28 November 2013

Meet the Musher: Carol

Meet Carol.  Carol lives in Fairbanks, Alaska, with her husband and two retired sled dogs. She is coauthor of "Skijor With Your Dog." She has been running dogs in one form or another for about 35 years.  

What dog powered sports have you been involved with?  

Skijoring, dog mushing, kicksledding, canicross, dog carting, and one session on inline skates behind a smooth-trottng malamute. (We don't generally recommend it, but I have to admit it sure was fun.)

How  did you first get started in the sport?

When I first came up to Alaska in 1977, I learned to cross country ski. I skijored once behind a friend's dog and thought it was amazing. When I got my own dog, Willow, a few years later, she and I went skijoring at every opportunity and we both fell in love with the sport. Willow and I went on to meet Mari Hoe-Raitto, and the rest, as they say, is history.

 When did you know you were hooked on the sport?  

I had only one dog for several years, and though I was totally hooked on skijoring, I wouldn't say it had become a lifestyle yet. That started to develop when I acquired a couple more sled dogs around 1986. It was subtle at first, but I think I knew by 1988 that I was seriously addicted.

What is mushing like in your neck of the woods?

Fairbanks is dog-mushing heaven in a lot of ways. You can meet dog mushers and skijorers pretty much everywhere you go. We have miles and miles of trails and a long mushing season, although it does get a little cold on occasion.

Our sprint-racing club is going through some troubles right now, but our local skijoring club is going strong and holds lots of fun races and beginner clinics. The Yukon Quest starts in Fairbanks every other year. So there's lots of ways to get involved with dogs and dog-driving.

What is your favourite activity to do with your dogs?

It's a toss-up between dog mushing and skijoring. I love them both.


Tell us about your relationship with dogs.  

My folks got an English setter when I was two years old, so Loki and I were puppies together. Dogs were always a part of my life, strictly as pets. When I first started skijoring, I was struck by the difference in my relationship with Willow. We communicated so much better when we started working together. I felt as if we became a team. It's been that way with every dog since—when we work together, it deepens and enriches our relationship. 

 What have dogs taught you?

One thing I've learned from working with dogs is how subtle they can be. An ear flick, a tilt of the head, a tail held just a tiny bit higher or lower than normal, a softening of the eyes, all are signs that may be hard to read, but can mean a lot.

 Describe a perfect run with your dogs.

Sometimes the dogs and I just fall into sync. There's no other way to describe it. They know where I want to go, the conditions are right, I feel as if I'm an extension of the sled or of my skis, and I can tell the dogs are particularly delighted to be running. Everyone comes home happy from a run like that.


 What is the best advice you have ever been given for mushing?

I guess I'd say three pieces of advice compete with each other for "best I've ever been given." (1) Never stop learning. (2) Always look where you want your dogs to go, and always expect the dogs to take the right turn (even while you're ready for anything). (3) Believe the best of your dogs and they'll live up to your expectations.

What resources (websites, books, people, etc) have you used to further your training?

When Mari and I began working on the second edition of "Skijor With Your Dog," I picked up several books on dog behaviour and training that have proved enlightening and really invaluable in becoming a better dog trainer. My favorites were "Dog Sense," by John Bradshaw, "Bones Would Rain from the Sky," by Suzanne Clothier, and "The Other End of the Leash" and "For the Love of a Dog" by Patricia McConnell. One of the best books on dog mushing I've read is "Dog Driver: A Guide for the Serious Musher" by Miki and Julie Collins.

Check out "Skijor With Your Dog" on Facebook!

What was your "take away" from The Colins book "Dog Driver"?  How has that book inspired you?   For me, I really loved their sens of adventure, and to never stop learning. 

I like how comprehensive "Dog Driver" is, and of course I love the stories, but what sticks with me the most is the material on reading your dog. To quote from the book, "If you take anything away from this book, it is that you must understand dog behavior in general and your dogs' behaviors in particular" (27).

 Why do you run your dogs?

Besides the fact that I love being around dogs? I've been a scrawny little thing all my life, and I was never athletic. I was always the last one picked for team sports. It's impossible to describe what it means to take someone like me, a physically nondescript, noncompetitive woman, and stick her on a dogsled behind a bunch of fast dogs. It's exhilarating.  

