Going to the (howling) dogs

It’s official: we’ve gone to the dogs. The Howling Dog Tours of Canmore, anyway; the ones that pull you in a sled along trails at breakneck speed, which for an Alaskan husky tops out at about 25 km/hr downhill. The kids giggled down every bumpy hill, I laughed with them snug under several blankets and Blake helped our musher, Brock, drive the sled along a snow-packed service road in Spray Valley Provincial Park.

Musher Brock snaps our picture on the trail. Don't we look cozy?

I had my doubts about how the afternoon would turn out, especially when Bennett started saying, “No dog sled, Mommy,” in the van on the way to the staging area. Once there he sat down in the snow and, to my horror, started eating it. “Don’t eat that snow!” one of the guides yelled at him. (Bennett’s bit wasn’t yellow, I don’t think). I also worried when Brock introduced our first two sled dogs as “Cadaver” and “Screamer” — fortunately I misheard him on the first dog’s name (it was actually “Cadabra,” as in “Abra”).

At this point Bennett warmed up to the seven friendly dogs that pulled our sled, and he didn’t even mind when they began barking ballistically right before we screamed out onto the trail.

Cadabra and Screamer get some pets from the kids.

We loved the two-hour tour and highly recommend. Here are five reasons you should go to the dogs too:

  1. The sight of happy dogs playfully nipping at one another as they pull a heavy sled will lift your spirit. They love to run!
  2. The smiles on your kids’ faces as the sled tears down hills and around bends … And subsequent smiles when they pet the dogs and feed them treats afterwards. We were amazed by how friendly the dogs are — and how good they are with little kids.
  3. You’ll feel slightly patriotic whizzing through a forest in the Frozen North while sitting in a sled pulled by huskies. All you need is a bear skin to exchange for a Hudson’s Bay blanket at the trading post. 
  4. The scenery is pretty awesome. Look up and you’ll see the jagged peaks of the Canadian Rockies scratching the sky above the treetops. Our guide said he’s seen wildlife along the trail, too — moose, deer and elk. 
  5. It’s a fun way to embrace winter. You don’t notice the cold or count the minutes you’re outside because you’re having so much fun.
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