During our travels in the Swedish arctic in search of the Aurora Borealis, we spent many days out in the gorgeous landscape. On one of these days, six dogs toured us around on our two-person sled.
The leaders of our sled day, and the dogs’ trainers, told us to wait until the dogs were silent before calling out to them to start. The dogs are so eager to run that they jump, bark and yelp in anticipation. The owners want to ensure that the dogs associate quiet and order with the pleasure of running.
Once the dogs became still and attentive, we called out and they leapt forward. They were running full-tilt instantly, tails wagging all the way.
At one point during the outing, we all stopped in an open snow-covered spot. Suddenly many of the dogs, including “ours,” started pulling to the left and barking. We held the sled in place while the owners coerced the dogs back onto the track. Apparently, a vulnerable reindeer was standing in the nearby woods, attracting the eager attention of the dogs.
Once back at home base, we were instructed to give “our” dogs a post-run massage; it is important to help relax the dogs’ muscles after the exertion and assist their circulation from feet back to heart. We were instructed to massage the front legs from feet up, then down the back from head to tail, and finally the back legs from feet up. The dogs were in heaven! They nuzzled us, licking, tails wagging furiously.
Oh yeah, and we saw some moose sauntering by across the nearby frozen lake. Just another day…