I like what running dogs does to my mood, too. I can be grumpy and tired from work or just a bad morning, but when I go out with the dogs, everything changes. It's one of the best attitude adjustments I know.

These photos may not be used without permission of Dave Partee, Sled Dog Studio.

25 November 2013

Meet the Musher: Raija

Raija, originally from Finland, makes her home in Invermere, British Columbia with her family of six sled dogs.   She enjoys her time in the backcountry, and she loves her dogs!  

How did you first get started in the sport?

Having this many dogs you really need to be committed, before I got my first ever working dog, I volunteered for a Ititarod musher Aaron Peck I also rented two dogs from him to do skijoring,to get my feet wet. I highly recommend that kind of approach, It took me two years before I got my first sled dog, it also took some getting use to the dog poop, Aaron made me clean the dog poop in the morning in his kennel, he , told me I had to get every little morsel of poop , thats how I learned to clean in my yard also.

Tell us about the “lifestyle” of mushing.   

Why, to me it more of a lifestyle, dogs are company for me, I spend large part of my life out in the backcountry, they provide transportation and security and company.

I could use couple of more as I am wearing these out I only have six and is not quite enough for long trips.

It is also all about being fit and active, if you have dogs or ever loved dogs like me, you will want to go out there every morning to give them an opportunity to run, when they look at you like you are are their whole world, and only thing that matters in their life.

It is so much of a life style, that I am trying to sell my house in town and buy acreage, to be able to get two more dogs, I think eight working dogs is a right number for me, of course when time goes by My mommy dog will have to retire to the couch and I will have to get one to replace her, otherwise all my other dogs are young and we will grow old together. and thats that.

What is your favourite activity to do with your dogs?

My favourite activity is winter camping and a mid-distance mushing in fresh powder snow... I want to clarify things when I talk about mid distance mushing I am talking on skis, my fav distance on skis is 20 to 30k. 

Tell us about your current dogs.  

My Dogs are a complete Family, first dog I got was a retired sled dog from a touring company, he single handedly shoved me the ropes, he was very experienced lead dog, but very old,He passed away two years ago, My second dog I got from a friend of mine Anna Bolvin Knudsen she was running in a sprint team that had accomplished many wins including Canadian champions, she is my Mommy dog, then I accuired a dog from 4 times world champion bloodlines who is my daddy dog and the 4 boys are their babies,   So I have mommy and daddy and four boys. the key element here was to get as good bloodlines as I could possible afford and then to breed for my self, not to sell, I do not recommend breeding just to have more dogs, since we could not have the bloodlines to advance the breed, it would be going backwards in developing better dogs I leave that job to professionals, My mommy is spayed now, I only wanted good dogs for myself I could not otherwise afford to buy this many dogs of this quality.

What characteristics do you look for in a new dog? 

Volunteering also helped me in choosing the right kind of dogs right off the start, I do not buy and sell dogs to get better dogs, I have what I have and they are my family, they will stay with me until they pass.

What is your favourite piece of gear?  

I have a sled that I use to go from point A to point B but I always pack my skis with me, I feel naked and lost without my skis.   I guess that  answers to the question of my fav. piece of equipment Skis, definitely skis, you can never have too many skis.

What training goals have you set for yourself?

This year I am attempting to do Percy 100 mile skijor race, and I must admit the closer the time comes the more nervous I become, I have planned for this race two years, I am 56 years old woman. No woman has never done Percy skijor race, needless to say, I will be happy just to finish it

What is the best advice you have ever been given for mushing?  

Best advice I have ever given it has been given to me several times first with Aaron then with many other mushers, shut up and let the dogs do their job. in Other words, too much talking whether it is praise or what ever is not good, it distracts the dogs from job at hand, And I need to be reminded of that many times since I am a blabbermouth.

24 November 2013

Burger's Big News: Check his Page!

Our big beautiful boy has been busy lately!  Check out what he has been up to, by clicking on his page.  Be sure to click the links and see the new videos!

Chase the Rabbit/Break the Habit

Say No To Rabbits. Break that Habit.

Chasing the rabbit, is when you use another team out front of you, to get your dogs going.

