Recent archaeological evidence suggests in Arctic regions we've had working relationships with dogs for at least 4,000 years. Clearly, people could not survive in the vast north without the help of these amazing animals.
The Canadian Indian and Inuit were the first to use huskies to survive. For example the western horse,is a Spanish import. They've only been here for approx. 400 years old. The dog has been the "beast of burden" ten times longer in North America - and most likely all around the globe especially Arctic regions.
Our vast Canadian panorama was explored and charted using huskies originally belonging to the natives. By 1873, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were using Husky puppies for transportation and patrol.
The Yukon gold discovery of 1898 added great popularity to Husky puppies. Thousands of Canadians, Americans and Europeans briefly streamed into far north-western Canada.
These men quickly came to realize the necessity of using Husky puppies to ensure a strong dog team. Many chose to bring some of their four-legged companions back home.
In the frequent and famous first explorations of the Arctic and Antarctic polar regions Husky puppies were essential for explorations.
These Husky puppies were used by Richard Byrd, Robert Peary and Ronald Amundsen. This brought even more notoriety to the husky breeds. These numerous expeditions gained more attention and renown to the endurance of the husky breeds.
The lore of the sled dog of the far north reached a climax a decade later. The American, Jack London wrote stories like "White Fang" and "Call of the Wild". These made him a bestselling author in the world for nearly a decade.
The main reason that these Husky puppies were chosen for pulling sleds was that other breeds could not withstand the harsh climate and terrain.
There emerged several breeds of dogs specifically adapted to snow conditions sub-degree temperatures.
The Canadian Eskimo Dogs, for example, have distinct, inherent characteristics differing from other huskies relating to their sense of wildlife detection and ice conditions.
At Snowy Owl they are still breeding and using these bloodlines based on their unique abilities.
Dog Team Members
Dog team members are given titles according to their position in the team relative to the sled. These include leaders or lead dogs, swing dogs, team dogs, and wheelers or wheel dogs.
Lead dogs steer the rest of the team and set the pace. Leaders may be single or double; the latter is more common now. Single leaders used to be more common during the mid-twentieth century.
Qualities for a good lead dog are intelligence, initiative, common sense, and the ability to find a trail in bad conditions.
Swing dogs or point dogs are directly behind the leader (one dog if the team is in single hitch). They swing the rest of the team behind them in turns or curves on the trail. (Some mushers use the term swing dog to denote a team dog.)
Team dogs are those between the wheelers and the swing dogs, and add power to the team. A small team may not have dogs in this position. Alternately, the term may be used to describe any dog in a dog team.
Wheel dogs are those nearest the sled, and a good wheeler must have a relatively calm temperament so as not to be startled by the sled moving just behind it. Strength, steadiness, and ability to help guide the sled around tight curves are qualities valued in "wheelers."
Dog sled teams
They are put together with great care. Putting a dog sled team together involves picking good Husky puppies for leader dogs, point dogs, swing dogs, and wheel dogs. The lead dog is very treasured, and seldom will mushers ever let these dogs out of their sight.
Trained lead dogs become part of the family household. Also important is to have powerful wheel dogs to pull the sled out from the snow.
Point dogs (optional) are located behind the leader dogs. The swing dogs are between the point and wheel dogs. The team dogs are all other dogs in between the wheel and swing dogs. These Husky puppies are selected for their endurance, strength and speed.
Snowy Owl Tours' teams of dogs are comprised of Siberian Huskies and the Canadian Inuit which are closely related to the Alaskan Husky and Alaskan Malamute. Beautiful dogs.
The Experience with Husky Puppies!!!
We drove to the office in Canmore.
The tour takes you out on a shuttle to the site (about 30-40 minutes).
Along the way, the driver shares some interesting details about the company and the area.
Once you arrive, you get a chance to introduce yourself to the Husky puppies, and the staff give you a 30 minute instruction on all you need to know!
