3 November 2013

Urban Mushing: Let me talk you out of it?

Running the Young Guns on an urban multi-use trail.


Urban Mushing

I recently watched a video, tagged as "Urban Mushing" in which the musher ran a dog down a backlane, then across a busy street then down a sidewalk fo a run. I e-mailed the person who posted it, explained why this may not be a good idea. The video was removed. I don't want to see a video like this ever again! It was so scary!

It's tempting to just open your front door, and mush away with your dogs, or jump out of the garage, and go for a spin down the road. I mean, it's right there, and if you don't own a car, or want to save gas money, I can see that.

But there are so many safety concerns with running your dog in the city. It simply is not worth the risk. If you run your dog down a backlane, a sidewalk, or on the road, it's not a matter of if something will happen, but when.

Fast, fresh dogs will burn right through the pads on their feet on pavement or hard surfaces. If you are running your dog somewhere warm, keep in mind that pavement holds heat, and can quickly over heat your dog through the pads. Cars and other road users are certainly not expecting a dog team, and people don't seem to see what they don't expect. There are better, and safer alternatives.

True Story

I was skateboarding with my dogs, we crossed an intersection, a car rushed through the intersection, not expecting us, one dog rushed ahead to try and beat the car, and the other hung back. I hit the back of the car, and River, hit the front, and was thrown into the air. Seeing her limp body flying through the air, and spinning across the pavement still haunts me every time I go through that intersection. She lived.

We were lucky.

Now we are smart. 


Where I live

No mattter where you live, there is going to be somewhere you can run your dog. I live in the middle or a very urban area, in the heart of a large city. I don't know how many Yoga studios, and gelati shops are in my neighbourhood. There is a Starbucks on every corner, and when it's warm, the sidewalks are filled with hipsters and their thrift store bikes with Yoga mats.

It's a busy, urban environment.   But I still manage to find places to run my dogs, and run them safely.  It's worth it.   I have a busy professional career, and really busy active dogs that need to get out.  Some days I don't have the time to get out further from the city.   But I have found safe places near my home I can run the dogs. 


When the snow comes, my options really open up! Large parks groom trails for skate skiing, and with a 5 minute driver from my house, I can be on ideal snow!

If I am not feeling the perfect trails, or want a longer run, I head over to my local green space, where they plow the trails for walking on. They tend to leave just enough snow that I can ski with old skis, and on fresh plow days, I just take an old sled instead.

With also brings us to the frozen rivers that run though our city. I look for snowmobile tracks, be careful of those, or walking paths stomped down by other people who have gone out for a walk. I love running on the rivers in the winter, even though I am downtown, it's peaceful and wild.

You may even have success skijoring in a larger schools playground, is there is a track or a large football field that people have walked through enough to stomp out a trail.

Other possibilities will be golf courses, but ensure you have permission before skijoring on private property.

No Snow

When the snow goes away, I am left with less options for where to run my dogs. Some of my favourite places in the not-cold months, are off road biking trails, every city has some, they are often hidden away in nearby parks. Multi use hiking trails that are open to bikes, and have woodchip or pea gravel also offer great opportunities for running your dogs.

I have also run my dogs down the side of unused rail lines. Don't run down in use rail lines, or even beside the active lines, as this is trespassing, and it can be pretty risky, not to mention expensive if you are caught!

Be creative

If you can't get in your car, and get to a decent and safe trail head in your area, then be creative. Keep your eyes and ears open for places to run your dogs that are safer than running them on a street.

If there are no options, and you have scouted high and low, find other like minded people, and get a trail together! Look for cyclists, and walkers, nature lovers, and dog walkers. Get a group together and contact your local government representative. A portion of your tax money goes towards upkeep and recreational opportunities in your community. Let them know what you are looking for, and very often you will be pleasantly surprised.

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