Skijoring is based on using a dogs instincts.  Dogs love to run, and will usually pick a trail, over crashing through the bush or deep snow when hooked up to you.   The idea is to tap into the instinct of running down a trail, and transfer it to running down a trail, with a skier attached.  

Sometimes people have trouble getting their dog to go.  So they opt for the easier option of having their dog chase another team.  This is an instant way to get going, but all it does is train the dog to follow another team.  When the other team is no longer there... your dog won't go.  Or your dog may refuse to pass.

To get around this, takes work.  It's best to have never started chasing a rabbit in the first place.  Build on your dogs natural desire and drive to run.  Some dogs of course, are easier than others to get running in front of you.


A confident dog is more likely to take the lead and pull you down the trail.  So ensure that you spend lots of time training your dog one on one.  The more your dog can do, the more confident you both are in his abilities.

Some Leg Work

Get your dog out in harness, and praise him when he starts to walk in front of you.  You might need to start to jog a bit, then when your dog picks up speed, slow down, and offer praise when the dog is now out in front of you.

Get out and practice plenty with your dog, on foot.  When you know he can keep the line tight, then it's time to add the skis.  

Talk Less

Pretty much, shut up.  Don't be yapping away and distracting your dog.  Offer praise for pulling, then be quiet and help your dog out.


Say not to Rabbits. It can be hard work to get your dog to go our in front, and not chase another team.   But stick with it, and pretty soon you to will be saying:



23 November 2013

Meet the Musher: Lori

Meet Lori.  She makes her home in San Fransciso with the Raging Bulldogges. Check out their video.


What dog powered sports have you been involved with?

I do scootering, carting and sulkying.

How  did you first get started in these sports?

I started about 6 years ago because I hurt my back, and was having a hard time giving my dog enough exercise.  Riding a scooter was the only thing that didn't hurt.

For many of us, running dogs is a lifestyle.   When did you know you were hooked on the sport?

When I took my Boston Terrier to a mushing clinic 200 miles away, carpooling and sharing a motel room with a complete stranger, LOL.

Tell us about this picture.

 This is This is Ivy at the mushing clinic in Oct. 2008.  The white dog in front of her looking back in disbelief ran the iditarod the year before

 What is mushing like in your neck of the woods?

For me, it's pretty sedate.  I live in San Francisco, and because of the hills, there aren't a lot of suitable places to ride.  We do most of our riding a block away in Golden Gate Park, riding to areas that are fun for the dogs.  They take me there, and then I throw the ball for them.  It's a win/win situation.  I do have some friends that I can ride with on weekends if I want to.  Unfortunately, the places they ride are usually about a 40-60 mile round trip for me to drive.  One of the reasons I got into this sport was because, unlike many other dog sports, once you have your dog powered vehicle, there's very little expense.  Driving that far would really add up in bridge tolls and gas money.  I do try to get up there with them once or twice a season.  We also have a fun race in October called "So Mush Fun" that raises money for homeless huskies.  I do that every year.

What is your favourite activity to do with your dogs?


How do you control a sulky?  Does it have brakes?

My racing sulky has no brakes; it weighs only 24#.  You use your feet.  My everyday sulky has disc brakes.  I steer with reins attached to a driving collar on Otto, the middle dog.  They also knows gee and haw.
What other kinds of training have you done with your dogs?


What else have you trained your dogs to do?

I have competed in obedience, agility, and tracking.  I have done pet assisted therapy, and have trained 2 assistance dogs.  I am now trying to train them to hunt squirrels.

Tell us about the Raging Bulldogges.

I have 3 dogs, all related.  My oldest is Ivy, the one I took to the mushing clinic.  She will be 9 in Feb. 2014.  She is a purebred Boston Terrier and weighs 18#.  The other 2 are her pups, Otto and Suzy.  Otto weighs 31#, and Suzy weighs 19#.  Their father was an Olde Boston Bulldogge named Roman.  He weighs 32# and runs marathons with his owner!  Otto and Suzy will be 4 years old in December 2013.  They are litter mates.  They all get along really well, and are quite a handful when out walking.  If I didn't have them trained to pull me around, I think they would drive me nuts!

 What characteristics do you look for in a new dog?

