This post is going to be a little different than the ones I usually write. TouriungNH.com, so far, each post has been about a specific town. In this post, I want to tell you about an amazing adventure I had. Last week, I drove to Jefferson, NH to visit Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel. After the snow melts, they puts wheels on the sleds and do summer sledding! I had never really given much thought to what sled dogs did in the summer. Muddy Paw has to be one of the coolest places I’ve visited since I began this blog!
I was met at the kennel by AJ, she is a pure dog lover and it shows!!!!
And the dogs clearly return the love and affection. Muddy Paw has over 130 dogs, ranging from puppy to retired to rescue. They have Malamutes, Alaskan Husky, Siberian Husky and crossbred. They also run a non profit organization – the NH Sled Dog Rescue, History, and Education Center. Several of their dogs have run in the Iditarod and they have a pair of somewhat famous brothers, Gonzo and Poncho. There have been quite a few magazine articles written about these two amazing Alaskan Huskies. Gonzo is blind but was unhappy living the retired life. The vet suggested letting him run with his brother and what happened is nothing short of miraculous! Poncho helps guide Gonzo on the trails and Gonzo couldn’t be happier. The Aiken Standard wrote a great article that is certainly worth the read!
AJ introduced me to some of the dogs and after a quick safety talk, she introduced me to the summer sled, explaining all of the parts and how they work, answering every question I had with an obvious thorough knowledge of the sport.
The next step was to begin harnessing and hitching our 8 dog team. AJ told me that if I was comfortable doing so, I was more than welcome to help with the process. When the dogs saw that we had harnesses in hand, every dog in the kennel started to bark excitedly, as if to say “Pick me, pick me” AJ had decided, before I arrived, which 8 dogs would be our team. She showed me how to put on the harness and walk the dogs to the sled and hitch them. The dogs are so eager, once the harness is over their heads, they almost hop on their front feet trying to help get their legs through the harness. It’s actually quite comical. There could be no doubt that these dogs LOVE what they do.
AJ explained to me that almost every command is given with a certain tone of voice. Several times during our trip, she stopped the dogs to give them a brief rest before we were off again. When we resumed our trip the first time, in an excited and higher pitched voice she said “Are we ready!”, the dogs responded by leaping into action. The next time we stopped, she used the same tone and said “Bacon and eggs!” with the same response from the team. She called praise and encouragement to the team frequently, almost always calling them by name. I joined in on the praising and encouragement and the team responded even more eagerly. The team can sense the excitement and fun in your voice and they react! At one of the stops, there was a large puddle and the team enjoyed a cool down…
At the half-way point, AJ stopped the team and set the “parking brake”, she had me hold the hand brake while she filled water bowls for the team. They drank their fill and we were off again. The team, knowing they were in the home stretch, really laid it on. Dinner was waiting for them back at the kennel and they were ready for it. As we returned to the kennel, we were greeted by a barking chorus welcoming us back. I helped AJ unhitch and unharness the team and return them to their kennels, with lots of praising, belly rubs and ear scratching. By the time everyone was back in their kennel, I was laughing so hard at their antics I couldn’t take pictures. I never knew I could have that much fun with our 4 legged friends!
These are just a few of the amazing dogs at Muddy Paw (I hope everyone will forgive me for not being able to remember the names. I was impressed as AJ walked through the kennels and spoke to every dog by name)…
I never knew that these breeds came in such an array of colors and markings. Everyone of them gorgeous. Then…some ofthe puppies…TOO cute!
THANK YOU!!!! Muddy Paw, I had an awesome time!!!! I can’t wait to come back and do some winter dogsledding!
The next time you are looking for something to do, make a reservation at Muddy Paw for a sled ride…you won’t regret it!!!