Who let the dogs out?

When I was about 7 or 8 I went to this lady’s house after school until my mum was done work. She lived down the street from us.  One day mum picked us up and we got home and she realized we hadn’t paid her.  So mum asked me to take the money back to her house.  I didn’t want to go–I didn’t tell my mum why. (The lady had a big dog in her backyard…when we were there it was always tied up, but it barked and was mean sounding…so I didn’t want to go back into her yard to give her the money because of the dog.) Mum didn’t listen to me not wanting to go back, but sent me back to her house!  I went into the back yard… knocked on the back door and I remember the dog coming up from behind me and biting me.  The lady answered, I was crying I think I threw her the money said, “your dog bit me” and ran home. Once there I stomped into the house and yelled at my mum, “…are you happy now? her stupid dog bit me.” (it didn’t break the skin and the lady followed me home to make sure I was ok.  In the end it was ok, except for the fact that dogs freaked me out!)

What’s the point of this little story? well experiences shape our thoughts and beliefs about things…so that experience has made me really nervous and freaked out around big, hyper dogs.  Little dogs are ok… but big dogs…not really my cup of tea.

Nunavut is a place with lots and lots of dogs.  Over the years of living here…I’ve been working on overcoming that childhood fear. I’ve become friends with some awesome people that have big dogs…and have joined them on walks.  I’m ok as long as they don’t jump up on me! Today I faced that fear…and went on a dog sled trip! It was a fabulous day…and not once was I scared.  Perhaps my new experiences have wiped out that fear of dogs from my childhood. Dog Sledding025 I contacted Louis-Philip (owner/head guide) from Inukpak Outtfitting who is based in Iqaluit.  We figured out a day he was free and it would work for me and I took a day off work and flew to Iqaluit to go dog sledding! That day was today… Dog Sledding002 I met Louis-Philip at his house…and made sure I had warm enough gear.  I didn’t bring my Sorels, but had my rubber boots + 2 pairs of wool socks…my feet probably would have been ok, but Louis-Phillip had a selection of all the gear you’d ever need to go outside and have a fun day in the Arctic.  So I grabbed a pair of his Baffin Boots and a neck warmer (I forgot mine)…and off we went! (But that’s one of the thing that’s awesome about this outfitter…is you don’t need to have all the warm boots, parka, snow pants, mittens etc… he has all these for your use as part of the tour!) Dog Sledding006 I hung back and watched Louis-Philip get all the harnesses ready.  Before he hitched up the dogs we walked up and down the lines and he presented each dog and told me their name and a bit about them.  Honestly, there’s only a few dogs names I remember but they were a lively bunch! As Louis-Philip hitched the dogs I stayed close to the qamotiq and got on just before the alpha male was hitched (he’s the last dog to be hitched)! Then it was time to go!  Dog Sledding007 Off we went… the dogs were eager to get running! (Don’t worry about the dog on the right…she’s one of the pups, and is still learning ropes on the team. To start off she is harnessed but not clipped in with the other dogs, because she’s a slow starter and the rest of the team start off fast…eventually once we are on the sea ice she would get clipped in.  Today she managed to get out of her harness and ran with the rest of the team until our snack.  Then was put back into the harness and clipped in to join the team and be a sled dog!) Dog Sledding009

It was a super nice day to be out on the ice… a wee bit windy…but it was at our back on our way out of town! Dog Sledding010

Sitting and enjoying the ride…but also talking up a storm.

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We passed a few other teams that were chained on the ice.  Sometimes the dogs wanted to get closer to “visit” the other dogs but all visits were avoided!
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Going around some of the pack ice….a wee bit bumpy!  (Pack ice is in the tidal zone and is created by the tides.)
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Just before we stopped for our snack and break…the dogs decided they wanted a break, and stopped running… so Louis-Philip got up to run with the dogs.
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When we stopped for lunch…the break was put on the qamotiq. Louis-Philip grabbed his whip and cracked it in the air (the whip didn’t touch any of the dogs).  This is a signal for the dogs to lay down and rest… Then it was time for us to enjoy some hot chocolate and tea with some awesome snacks.  Dog Sledding019

Just hanging out before it’s time to get back on the trail! Dog Sledding020

Before heading back on the trail Louis-Philip sorted out all the dog’s ropes…to make sure they weren’t all tangled.  The girl puppy I was talking about earlier…decided to start a play fight with her brother which started some playful bites! Dog Sledding024

Back into town…with the wind at our faces! At times with a little encouragement required to get the dogs moving! Dog Sledding027

At the end of the ride…I was asked if I wanted to take the dogs out of the harness and put them back on their chains.  I took a deep breath and said yes.  So was showed how to get the dogs out of the harness.. and then walked them to their spot and hooked them on their chain. . I did about 4 dogs as Louis-Philip did the other 9!  (I was given the out if they jumped up or scared me to just let go but it wasn’t needed they all behaved!)

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If you ever want to go on a dog sledding Iqaluit is the place to do it!  Thanks again Louis-Philip for an awesome day…it was great to meet you and your dogs!

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6 thoughts on “Who let the dogs out?

  1. Emely

    That is so cool you got the chance to do a snow dog sledding!! Facing your childhood fears or any fears it can be a challenge… I am so proud of you that you met and face a fear you had and proceeded to do a close up and personal and didn`t made you to much scared. I got a dog that is a medium size dog `Germansheppard mix with Huskie` a lot of people get timinated by her, but she doesn`t bark loud just a whisper woof, and she is the most friendly, smartest dog I have ever met, I hated dogs because I had gotten bitten before, and I dreaded the day my family wanted one, but honestly it took me 3 months until I got use to my dog and now we are best friends – Marlie is very knowledgeable if she senses you are nervous, she actually leaves you alone until you are ready to pet her or just pay attention to her, and if you get scared you just tell her go and lye down on your pillow she will go that simple, she is very smart and awesome pet.
    I love your ride you had with the sledding!! Its amazing how strong those dogs are in pulling a sled and people on it. Sweet !! Great story. =-)

  2. cdnhomeschooler

    Awesome! 😀 Look at that amazing adventure and good on ya for doing it despite your fear of dogs <3 Love these pictures!

  3. keenanhaga

    Beautiful post – childhood story & of course, the dogs. I loved dog sledding last December but my experiences pale in contrast with your stunning Arctic pics. Truly beautiful Sarah.

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