  The most important thing to me is having a dog I like and can get along with.  There are many breeds that are better suited to this sport than mine, but I couldn't get along with them for various reasons.  Specifically for DP sports, well, these are the only ones I've had.  I trained what I had, I didn't specifically go looking for a special dog. 
However, I have thought about it a lot.  Because it is warm here and never snows, I would look for a dog with a very short coat, preferably in a light color.  I find that light colored dogs take warm weather much better. 
 You need a fairly energetic dog that likes going places, a dog that's resilient.  A really sensitive dog that freaks out from noises or things rattling behind is not going to enjoy this sport. 
You need a forgiving dog that won't get bent out of shape if you run into it, which you will occasionally do. I would also look for a dog that is non dog aggressive.  Having a dog that wants to fight with other dogs while in harness is a nightmare. 
 I wouldn't want any kind of hound or "nosy" dog that always had its nose to the ground.  I like a muscular dog with good length of leg underneath him, but a fairly low center of gravity.  Legs should be straight, with no crooks or bends at the joints, and good feet are really important, meaning tough pads and well arched toes.  Yes, you can bootie them, but it's a pain in the butt and an added expense. 

Scooter verses Sulky. Which one wins? 

I love, love, LOVE, my sulky.  Did I mention that I love my sulky? The scooter is fun, and we go faster on the scooter.  But for me, being an old lady, it can be a little scary at times.  You have to balance, steer, watch out for the line, watch out for roots and rocks and holes, and if you are moving fast, you need quick reactions.  The sulky is much more refined and relaxing. I can sit there and ride, and I actually get to see the countryside, even better than when I am walking with them.  I love it.

Describe a perfect run with your dogs.  

Oh, every run is great as long as no one gets hurt, LOL.  I do like it when they run for a while on the sulky, instead of just trotting.  Because of the hard hitch and the natural spring of the sulky, you feel the motion of the dog, and it's a lot like riding a good horse at a gentle canter when they run.  It's a wonderful feeling.

What is the best advice you have ever been given for mushing? 

Always wear a helmet.

What resources have you used to further your training?

Probably all of them, ha ha ha.   The mushing clinic given by SNDDA (Sierra Nevada Dog Drivers Association) was a big help.  I got to hook Ivy up with a real team.  It taught her a lot.  I have a pic of her hitched up with a dog that ran the Iditarod the year before.  You should see the expression on her face!  Barbara Schaefer, a friend I met at the clinic, was also a big help. 

 The other thing that really helped me was a book by Darlette Rathschen called "Travel at the Speed of Dog".  It's geared specifically to the sulky, but really, its advice is good for any DP vehicle.  It's especially good if you are starting out with one dog and you have no one to help you or a trained dog to run your dog with.  Darlette is also on the Chariots of the Dogs Face Book page, and she is very knowledgeable and generous with her time and advice.

Why do you run your dogs?

Because I have done so many other dog sports, I can honestly say this is the most fun.  I am getting too old to waste my time on things that frustrate me.  Along with age comes wisdom, right? 
Well, I'm just too wise (or maybe just too lazy) to spend a lot of time trying to bend a dog to my will to make it do unnatural things like precision heeling.  Been there, done that. 
This is FUN, and I want to have fun for the time I have left.  And I want my dogs to have fun, too.

22 November 2013


I confess. I never really learned how to properly line my dogs out.  It never really mattered.  I pretty much only ran one dog teams, I would bunch the rope up, start skiing, my dogs were barking and screaming and off we would go!  It was fun!  The noise was exciting, and I loved how excited my dogs were!

But after watching a friend's video, in which his border collies all went to the end of the gangline, waited while he hooked them up, and then went and pulled.

There was no screaming, no jumping dogs, everything seemed in control! 

Control!  That's what I was missing.

So I set about to teach my dogs a good and solid line out command.  I talked to various people, read some books (Book Reviews).  Just like anything in dog training, you ask one question, and you get 20 answers.

Here is what worked for me.

We worked on this with each dog alone, and then in pairs and larger groups as we ran with them.    First off, we made sure we were on a trail the dogs knew.  Putting the dogs in harness, we wore our cani-cross belts, and standing up straight, looked down the trail.

