Although we went to Churchill Manitoba in Canada primarily for polar bear sightings, we also had another exciting adventure as part of our tour….dog sledding.
The adventure began with a short bus ride outside of town to Wapusk Adventures Dog Sledding. The owner and native Inuit was very passionate of the sport, his dogs and his team. He started by giving us a history of dog sledding, the requirements for building a team and the fundamentals of driving (i.e., mushing) the sled.
First is the dogs. They have a passion for pulling sleds. The air was filled with their excited barks, as they tried to draw attention to themselves, begging to be the ones chosen for today’s sledding run.
We learned that the dogs had different roles on a sled team and each had different capabilities:
- Lead dogs, the dogs leading the team;
- Point dogs, who is a lead in training;
- Wheel dogs are those dogs right in front of the sled who moderate the power of dogs, especially in turns; and
- Team dogs.
The dogs eat an amazing 12,000-15,000 calories per day, consisting of meat, kibble and 25 gallons of chicken soup. And just like humans, they massages and even chiropractic care.
Teaching each dog their role is no easy feat. There is a psychology behind training dogs to have a passion for running. Each dog has to be accessed and managed based on their individual strengths in order to develop a true team.
Then came the fun part as dogs were chosen and hitched to sleds.
We even got a see (but not touch) a newly born puppy. So cute.
After a briefing on the commands, we went to our sled. And then we were off!
Under the guidance of a monitor (who really drove the team), we mushed our team around a one-mile track. While Tom served as the designated musher, Joyce sat comfortably (or at least as comfortably as she could with Tom driving) swaddled in a warm blanket on the sled. Truly a great picture for our holiday cards
While we were waiting for the rest of our group to finish their run, we made friends with some friendly birds who were more than willing to take food from our hands.
A fun and interesting experience.