In fact we were given the opportunity to harness the dogs. They knew something was up and it was very difficult to get these harnesses on. The dogs are all very well socialized and quiet actually, until they get the sense that it is almost time to get going!
I must admit the dogs were a lot smaller than I thought they would be....but they have biggest hearts when it comes to running....
Once you are assigned your sled it doesn't take long to get going! The really great thing about this trip is that you get to drive your own sled while your partner is in the sled! This is an amazing opportunity!!!
What's really funny... the dogs can tell if you are comfortable in what you are doing. They'll sometimes turn around and all look at you, if you stop for no reason!
The views along the way are amazing even if you are used to living near the mountains! On our trip, it was only about minus 9 C or so, butmit was snowy.....we didn't mind one bit!
You have so much fun that it doesn't seem to matter how cold it is or if it is snowing hard...it's just a great experience!
The staff is wonderful, friendly, patient and have a great sense of humour.
The only down fall is sometimes there may be someone in front of you who isn't so comfortable with the concept. They stop frequently or perhaps don't have the stamina to help the dogs get the sled up some minor slopes. So, given this, you have to be a bit patient with some.
I have to say that Snowy Owl gave us more than what we expected. Our gift certificate was for the Gold package. We were able to take a sled on our own and it was incredible.
The guides were excellent. We had a brief instruction period before we set out and they stopped at critical points in the tour to make sure everyone was ok. We was comfortable every step of the way.
We had the opportunity to visit the kennel and it was obvious that the dogs are very well cared for. All of the dogs were very friendly, healthy and happy
We were warm and cozy through it all....I would recommend this tour to anyone!!!
What to Wear - What not to Wear
While enjoying the day with those Husky Puppies...
We all know that when one is cold it becomes more of a challenge to enjoy your trip!
What fabrics and systems to stay away from:
No Cotton. Once cotton gets wet, whether it’s from sweating or precipitation from the environment, it will remain wet.
This will in turn cause you to get cold. We recommend staying away from cotton fabrics especially when used for your hands or feet.
Too many layers. It is important to understand that the more layers you put on your feet, core and hands, the more they will restrict movement in these areas. One key factor in staying warm is movement, which means your blood needs to circulate.
For example, if you have 3 layers of gloves on your hands your fingers will not be able to move, causing less circulation, resulting in cold fingers.
We recommend using one thick pair of mitts or gloves in conjunction with a thin inner silk, wool or synthetic liner. Usually if you only paid $12.00 for the gloves you are wearing, chances are they won’t keep your hands all that warm especially around temperatures of -10 C or colder.
Keeping your natural fibre layers closest to your skin. Natural layers like down, wool, fur or silk, work by absorbing your body heat. If you put a windproof material jacket on top of your long underwear and then put your down jacket on as the outer layer, you’re probably going to feel the cold.
Down is the insulator therefore should be next to your skin, while nylon with Teflon, Gore-Tex etc. will shield your inner layer from the outer elements, and it is to be used effectively only as you’re most outer layer.
Tennis shoes or sneakers, any boots without winter insulation or do not rise past your ankles, summer hiking boots, dress shoes of any type, high heel shoes or boots and any shoe/boot without a substantial grip should be avoided.
Jeans; sweat pants, dress pants, leggings, and skirts should be avoided in a wilderness winter setting. However, if you have proper insulated Gore-Tex, water/windproof snow pants to pull on over your jeans, sweats or skirt, you would be more prepared.
Examples of fabrics and protection to wear on your sled dog adventure:
Wool, fleece, silk, down and Gore-Tex
Long underwear, also known as a second skin. If they have worked for you in skiing and snowboarding then they will be appropriate for dog sledding as well
A light fleece, sweat to cover over top of your long underwear bottoms
A light fleece jacket or warm sweater over top of your upper long underwear
A down jacket or warm Gore-Tex, water/wind proof insulated jacket for your outer layer. Your jackets should have a high neck, reaching your chin for protection from the elements.