Some dogs, will be like Belle, who can be the calm one picked it up right away.   She walked out, and stood there, wating our next command.  She knew this trail, and wanted to go!   If you have a dog like this, you are lucky!  They are easy to train, and calm dogs who think and act, rather than leap around like morons.  Once we had the behaviour of her walking out, and waiting, we increased out time before giving the command to "HIKE".   We use treats in much of our dog training.  But in some instances, the reward can be something other than a treat.  In skijoring, the reward is getting to take off down the trail!  So we let her!

Burger was easy to teach line out to, he didn't have any bad commands, and we hadn't tried to teach him any other way before.  We taught him much the same way as Belle, taking him out on his own, and letting him walk to the end of the gangline, before we called "Line Out".  As he got that down, we have been increasing his time that he waits at the end of the gangline before we let him walk on.   He's young, and easily distracted, so when he lines out, we don't talk to him, or distract him.   We keep the amount of time we are asking him to "Line Out" short.

Riv, well, she is a different dog.  Calm in the house, she cranks it up when in harness.  She is very excitable, and can easily rile up a whole pack of dogs in a barking frenzy. Perhaps you have heard us on the trail. LOL.   With Riv, we started her working in the house, putting her in a sit, with her back to us.  Then we asked her to "Walk on", something she already knew how to do, and then told her to "Sit" as she walked away.  Once we had this behaviour of sitting with her back to us, we simply asked her to "Stay".  Making the switch to mushing was easy with this one, just putting her in a "Sit and Stay" and walking away behind her to hook her up the rig.   Once we had this behaviour, we put a label on it, calling it "Line Out".  She will now line out, and we are still working on her holding it.   We will increase our time slowly.

There are as many ways of training "Line Out" as there are mushers and dogs.  Everyone has something that works for them.   The end result should always be the same.  You have a dog who is at the end of the line, and waits for your command to tell them to go.  This reduces tangles, and stops yoru dog, or you, being jerked around when the line goes tight.

Do you have a line out command?  How did you train it?   

Meet the Musher: Steve

Meet Steve, and the Diaomnd Disc dogs. They are a double threat, they can mush and they can fetch!  The Diamond Disc dogs perform all across Manitoba at various events showing off their amazing talents with the disc.  They make their home on a farm near Inwood, Manitoba, with their own dedicated skijoring track.  

That's a great picture.   Tell us about your dogs.

I have 6 border collies and have recently adopted a lurcher. Two of the collies are retired 15 and 14 years old. The others range from 1 year to 8 yrs and all love mushing.

How did you first get started in the sport?

I heard about skijoring and the club Snow Motion through another dog sport, agility.

What other kinds of training have you done with your dogs?

My dogs also train for agility, Frisbee and clicker training for tricks.

Your dogs have got some pretty cool moves.  Where do you perform with them?

we perform at daycares,seniors centers, fairs, rodeos, sports games. Wherever unique entertainment is wanted. 

What do your dogs think of the life of fortune and fame?

They love meeting people but get a little overwhelmed when crowded. we have performed for hundreds of thousands of people over the years and at football games we sometimes have about ten thousand watching.

The dogs love it when the fans are happy.

Out of all the tricks your dogs can perform, which was the hardest to teach?

The footstall, where the dog balances on the bottom of your feet was probably the hardest.

What do you look for in a new dog?

Intelligence, biddable, sociable, tireless,fast. i like a dog that is able to concentrate fully at the task at hand. I like the working ethics of the border collie.

Why do you run your dogs?

I run my dogs because it is excellent exercise for us and fun.  I like the bond that is established between us from working as a team.

To see more of the Diamond Disc Dogs, check out their website:

To see some very happy dogs check out their You Tube page

19 November 2013

History Lesson: The Dogs of Denali


While visiting Alaska's Denali National Park, we were able to visit a kennel for working dogs.  Racing dogs are working dogs as well, but the dogs in Denali National Park perform a vital role within the park.

