One Unforgettable Morning Dog Sledding in Big White.
Having spent almost 12 months in Canada, I had ticked off most Canadian experiences. Skiing multiple resorts across British Columbia and Alberta, eating poutine and drinking delicious Okanagan wine, Snow Biking, and Cat Skiing in the legendary Selkirk Mountains. But I hadn’t yet ticked off Dog Sledding. It was something I had thought I’d wanted to do for a while. What held me back was my concern about the welfare of the dogs and the cost of the tour.
Both of those concerns were smashed to smithereens.
The dog sledding tours at Big White Ski Resort are run by Tim, from Candle Creek Kennels. A lovely man, who has an incredible relationship with all 32 dogs in his team. All of the dogs are visibly healthy, happy and extremely friendly.
Meeting the Team.
To start the tour, Tim will take you around the kennel and introduce you to each and every dog, telling you their names, their background and something funny about their personality. I was in dog heaven! I couldn’t believe how friendly they all were. As soon as they realise you are there to see them, they get very excited.
They all love a big cuddle and a butt scratch, so prepare to give them out. Some of them aren’t shy about it either. They will cutely wag their tails and turn their backs to you, turning around to smile and ask for a butt scratch. It’s bloody adorable!
What I loved about Tim’s operation is that most of the dogs are adopted and trained to become sled dogs. Some of the dogs in Tim’s team are retiree’s from the Yukon Quest, a 1,000 mile dog sled race!
When it comes time for harnessing the dogs to the sled, they all go crazy. Barking, howling and running around basically begging, ‘Pick me! Pick me!’. However, with only 8 dogs to a sled, obviously they have to wait their turn. You can tell each and every one of them love their job, and can’t wait to get out for a run.
Time for a Run.
With the dogs harnessed, and us in the sled, Tim gives the call and the dogs take off. I was surprised at how quick they actually were. The trail runs through the forest, winding up and down hill for 7 kilometres. The dogs get to take breaks often throughout the trail, to catch their breath and eat some snow (a cooling method of theirs). Once again, the energy of the dogs is awesome. It’s so nice to see how happy they are to be put to work.
Tim also gets you out of the sled to each take turns at mushing. Or more realistically standing on the side of the sled pretending to mush. But hey, it is cool to get a chance to experience the tour from another angle, and feel what it’s like to stand on the back of the sled.
We spent about 30 minutes out on the trail, before heading back to the kennel to finish the tour. We were soaked to the bone (it was almost raining for us), and freezing cold, BUT it was definitely a highlight of this whole season.
Was it Worth the Price?
The cost of training, vetting, and feeding each dog costs in between $1000 and $1500 yearly. With 32 dogs in the kennel, a small fee of $250 per tour is completely justifiable. You can tell that these guys aren’t in it for the money. Every cent goes back into the dogs.
Would I Recommend It?
Well, that seems like a silly question after everything I’ve just said. But yes! 100% yes, I would recommend Tim’s tour. Save some money in the holiday budget for this experience. There’s nothing much more Canadian than dog sledding, and it is an experience you’ll never forget!