5 March 2015

Snow Motion: Rookie of the Year 2015: Carla

Meet Carla, the Snow Motion Rookie of the year.   Snow Motion is a winter dog sports club in Winnipeg, Mb.   We were happy to sponsor the Rookie of the Year award for their local race, the Snow Motion Classic.  
Tell us about your dog, Moose.
Moose is a rescue from Manitoba Mutts.  He was found wandering in a ditch outside of Miami, Manitoba when he was 3 months old.  We have no idea if he has siblings or what his breed is although it's safe to say he's quite the mix.  Moose is a pretty amazing dog.  He's calm, playful, likes to cuddle and is eager to please.  He gets along with almost any other dog but is content to explore on his own too.  But what makes him really wonderful for this sport is that he loves to chase and he doesn't mind pulling.  The trick now is to get him to pull without a chase.
How did you first get started in the sport?
I worked with an expert in the sport, Lorne Volk, when I was doing my practicum for teaching.  He would show the students pictures and videos.  I remember his eyes lit up when I said that I'd adopted a dog.  Everything fit into place after that.    
What dog powered sports have you been involved with?
Skijoring is my first "dog-powered" sport although we take Moose with us everywhere including cycling, hiking, back-country camping and canoeing.  
How did you know you were hooked on the sport?
I was hooked on the sport because Moose was.  It was a challenge at first.  I didn't know how to ski and Moose didn't know how to pull.  We had some pretty ridiculous crashes and entanglements.  I remember getting so excited when we first started to click as a team.  Now Moose loves skijoring and we're only getting better and better at it.
What other kinds of training have you done with your dogs?

Early on we knew that training was important with Moose especially since he is such a large dog.  We took him to obedience training when he was just a puppy and try to be very consistent with our behaviour expectations at home. 

Matt (my fiancee) is helping with training year-round.  Every time we turn left, even when walking, we say "Haw" and every time we turn right we say "Gee".  This year, Moose has started to listen and respond to those calls! 

What is your favorite piece of gear?

I started to sport using a short old pair of classic skis.  I wanted to make sure that this was a sport that we would both enjoy before buying expensive equipment.  I recently took the plunge and bought real skate ski equipment.  I'm having a good time with my new skis right now.

What is the best advice you have ever been given for mushing?
Get to know your dog.  If you can predict what your dog is going to do, then you can be proactive in either correcting or encouraging it.  Often it's when your dog surprises you that you end up biting the snow.    
Why do you run your dog?
It's so important to exercise your dog.  If we weren't skijoring, we'd be going to the dog park or for a hike or cycle.  But with skijoring, we both get great exercise and we get to take advantage of the Winnipeg winter.   It also gives us a chance to really work together as a team.  I feel a lot closer to my dog when we skijor because we are relying on each other to make it work.  Moose loves it and so do I.