The sled dogs of Denali are seen as a cultural tradition, and are protected as such.  They represent both the Native Alaskan and the pioneer experience in Alaska; and have a role in the history of the park, which continues to this day.  Since the park opened in 1917, dogs have been employed to patrol and help manage the park.  Something the park is very proud of.
The dogs employed by the park are a different breed of husky than you would most likely be familiar with.   They are a larger, stockier, thick legged dog. A freighting dog, not at all similar to a show/pet husky or a racing husky.    They are sled dogs through and through.   They are the product of hundreds of years of breeding dogs that can run and pull sleds.  
The kennel breeds their own dogs, and retires the older dogs out to pet homes.  All of the dogs are bred for their working ability.  
I was pleased to note that part of the training to becoming a sled dog included free runs for the pups, as well as skijoring to teach them basic commands once they are older. 
During the summer months, the dogs are walked by volunteers and staff members.  Only two people are assigned to each dog, to ensure that consistency is maintained for the dogs. 
What really surprised me was just how large these dogs were, and what thick legs!  Even the puppies that were in the kennel had huge thick legs.  These dogs have been bred for centuries to be hauling freight and sleds in Alaska, not for winning races or for their looks.  
During the winter, the dogs of Denali  patrol the inner two-million acres of wilderness where mechanized vehicles are not allowed. The rangers use the dogs to contact winter visitors, haul supplies, transport wildlife researchers, and patrol the park for illegal activities, like poaching or snowmobiling.

During the summer, the dogs are kept in a super clean kennel area, and help educate visitors to the park during daily kennel tours and interpretative talks.

We were a little shocked to see them take out a big old freighting sled, and begin to harness dogs to it.   We kept thinking it was just for show, until the gave the command and the dogs took off, dragging the wooden sled across the gravel.  Wondering if we would ever see the guide again, we were happy to see her loop back again, still intact.  We were happy to learn after the sled had been modified and ran on wheels.   No sparks were flying, and no sleds were damaged in the process! 

Denali is a beautiful park, and the kennel tours are free.  So get there early so reserve a seat on the shuttle bus.   Have your camera ready, and enjoy learning about these happy dogs, and their role in protecting such a beautiful piece of the planet. 


Meet the Musher: Susie

Susie Stracken is a journalist and makes her home in Winnipeg, with her husband, two sons and her two border collies.  Susie is the "Queen of Skijoring" in Manitoba, and through her club "Snow Motion" has promoted dog powered sports for many years.

    How did you first get started in the sport?

I started skijoring in 1991, when I interviewed musher Glenys Morgan for the Winnipeg Free Press' Weeklies. She mushed with a team of beautiful Siberian huskies, and I wanted to know how I could get involved. But I only had one dog, my border collie Sona. Glenys sold me a Wendigo harness, and showed me how to do gee/haw training.

What have you seen change since that time?

I started skijoring with fish-scale skis and short poles, holding a leash in my left hand. That was pretty slow and awkward. It wasn't until I discovered Canvasback that I obtained one of the first skijoring belt and gangline rigs in Manitoba. The gangline had a nasty clip on the dog end of the line; it once got caught on my dog's Achilles tendon, and I had to carry her several kilometres back to the car, to make the trip to the vet. I'm very happy the equipment has changed so much since then!    

When did you know you were hooked on the sport?

I knew I was hooked by then. I pestered the Festival du Voyageur sled dog race organizers until they included a skijoring and kick sledding class with all the big-team races. Karen Armstrong was the only skijoring competitor that first year. I did my fare share of racing in the Festival races, entering skijoring, kick sledding and 3- and 4-dog sled classes, handling for other mushers.

The Snow Motion Classic is my favourite race every year. Tell me how it came about.

When the Festival race ended, I convinced Karen to start the Snow Motion Classic, and the first race was seven years ago. This is something I'm very proud of. I put a lot of effort into making the Classic as Manitoban as I can make it. We don't follow other skijoring races' rules; we run it the way that makes sense for our competitors, with classes according to handler and dog ability. And I confess: I set up the "Recreation" class just for me and my aging dogs.

Snow Motion, is a very successful club.  Tell us how it got started.

