Checking Dog Sledding off the bucket list.
Going dog sledding on snow has been on my bucket list for a looooong time. And I was finally able to check that it off when went to Iceland in January with Dogsledding Iceland! This was an excursion I was really looking forward to and the dogs had such personalities!
These two really cracked me up. The gray husky was annoying the white dog named Narnia, I think. He was playfully nipping at her but she was grouchy and was having none of it. She would show her teeth and growling to warn him to stop but he would continue poking at her like a little brother would with his older sister and she finally had enough and moved toward him like she was going to bite him and he jumped back like, “I’m sorry! I’ll stop!” The picture looks pretty vicious, but I can assure you that it was all fun for the husky and Narnia was just irritated.
There seems to be a lot mixed feelings when it comes to topic of whether dog sledding is humane or not… I read and heard of people feeling that it is cruel to have use dogs for our entertainment, or that it’s not fair to have the dogs tied up outside in below freezing temperatures, or that the dogs are abused by their mushers. I also read and heard of history of dog sledding, the relationships a sled dog must have with their mushers and about the breed of dogs they use for dog sledding.
The thing is, once you are there and you see these dogs in person, you can just TELL that these dogs LOVED what they do. As soon as they see people walking toward them with their mushers, they stood up and barked with excitement. As soon as their harnesses were on, they couldn’t wait to get going. Take this beautiful black beast above for example… He was starting straight ahead at the other group that was ahead of us. He never took his eyes off of them and when they took off again before us, he started trembling with anticipation and kept looking at the musher as if to say, “Hey! We are done resting. Let’s go!” (The ice was crusted on his fur AFTER the first half of the run which was about 25 minutes. The guide said that all the ice will melt away once he gets to the camp from his body heat. I didn’t see any ice crusted on the fur of the dogs when we were back at the camp.)
Someone asked our guide if the dogs ever get cold being out there and what happens to the dog once he/she is too old to work. He explained to us their undercoats are so thick and heavy that instead of getting cold, they get hot. So hot that they will often eat snow after a run to cool themselves off. And eat snow they did. He also explained that the dogs will stay with them until they pass away. They will never to adopted out to be kept as pets as they are undomesticated working dogs that have a close bond with their pack mates and it would be cruel to take them away from their family, only to be kept inside in a hot room after 10 years of their lives working. I learned that even the elderly gets to go along for sledding, stationed all the way in the back where they don’t have to pull as much weight as those in the front, as long as they show the desire to go for a good run.
I had such an amazing experience with Dogsledding Iceland, with their dogs and their knowledgeable mushers. And this dog, I didn’t get his name, was my absolute favorite. He was so calm and sweet! He had no interest in having his picture taken but would nudge my hand with his head to scratch his ears. He would then close his eyes and lean against me with all of his weight. He was really so adorable and I was so sad to say goodbye to him and the rest of the dogs.
I do have to mention the one things that wasn’t all that pleasant… there was a whole lot of pooping and peeing going on the first 10 minutes of the ride. I don’t get grossed out by it or anything (I am a mommy of two poopy dogs, one with active anal glands) but just a fair warning that if you seat way up at the front, be weary of possible flying poo. We were lucky that there was so much snow that they couldn’t run fast! 😀