Humans have been relying on dog power for both hunting and transport for nearly a thousand years, particularly in the regions of the world with the coldest climates.
Step 1 : Meet your team
Sled dogs may be elite, specially-selected and specially-trained huskies, but that doesn’t mean they don’t love attention as much as any other dog. Upon walking into a sled dog kennel, all furry faces will be trained on you and all tails will be furiously wagging. It’s hard to distinguish whether their excitement is eagerness to run or to immerse you in a husky mosh pit, but if the latter option presents itself, don’t resist.
Step 2 : Learn the ropes
Once the huskies are harnessed in – usually in teams of 4-6 per sled – you can’t keep them waiting very long before taking off. It’s best to familiarize yourself with the “controls” (so to speak) beforehand. Plant yourself on the sled runners and practice stepping down firmly on the brake, typically a bar at the back of the sled. Make sure you are clear on the commands – “go” is one to learn, though you will likely never need to use it. Above all, remember to always keep your hands on the sled; if your team gets free, they are apt to run for quite a distance before stopping.
Step 3 : Enjoy the scenery (and put in the work)
Time slips by, so long as you’re dressed warmly enough. The only sound will be your sled runners slicing through snow, and you can easily get lost in the vista of white, pristine snow in all directions. But remember you’re a part of the team, too: if you’re going up a particularly steep hill, get off the runners and help by pushing the sled.
Photo: Outside Tromsø, Norway / February 2016
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