In 1986, I started talking with the Canvasback staff about the idea of holding a beginners workshop. We held our first one, and out of that came a group of about a dozen skijorers and kick sledders and a lone dog sledder, who formed Snow Motion in the fall of 1987. This was prior to email and our website, so we had to notify the club members about events via the phone.
In 1996, I wanted a club which gave me companionship on the trails. Today, I want to make sure that everyone, no matter their speed or ability, finds a place in Snow Motion. I was once in a long-distance ski event, where I fell behind the pack of skiers, and spent a very lonely 10 km on a frozen lake before I came to a check stop. That's why Snow Motion coordinators make sure that no one is on the trails at the end of a group run; and that we go back in and retrieve or rescue the club member who is having trouble.

What is the local scene like in your neck of the woods?

Snow Motion has around 80 active members these days. We work hard to maintain our relationship with the local parks and trail owners, dog equipment stores and ski equipment stores. Since Karen retired, Lorne Volk and Kevin Roberts became my co-coordinators, although Kevin lost his mind and retired two years ago. 

Tell us about your dogs. 

My current dogs are both registered Border Collies. My red male is Botyne Rojo Rauxa, known as Razzie. He's 10 and his favourite sport is Flyball, with herding a close second. My female is Can-Do's Dina-Soar, known as Dina. She's Razzie's daughter, and at age 5, canine disc is her favourite sport, with skijoring in second, and flyball a distant third. With previous border collies, Sona and Banshee, I've participated in competitive obedience, dock dog, agility, scent hurdling, tracking and even tried lure coursing.

When you look for a new dog, what are the qualities you have in mind?

I look for brains, temperament and all-round stability in my border collies. I want a well-bred dog which can do anything, and be a wonderful companion. That includes a good physical frame for lots of stamina, the ability to turn on a dime. And since we go to the lake in the summer, the ability to swim and fetch stick for hours.

What is your favourite piece of gear?

My favourite piece of skijoring gear is my pair of youth-size skate skis that can take a battering, compared to my race skis. My favourite piece of kick sledding gear is the Esla itself, to which I dearly love adding accessories. Like the handle bar bag, the sled bag, the lights for night runs, the 2-inch wide runners, the drag mat brake.... I'm not sure what will come next, but I'm sure it will be something.

You started skijoring before people were really active on the Internet.  How has technology changed this sport? 

My favourite website is Snow Motion's. But Sled Dog Central is my go-to for all things mushing. The Internet has been wonderful for mushing sports, bringing a world of equipment to Manitobans. We have great harness makers in our province, but who can resist ordering something new and trying it just once? I don't collect shoes; I spend it all on new dog sport gear. And the Internet allows me to talk with other club coordinators and race organizers around the world about how they run things. It's been great "meeting" people this way and talking all things mushing. My latest conversation is going on with folks in New Zealand about how they train and race.

What is the best advice you have been given as a musher?

The best piece of advice for mushing is: never let go of the sled. The second best is: it's never the dog's fault. It's yours. But the question I always get asked is: Can my dog do it? Yes, I say, if your dog can pull you on leash, your dog can pull you on skis. It's up to you to be the best partner to your pulling dog. And that's why I've had 4 of my own dogs and many dogs belonging to friends on my team over the past 22 years:

Why do you do run your dogs?

There's something freeing about heading out on the snowy trail, dog in harness, skiing or kicking hard to keep up. The world drops away, and it's just you and your dog connected by a line that's more than just a piece of rope.

Here are a few of Susie's videos.

A Blast From The Past

Wheel Dogs in Action: Earth Day 2012

Snow Motion: Goes to Shannondale

Happy New Year 2013


Meet the Musher: Paul

Meet Paul.  Paul lives on Long Island with his dogs, Summer and Tucker.   Paul is the owner of PAWESOMEDOGS.COM.  He volunteers with two rescue groups "Siberian Husky Assistance and Rescue Program of NY" and "Pets for Vets" as their trainer on Long Island.

What dog powered sports have you been involved with?

 Dry land mushing, I started Mt.Board-joring in 1992 with my then Malamute Boru, he loved it we'd go everywhere and created smiles too, the simple connection gets me lost in watching his movements in front of me, back then I was alone in doing this and still I get frowned upon by old school mushers, but once they see it and try it they change their perception, I actually compete in Bike-joring classes when I can get to sanctioned races and introduce people to running their Dog, as a trainer with the Springer System, Kjell is a great man.

How did you first get started in the sport? 