Medium to thick wool socks are the best in our experience
Winter boots, preferably rated for -30C
Balaclava or scarf for your face
Warm toque that covers your ears
Warm mitts or gloves (Need to be insulated)
Ski Goggles or protective sun glasses
Sunscreen and lip protection
Snowy Owl provides warm Glacier Sorel Boots for hire at our retail store which you will be stopping by prior to your tour. If you require boots for your tour with us, be sure to inform your van driver before arriving to the office.
If you hope to enjoy your experience in dog sledding, you will want to be warm and need to wear the proper clothing, otherwise expect to have a chilly ride!
Dress as if you were going skiing into the back country
Snowboarding boots are allowed but not ski boots
Feel free to bring a day pack with additional beverages, snacks and/or other clothing as there is plenty of room in the sleds. However, we ask that you only bring what you need, as travel cases etc. are not permitted.
AND, don’t forget your camera!!!!
If you do not have any clothing contact us at (403) 678-4369 or TOLL FREE: 1-888-311-MUSH (6874) or email at email@example.com, we will direct you to a winter gear rental shop.
The Dog Sled Trips include....
All our tours begin with a 30 minute introduction.
There's also information on the sport and historic traditions of dog sledding.
For our guests safety, including those cute Husky puppies, enjoy the following exclusive opportunities:
Relax in a cozy sled having one of our instructors drive your dog team
Drive your own dog team "one-on-one" with your instructor
Only Snowy Owl has the touring expertise to allow you to drive your very own dog team with the company of your family and friends following closely behind instructor.. Ya "hoot"
The powder Hound Express (2 hours)
At the half way point, take in the radiant views of the mystic Goat Pond while you embrace your new Husky puppies. You will really come to admire their focus and stamina.
At the end of the trail, gather around a warm, cozy fire for stories while sipping hot beverages and sampling our famous “mystery cookies”.
Tour times departing from our trail head in the Spray Lakes: 9am, 11am, 1pm and 3pm. Trail length: Approx. 10kms
The Sunfeather Winterlude (4 hours)
Take time off the sled to truly capture the astounding beauty of the day, including your newly established canine-friendships. Enjoy photographing your favorite husky puppies and inspiring scenic views.
As your instructor prepares our famous Native Canadian Lunch for you, sip delicious hot beverages and enjoy. It's time to gather around the welcoming fire and indulge in some traditional Canadian cuisine!
Afterwards, take in the incredible panoramic views while traversing the magnificent Goad Pond or Spray Lakes. Finish your program with another cozy fire and laughter in sharing your experience with others while selecting the perfect photo.
Spirit of the Dog Society (8 Hours)
While on the trail, take a break to treat your powerful, enthusiastic team while you also enjoy a hot beverage and delicious snack. Leap into action as your Husky puppies regain full command towards the half way point! Here, un-harness the huskies and load them in their cozy “home on wheels” to snooze between trails.
Cozy-up to a crackling bonfire and stories while enjoying your delicious Native Canadian Lunch, not forgetting the sweets of course!
After lunch, it’s time to harness your Husky puppies for the remarkable trek to Fortune Mountain! As we glide through the pristine powder of Spray Lakes West Trail...it's so quiet. Watch for White Tail or Mule Deer, Elk, Moose, Lynx, Cougar and the elusive Wolf. It's amazing!
You can take a look at all the husky puppies in their kennels after your tour is done!
Tour times departing from our trail head in the Spray Lakes:
9am and returning at 5pm. Trail length: Approx. 45kms
The Flight of the Great Snowy Owl (2.5 or 4.5 Hours)
We offer this program as a 2.5 hour tour where you can enjoy all features of the “Powder Hound Express” or a 4.5 hour tour where you can enjoy all features of the “Sunfeather Winterlude.”The helicopter is flying you to or from the dog sledding site. Flight duration is Approx: 30 minutes.
"Looking for a unique gift for your family and friends? Why not give them the gift of adventure with Snowy Owl Sled Dog Tours! Gift Certificates are available for all tours, please contact us if you would like further information or to purchase yours today!