The one thing I've heard consistently since arriving in Sun Peaks is “you have to do the dog sledding, it's a must do for any local or holiday maker!” So when I was asked if I wanted to go on the tour I jumped at the chance, especially as it was already on my 'things to do in Canada' list!Walking up into the kennels I was surprised at how quiet it was and the thought did cross my mind that maybe most of the dogs were out. They weren't … it was a full house and as soon as they saw that we were going to be heading out the excitement levels jumped from 0 to 100! All of them were trying their best to get picked, some were displaying over the top excitement and energy, while others were trying to get the sympathy vote. It doesn't matter what they try as each dog gets a turn to go out at least once a day.The whole experience can be as hands on as you want it to be – from leading the dogs to get harnessed up, to driving the actual sled! To be able to offer a hands on experience Chris and Taryn have worked hard with their pack to make them as comfortable as possible with the constant change of visitors. To me the dogs didn't seem to mind the endless pats and cuddles. They are both so passionate about everything they do and you can see it reciprocated in their dog's excitement and happiness as they walk between them.How long have you been working with dogs? Chris is in his 11th year of Dog Sled Guiding, and Taryn in her 2nd. We have been the owners at Sun Peaks for two seasons.What do you both love about your job?We love the dogs, the wilderness and the quiet of the winter. Dog Sledding can be challenging, exciting and extremely rewarding as you work together as a team.Many people think ‘Mush!’ is the term used to get a team going but I read somewhere that ‘Hike!’ is more commonly used, would you agree?Mush is a derivative of the French word 'Marche' which means March. It has fallen out of common use, but we encourage our guests to use it if they want! Hike is more common to get the dogs to work harder up hills. We don't actively use either term - but the upbeat tone in which both words are used is the most important thing. We usually say 'Let's Go! ' & 'Good Dogs!'.How many dogs to you have? And is this the limit or do you want more?We currently have 46; the number will always be changing as we are going to need to bring in some younger dogs to replace some of the older ones. We always have a few dogs that will be available for adoption if the right family comes along.What is the majority of your breed of dogs?Our dogs are all 'Alaskan Huskies', a mixed breed. Every dog has a different look resulting of years of selective breeding based on performance as opposed to looks.How long does it take to train a dog to run with a sled?Our dogs have a natural desire to run with a group - when free running they often run in pairs! When they are in harness for the first time, they will run but they need to learn manners - like don't jump on your brother, stay on your side of the line and stuff like that.What position on the gangline do you choose for the dogs? We choose the confident, smart, obedient, and fast dogs for leaders. We try to keep the stronger, bigger dogs at the back (wheel position) but making sure that the dogs running together get along is a priority.What are the dogs favourite treat?The dogs love meat - we are currently feeding fish as treats, they like the heads the best. We also feed beef fat and trimmings from a local butcher which they go nuts for. In the summer we will also give them bones. The dogs get so excited when they sense a tour is about to happen, how do you choose which dogs to use?In the mornings, before people arrive, we formulate our teams based on who needs to go today. Some dogs need to run more than others, so we make sure that everyone is getting adequate exercise according to their needs. The dogs don't know that though - so they may think that barking and jumping are the criteria we use! They do definitely know our routine when guests arrive though.Your company has been praised as setting a great example for many sledding company’s/ kennels, when it comes to retiring and housing dogs for adoption, what is the best way to go about contacting you for dog adoption? Thank you for saying that - we had never heard anything to that effect before. If people are interested in bringing a sled dog into their family, we would recommend coming for a visit and meeting the dogs. If there is one that they have a connection with, we encourage going for walk to see the dog outside of the kennel environment. Most of our dogs have limited experience on leash, in a home, and in a city - these are things that will take some adjustment time for both the dog and its new family. Once you have decided to adopt, we would like to take some time to work with that dog to ease some of this transition by bringing them indoors, on walks and so on. If for whatever reason you find that the dog is not a good fit for your family we would happily take them back into our kennel.Final question, do you like cats?We don't have cats, but are fond of them. We do plan on getting one or two to help with the mouse issue at our summer home this year.I agree with all the feedback I was receiving about going on the Dog Sledding tour! It was such an awesome experience and I HIGHLY recommend everyone to give it a go and get involved as much as possible!To book a tour with Mountain Man Adventures contact the Sun Peaks Adventure desk by phone on 250-578-5542, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit them directly in the Village Day Lodge.Hayden.
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