One of the winter activities planned for my press trip to Umeå and the surrounding area (February 2020) was a dog sled ride. We were expected at the lodge early in the morning (well, around 9am) for the briefing. We were to drive the dog sled with enthusiastic huskies ourselves! I had previously obtained my reindeer driver’s license (basically just a certificate that shows you did this) after a round of reindeer sledding in Finland and had read about a husky ride in advance.
Husky sled and animal welfare
One of my concerns, as always when there is something on the agenda with animals, was whether the animals really like it. In a previous life I worked as a zookeeper in a seal rescue center and although my diploma takes a completely different direction, I there learned a lot about animal behavior and repetitive behavior.
Now, I expected the Scandinavians to work with respect for nature and animals. And that was immediately apparent too. The stories of the dog keepers showed the love for their animals. There was also a lot of transparency. You can just walk between the spacious enclosures of the huskies. That gives confidence.
Moreover, despite their hard work, the enthusiasm of the animal keepers showed that they only want the best for their animals. So I was immediately reassured. And when I saw the dogs’ enthusiasm to run with the sled, the last doubt was gone. These huskies love to run! That way I could enjoy this husky trip a lot more myself as well.
The brake of the dogsled
The guides explained how we could drive the husky sled. For example, it was important that someone always stood on the brakes when we stood still. So while all the dogs were led to their place in the sled, one of us was on the brakes, while the other was able to greet the dogs. The dogs could barely overcome their enthusiasm to start running and if you let go of the brake, they are gone! We also learned how to help the huskies when it was uphill. Yes, you also have to work when riding a dog sled!
I was quite nervous, but I soon got the hang of it and really enjoyed the environment. Contrary to the snowmobile ride, after a while I was really on my own ease. It was wonderful to work with the huskies.
Through the forest with the huskies
Although it is not difficult, it proofed not to be very easy either. That became clear when the dog sled in front of us tilted. A little later they also didn’t have the brakes properly and the dogs were almost alone! Fortunately, the supervisors were alert. I myself suddenly lost my hat. The husky ride went through the woods, along narrow paths between (and sometimes under) the trees. My hat had been caught by one of the branches of the tree! I didn’t really mind the loss but we made a round back so I could get my hat back. And of course it was better to collect it so it wouldn’t lay around in the woods.
It was a beautiful sunny day and it was not cold at all. Halfway through the tour, we changed drivers and I was allowed to take a seat on the sled. I was able to take some beautiful photos. I even had one of them printed on canvas and I can’t wait to give it a nice place in my new home.
After the dog sled ride, there was still time to pet the animals and take pictures. We talked a bit with the caretakers and then it was time for us for the next activity. I now secretly dream of a multi-day husky trip!
Practical information: dog sledging at Granö Beckasin
At Granö Beckasin you have the choice between 4 options: from an hour and a half to half a day or a full day and an evening trip in the moonlight (with the chance of seeing the northern lights but then you don’t drive yourself). You can borrow warm clothing on the spot. You can also take a husky trip in the summer months. The sled is then on wheels. Prices start from 850 SEK (about 85 euros). More information can be found on their website.
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Special thanks to Visit Umeå