Skijoring

Husky Heroes!

Thursday, January 28th, 2010 | Random Stuff | Comments Off

If you’re in the Chicago area and looking for something to do this weekend, head on over to the Morton Arboretum in Lisle to see the Husky Heroes!

Weekend of activities includes the “Dogsled Spectacular” featuring Siberian huskies in dogsledding and skijoring demonstrations (11 a.m.-4 p.m.). In “Meet the Huskies,” Adopt a Husky will be onsite with huskies available for adoption. (11 a.m.-4 p.m.) In “Husky Legacy,” learn about the Husky’s role in Alaskan history and see the film “The Last Great Race.” Complimentary tickets are available at the Visitor Center one hour prior to show. Shows are at noon, 1:30 and 3 p.m.

This is a human-only event…you must leave your dogs at home.

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Skijoring

Friday, July 3rd, 2009 | Random Stuff | Comments Off

Today we have a guest post about skijoring. I figured it’s best to go to someone who actually does it since I knew of someone. Enjoy!

Hi there! Melissa invited me to write a short piece on skijoring (a winter sport in which a person wearing skis is pulled by one or more dogs), so I thought I’d just describe how I was introduced to the sport and some of our “adventures”. My name is Teresa Petterson, and I’m a veterinarian on the western slope of Colorado that races competitively with Bridger (Bit-A-Swissy’s Bridger -Teton) my 3 yr old Greater Swiss Mountain dog. I grew up in Michigan, so I spent my winters on cross country skis and eventually dabbled a bit with skate skiing; which can be compared to roller blading with skis. Four years ago I moved to Colorado and was a spectator at my first dog sled race in Redstone (one of the most exciting races to watch and participate in), and witnessed several racers skijoring. I was immediately hooked and couldn’t wait to try out this fast growing adrenaline filled sport. With skijoring in the back of my mind I got my second Swissy, Bridger.

Bridger was 6 months old when his first winter arrived and he spent it as any Swissy would dream, tagging along as I snow shoed and cross country skied in the mountains of Colorado. Towards the end our winter season I had Bridger wear a harness so he would get used to his new apparel, and even hooked a rope to his a harness a few times and let him pull me a short ways. He was a natural! During the summer we conditioned by hiking and backpacking in the mountains. Bridger was introduced to the sled dog commands, Gee, Hah, Lets go, stand, easy and whoa while walking on a leash then eventually while pulling a weighted sled around the yard. I will attest to this day, the last three commands don’t exist for Bridger while he is on the “chase” or at the starting line during a race. However, the most important thing to keep in mind while teaching your dog to skijor is keep it fun. Bridger’s fun is chasing another team and I don’t want to squelch that drive!

As fall approached training got more intense and I started rollerblading while Bridger pulled me along, which lasted until I found out just how hard a chain link fence really is. I quickly switched to bikjoring. I really like having brakes. Fortunately, we have several sled dog teams in our town, and they let us join them for training sessions. We hooked Bridger with a team of sled dogs thinking he would love to run along with them, but we were quickly proven wrong. Usually, a team can tug along a new dog until they get the idea, but not when one is a big strong Swissy with his “mom” behind him on the 4-wheeler. So I put the chase instinct to work and ran in front of the team and off he went. How scary it can be to run along as fast as your legs will take you and have a team of 6 dogs on your heels, as the lactic acid reaches peak levels in your blood stream. The next day I brought my bike along and rode in front of the team, and Bridger never needed any encouragement after that weekend. In fact, he eventually became the leader of the team while we trained with the dogs hooked to a 4-wheeler and then the sled once snow arrived. The Huskies followed Bridger’s every lead.

Swissys are not born with the natural instinct to run as some of the Nordic breeds are, and I found I needed to borrow a husky for our training runs on the bike and skis. Without a dog to run with, or chase as the case at the races, Bridger would rather come back and run along beside me after a mile or 2 of pulling me along. Luckily for us,Team Fluff Butts and their owner loves that we put miles on them. We also train in the winter by running along with the sled dog team, which could lead to another set of stories. If you can only imagine some of the scenarios, especially since Bridger believes he is the leader of the sled dog team and at the same time is pulling me on skis. Just a few tangles!

Although Bridger is not as fast as the German Shorthaired Pointers, a breed of dog used in World Class skijoring competitions, he holds his own when racing against Huskies and other breeds used for skijoring. I hope this story will encourage a few people to give the sport a try. Recreational skijoring with your pooch can be just as rewarding as racing. Always start with basic obedience first. If you have any questions feel free to contact me on the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog forum. Two books I strongly recommend are Ski Spot Run, and Skijor with Your Dog. Equipment can be found at www.nordkyn.com and www.nooksackracing.com. Have fun!

Bridger & Teresa

norwood-2

Thanks for sharing, Teresa! I will also forward any comments or questions to Teresa if you are not able reach her through the forums.

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