Gone to the dogs

A couple of weeks ago, I took a group of students from the Maritimes dogsledding on Québec’s south shore. The weather was perfect: warm enough to keep the eighth graders comfortable, cold enough to keep the canines cool. The snow was ideal as well: abundant and slick, with fresh flakes falling gently from above.

The sleds moved easily along the groomed trails. We followed each other in a long serpentine line, each sled with one student driving and one student riding, and scores of yipping, enthusiastic dogs. Our guide was at the front of the line, coaxing her dogs through field and forest. I was in the last traineau with Mathieu, a school chaperone, pulling up the rear, ready to pick up dropped mittens and hats.

The students mastered the art quickly, having been given a 10-minute tutorial — ample training to turn even the most hesitant into confident mushers. They learned how to stand on the foot boards, how to lean into their turns and, most importantly, how to brake, a necessary skill since the dogs have only one gear: GO!

When our morning ended, the students stepped off their sleds jubilantly. Over steaming cups of hot chocolate, as the dogs took their rest, the students bantered about their success.

31 thoughts on “Gone to the dogs”

  1. We in the west of Scotland have just had the biggest snowfall I can remember in the 35 years we’ve lived here so a dog plus sled would have been really useful! However the temperature has risen gain to +2 degrees so it’s all getting mushy and mucky.

  2. What a wonderful experience they will remembè it often too bad it cannot be on one of the tours as an option thank you for the emails

  3. What a wonderful experience for all.

    I loved your tour when I was in Quebec. Your passion for sharing was a wonderful experience.

    1. The close up of the Alaskan Malamute (lead dog) reminds me of our beloved Morgan and Lucy. Best dogs ever…though not as watch dogs! Everyone is a food opportunity….

  4. Samuel A Sperry

    Looks and sounds like a wonderful adventure for these 8th graders! And I find it reassuring that, while Quebec City is a magical place, even there the fresh snow flakes fall gently “from above.”

  5. Très canin ces chiens de tire, un mode de déplacement touristique maintenant mondial. Pour une première fois apprendre la nature et les besoins de chaque attelage, et comme tu le dis si bien en groupe faut savoir appuyer sur la “pédale” de frein L’an dernier, j’ai eu la chance de voir “au petit écran “Yukon Quest” qui a son égal en Alaska “Iditarod Trail Dog Race”. Là-bas il semble que la devise est Go Go Go
    Merci pour cette promenade Rive-Sud.
    Les livreurs de courrier doivent arriver à l’heure en 1890.

  6. What a great adventure and so foreign to those of us in San Diego. Keep the stories coming as my roots go to Quebec since the mid 1600’s


  7. Way to go, Neil! …What a great outdoor experience for the students. How many young people EVER get the chance to experience driving a dog sled? I’d say, not many. You are a great teacher, as I well remember, from when I took your tour of the city, and countryside.

  8. Great post reminds me of a great radio show Sgt. Preston of the RCMP& his great dog King. Your too young to have listened to it but it was great.

  9. Liz and Barry Ellis

    What an exhilarating experience, both for the young people you took and the adults who accompanied them. It brought back many memories of a holiday in Finland where we did a dog sled ride. Wonderful.

  10. A wonderful introduction to the sport for these youngesrers from the Maritimes. We just began this year’s Idatrod race here in Alaska.

  11. Everyone should have the chance in their life time to try this out. You can never imagine the feeling until you live it yourself. Bravo Neil. Another wonderful experience

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