Ever since the Walt Disney movie ‘Eight Below’ there has been a new surge of interest in dog sledding. For many years, these loyal canine companions have only truly been appreciated by their owners and drivers, but now their worth as rescue dogs or even sport dogs has become apparent to millions across the globe.
Dog sleds have been used as a form of transportation in areas of heavy snowfall for millennia. They gained particular popularity during Canada’s gold-rush days when dog sleds were often the only way to traverse large areas of snow and ice to get to towns and villages. They started to fall out of use with the increase of technologically advanced forms of transportation and before long dog sledding became a dying art form. However, a number of dog lovers and owners saw the need to find a way to keep their beloved companions in business and before long the competitive sport of dog sledding was born.
Making use of a basket sled, dogsled racing typically takes competitors over a certain given area from point A to point B, making use of the driver’s navigational skills and the dog’s sledding experience to ensure that the team chooses the safest route and arrives at the finish line. Dogsledding still has a massive following – especially in areas with a high annual snowfall. It may not be the most prestigious of sports or snow skiing activities, but it does give owners the opportunity to make the most of their beloved companions and to test their mental and physical skills at the same time.
There are many that would argue that dog sledding is cruel, but the counter-argument is that these dogs are bred to work. They seem passionate about their job and their natural instincts are often honed out on the trail. Dog owners are seldom merciless and will often put the needs of their canine companions above their own needs. Dog sledding is seeing a small revival today as rescue operations, arctic exploration teams and holidaymakers looking to enjoy a new experience often use them.
If you do not have time to learn the age-old art of dog sled driving, why not take a ride in a sled at one of the many winter locations that offer this option? Getting to know the dogs and enjoying the natural environment is often the perfect addition to any dog-lover’s snow skiing vacation.