sleds going out, some with 10 dogs and some with 6. We went with a guide and a team of ten led by Faith, the dog in the close up. She was a bright and enthusiastic leader and you could tell when she looked back for commands that she was really happy and having a great time. She wasn't the type of dog who loves people, she was rather shy, but on the trail she sure was a joy to watch. At top speed the dogs were running 18 miles an hour, which is really impressive, especially considering they must have been pulling about 500 pounds (three people and a sled).

The other photo shows multiple dog teams on a break at lunch. While some dog mushers don't socialize with their dogs and treat them as solely working animals, I was glad that the guide we had fed his dogs well, let them come in the house, knew the personality of each dog, and genuinely cared for them all. His dogs were in better shape than the ones owned by someone else. One of the other dogs was actually too underweight to be working in my opinion, and if she was at the Humane Society they'd put her in foster care to gain weight before they even adopted her out. They weren't being mistreated, it was just clear different philosophies of caring for the dogs were at play.

Overall it was fun and I'm glad we tried it. If I have the chance to go again sometime I will.

No comments: