Cold weather is ‘the best thing ever’ for these puppies: Sled Dogs of Windsor go out for a run
The Sled Dogs of Windsor are finally out for a proper race, thanks to this week’s snowfall and subsequent cold temperatures.
“The week before, there was all this snow in Toronto and we were so jealous,” says Katya Parker, a new member of the group with her dog, Moose. “It was going to be our first season on the sleds, it was really exciting to finally have that snowfall,” Parker said.
She and Moose were part of the group that paddled up the frozen Canard River on Saturday. Many of the group’s 300 members own huskies.
“That’s what they’re bred for,” says founder Sheri Blair. “They have base layers and they can run when it’s -35”.
“They (huskies) can definitely do those elements, no problem,” says member Wanda Carr. “They’re bred to run and shoot and you let them go and they’re just natural, it’s amazing!”
However, not all dogs in this group are huskies. Blair says whether it’s a poodle or a shepherd, “As long as they’re over 35 pounds and they can pull and they have the energy and the drive, let’s go for it.” Says Blair.
The Sled Dogs of Windsor were established 14 years ago and Blair has been racing with them for 10 years.
“It’s the best thing ever,” says Blair, who prefers being outdoors during the cold winter months. “Everyone said ‘you’re crazy’. I said no. I’m out September to May, that’s who I am.
Parker and Moose spent the summer working on orders. “When you want them to go right you say ‘gee’ and when you want them to go left you say ‘hah’,” Parker says.
“So throughout the summer, every time we go for a walk, we have to use these commands, so Moose, my dog here, now knows what he’s supposed to do.”
Members say they spend most of their time sledding on local trails, as temperatures in southern Canada don’t always guarantee safe ice conditions.
Parker says in some ways it helps dogs stay focused on a run.
“It was, I think, a little easier for the dogs with the trails next to them to focus on where they’re going. With all the distractions [on River Canard Saturday] it got a little wild but that added to the fun.
The Windsor Sled Dogs are still accepting new members through the group’s Facebook page.