Through my love of Northern breeds and even as a kid I'd attach my Dog to my BMX bike and have him pull me, I went on instinct, then learned form more experienced real Mushers about how to call out for turns. 

When did you know you were hooked on the sport? 

Well it started when I was around ten years old, so 30 years ago and I've never been on a sled, so go figure.

What is mushing like in your neck of the woods?

I'm all alone, I hear about others, but I'm pretty sure they just see me and think there are more of us.

I do my best to promote it, and got some people into cani-cross, but I run on seriously twisty Mt. Bike trails so even experienced mushers might be intimidated by where I run my dogs.

What is your favorite activity to do with your dogs?

Kayacking, Summer does water rescue, it came natural to her, but I love that it proves BSL is BS. Then bike-joring and Mt.Board-joring. and hiking. I Love Hip-belts.

What other kinds of training have you done with your dogs? 

Well I'm a Dog trainer so opening doors, is pretty cool, some tricks, but I just focus on Dogs that can go anywhere and do anything, I'm pretty sure I could take a class 2 / 3 river with Summer in my Kayak and sky dive with her, it's all about love and trust.

Tell us about your current dogs. 

Summer comes from an amazing breeder, Tucker was a rescue that was locked in a basement for 16+hours, never abused, but severely neglected, he now helps me train unruly puppies.

Tell us a little about your relationship with your dogs.

They are amazing Zen like Dogs, they teach me.

What characteristics do you look for in a new dog? 

Their history, to quote Dr, Ian Dunbar socialization happens between 4 & 12 weeks of age and if those Dogs are introduced to a 100 people they Will be better Dogs for it, beyond that good legs and willingness, I never force a Dog to do anything, I may motivate them, but it's about Love and Dogs want to please us.

What is your favourite piece of gear? Why is it your favourite? 

A good harness that fits properly, good equipment is key and I also love RuffWear packs, but I get my Harnesses from Amy Dugan at Mountain Ridge, because that are handmade and I believe in all that Cape Town Carts does, people that Love Dogs and creative amazing products out of Love, not money get my undying  support. 

Describe a perfect run with your dogs. 

One where I lose focus on the trail and get caught up in the beauty of their movement, it's magical.

What is the best advice you have ever been given for mushing? 

Good equipment is essential, and so are the basic commands, my Dogs knowing “Stop” has saved me from serious injury.

What resources have you used to further your training? Not many besides some real mushers teaching me the tried and true commands, Haw, Gee, Whoa, Stop, Line out, Hike, Lets Go.  

Know the basics don't create your own commands so others can run your Dogs if needed, I've even worked Haw & Gee into pets Dogs for walking.

Why do you run your dogs? 

For the Bonding , for the thrill, for the Love we share doing it.

17 November 2013

5 Dogs, 3 People, 2 Scooters and 1 Mountainboard

Last Dryland Run of the Season

It's November already, and we are getting excited for the snow!  But before we get all the white stuff, it is time for one last dryland run.   We headed out with Ember, Money Penny, Burger, Belle and River-dog to Bird's Hill Park. 

There is a nice service road, which on weekends usually has no one on it.   The trail goes around an old sand pit, so the ground is fairly soft. It's great to run in the fall and the spring, as the cool ground is a little harder and gives the dogs some more traction.  There are a lot of coyotes and deer in the area as well.   Thankfully we did not see any today.

The loop we ran on was about 3 km long.   We did  a run with all the dogs, and then switched back to the car to leave Burger there.   This was Burgers first time with the scooter, so we kept the run pretty slow and short.   He did an awesome job, and when we took him back to the truck, he got zoomies and ran around like a crazy beast. He had lots of energy left!   He is really shaping up to be a great pulling dog!   We are limiting his outings, and everything we do is to build confidence at this point.

Click on the Video here to join in the fun! 


15 November 2013

WIN a free book!

Free Book Giveaway!

We are happy to announce the winners of our FREE books!

Blossom Repchull, you win a copy of

Skijor with Your Dog: Second Edition
by Mari Hoe-Raitto and Carol Kaynor.

Jay Leigh, you win a copy of

Dog Scooter
The Sport for Dogs Who Love to Run
By Daphne B. Lewis

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.