I’m emotional before I even begin writing this post. If you haven’t met me in “real life” or been following along for a while there are a few things you need to know about me on a personal level before you read this post.
- I adore all animals, but dogs in particular. I’ve always felt a deep connection to our four legged friends and feel that they enrich our lives in a way that is difficult to explain.
- We recently lost our beloved greyhound, Banjo, at the age of 15 so at this juncture in my life I’m ever more sentimental around dogs.
- I’m a fierce advocate for the fair, humane and ethical treatment of all animals and will not support any organization that I feel doesn’t share those values.
OK, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s have a candid discussion about sled dogs shall we? We’ve all heard the horror stories about the treatment of sled dogs (and all dogs for that matter) over the years. Like anything, there will always be horrible circumstances (and crazy people) that cast a negative shadow over entire industries but we’re here to give you a happy story…and a happy story is exactly what this is.
Muddy Paw Sled Dog is a dog sled kennel and sled dog rescue facility located in New Hampshire. They are currently home to over 80 sled dogs!
Things You Need To Know About Sled Dogs
We had the absolute pleasure of meetings one of the two-leggers (Wes) and all of the four-leggers. In true form, I asked about 8 million questions and Wes graciously answered them all.
Sled Dogs Are Happy & Friendly
A common misconception is that sled dogs are vicious…or that lead dogs are vicious. Not at Muddy Paws! I was given the green light to introduce myself, snuggle, and walk right into their “territory” while onsite. Each dog was happy, sweet, and just as excited as I was to snuggle (or dive into my pockets looking for treats).
They Eat Like Royalty
The dogs are fed a diet of high-fat, high-protein kibble mixed with raw food to support their extremely active lifestyles. Every dog was a healthy weight with thick shiny coats.
They LOVE To Run
They aren’t “forced” to fun – they LOVE it! When we walked on site I was shocked at how quiet all 86 dogs were – you would never know they were there until you saw them. But, the second Wes picked up the harness every dog in the kennel jumped to attention, ears perked and put on their very best “show” to get picked for the team.
Sled Dogs Get Rest Days
The run on a rotation with built in rest days like any other athlete. These dogs are born to run – and they’d do it all day everyday if you let them. So, while many people think they’re “forced” to run, it’s actually the opposite – they have to build in rest days because if it were up to the four-leggers, they’d never stop running.
They Live Outdoors, Yes.
One of the things I’ve heard several times now is, “but they live in those tiny houses outdoors all year…it’s awful”.
First of all, they’re sled dogs – not chihuahuas. They’re hardy and fully capable of living outdoors year round. Even knowing this, I asked the question (because I knew it was on everyone’s mind) and was instructed to reach my hand into one of the kennels with a dog in it.
Side Note: That’s how friendly and well socialized these dogs are – you can invade their space, and they’re totally find with it. I just got a little lick on the hand!
It was a cold day, we were bundled up in multiple layers with as little skin showing as possible so I disrobed my hand, exposing my bare skin and stuck my hand in a kennel. Toasty and warm!
The small houses that people get so worked up about are that size by design. The body heat of the dog, keeps their house warm and cozy.
Respect Goes Two Ways
The level of respect between musher and dog was unparalleled. Wes (our musher) had an incredible amount of love, care, and deep respect for his team and vice versa. They don’t rule with an iron fist, their relationship is based on trust, loyalty and unwavering respect for each other. That was easy to see from the moment we walked on site.
Sled Dogs Make Great Pets
Like greyhounds, when sled dogs retire they need a loving home so when I heard that Muddy Paws has an adoption program my heart melted. When the four-legged athletes have had their fill of running, they’re adopted out to forever homes for a cushy retirement.
A hugely gracious thanks to Wes and the team at Muddy Paws for inviting us in, answering all of our questions and allowing us to be part of such a special day with this amazing group of animals. To book your own dog sled tour visit www.dogslednh.com