Skiing and Dogs

For many years, my daily ski partner was my trusty black lab, Zeek. He loved the ski to Avalanche Pass, or any other backcountry ski excursion where he could sniff around in the woods while I climbed slowly to the height of land. Then he would sprint ahead of me on the downhills, until it got so steep and I was skiing so fast that he couldn’t stay ahead. Then I’d tag him on the way by and say “eh-heh, I win.” That game ended when the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation passed a leash-law for the High Peaks region of the state. Now you must have your dog leashed at all times while in the High Peaks region of the Adirondack backcountry. While that new regulation was a bummer for us dog owners, it inspired many of us to pay more attention to something that some dog-owning cross-country skiers did for fun; Skijoring. Skijoring is great fun if your dog will participate. Most dogs will pull if trained properly. My friend, Denise, outfits everyone here in the Adirondacks, and in other parts of the world via her website, adirondackskidog.com, with all the proper equipment required to participate. It is important to buy the right size harnesses, etc., for the specific dog. I was reminded of this fun Adirondack activity a few weeks ago when I saw a large number of dogs and skiers on the ski trails at Mount Van Hoevenberg (MVH). Normally, dogs are not allowed at MVH, but there was a Skijoring event in progress that day. I didn’t tell the current resident black lab that I saw dogs skiing since he would have been quite put out that he didn’t get to go. He wouldn’t have been allowed anyway since he is one of those dogs who is either too smart or was not trained properly. He has his own lovely, custom-fitted harness system and all the right makings to be a super deluxe skijoring dog; he is big and strong, weighs nearly 100 lbs, and has a great deal of energy. But he sits down and refuses to pull as soon as he feels tension on the harness. Usually, however, skijoring is a great way to spend time outside with your pet while you both get some exercise. Give it a try next time you are in the Adirondacks!

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