Stunning views of the Rocky Mountains, a dogsledding team of well-trained huskies, and a group of experienced mushers are the perfect combination, to ensure visitors make unique and long-lasting memories. Riding either as driver or passenger with Snowy Owl Sled Dog Tours is further enriched by the knowledge that Carlin and her team share about their dogs, the history of dog sledding and the area. Experience the freedom of mushing firsthand, and thus reawaken the lurking wild spirit of this ancient activity
1. How and why did you get involved in mushing?
Snowy Owl Sled Dog Tours was formed in 1983 by my parents, Connie and Charlie Arsenault. My brother and I grew up with our pack of sled dogs and so, we were born into this lifestyle.
2. Why are you passionate about it?
Adventure is what calls us, and the companionship of our sled dogs is what ignites our hearts. A deep love of the mountains and a desire to share our passion with others is what dog sledding is all about.
3. What has mushing taught you about leadership?
Your team is only going to be as good as its leader. This concept applies to all teams – even a sled dog team. Mushing requires both the sled dogs and the musher to work in unison. To work together for the common goal.
If the leader (dog or human) is lazy, grumpy, negative, stressed or anxious, it effects the rest of the team, making the task at hand difficult or unpleasant to achieve. So, the lesson here is to lead by example.
4. How do you choose your dogs? What is a “good” sled dog?
We breed companion sled dogs, as we believe they are so much more than just a “working dog”. We breed for disposition, build, genetic integrity, work ethic, warm coat, and tough feet, all combined with the desire to run and pull!
5. Can you please explain a little bit about the breeding process?
Our breeding program is very selective, in order to maintain a healthy number of capable working sled dogs for our touring company. We only breed for the number of dogs needed and do not breed to sell. Our kennel is managed in a responsible, humane and sustainable manner, with careful consideration given to the number of Huskies that we have. We never take on more dogs than we can adequately and expertly care for.
6. How important is teamwork in mushing?
Teamwork is crucial – every step we take, we take together, human and canine! It takes a very special group of professionals, two-legged and four-legged, to come together and create a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our visitors.
7. How do you house and what do you feed your dogs? How do you ensure their overall safety and wellbeing?
Operating a large kennel facility like ours is very labor intensive. As owners, we have a huge responsibility to provide a safe, clean, positive and healthy environment for all our Huskies. The mental and physical health of all sled dogs is THE most important aspect when participating in a sled dog sport.
8. What do you do with your dogs when they retire?
Since our pack is cared for and raised as companions, not just working dogs, we are easily able to retire and adopt out our Husky heroes. We have a well-established adoption program allowing our sled dogs to “hang up the harness” whenever they choose to, but no later than 10 years of age. Our adoption process in a lengthy and diligent one, ensuring that our sled dogs are adopted by the right people. In their retirement, they can look forward to countless adventures with their new family! Hiking, camping, canoeing, cross-country skiing and official couch warming are all activities our retired sled dogs enjoy. Part of the adoption agreement is keeping in touch with us and sending us lots of pictures!
9. Are mushers born or made? Can mushing be learned and improved upon?
I would say that the characteristics of a musher are something that people are born with. Can mushing be learned? Sure, as long as the individual has what it takes. Being a musher is not easy. I strongly feel that sled dog sports can always be improved upon and that as mushers, we should all be constantly evolving and moving froward for the betterment of not only the dogs, but also the sport.
10. What tips and tricks would you give to someone interested in getting started in mushing?
#1. Price out the cost in starting up. It is not cheap!
#2. Don’t be in a hurry. Take your time and research everything; buying dogs, choosing a feed, establishing a veterinary program, etc., takes time.
#3. Build your kennel before you buy your dogs!
#4. Dog sledding is a lifestyle and you need to be passionate about it!
#5. The dogs ALWAYS come first.
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Snowy Owl Sled Dog Tour
109-829 10 St, Canmore, Alberta, Canada, T1W 0C3
1 (888) 311-6874