Cross-country skiing with man’s best friend

Congratulations to all the athletes at this year’s Noquemanon Ski Marathon. Superior Timing has latest results available online here.

One of the newest additions to the weekend slate pitted man against trail, with a little help from a furry friend.

Cross-country skiing is no easy feat.

With time and a little guidance, you can eventually find your stride and ride off into the majestic beauty of the forest.

But, why do it alone when you can bring a friend?

“The dogs are just as excited as their humans to go out and play,” laughed Nikki Dewald, a member of the Noquemanon Skijor Club.

They even gear up just like their owners before heading out onto the trails in tandem formation.

“A lot of people think that you’re cheating, but really you match the speed of the dog. If the dog’s moving – you powerhouse, too. When the dog takes a rest and slows down – you slow down and take a rest, too. If the dog gets tired and it is a point where you need to keep moving, you’re there for encouragement or they’re pulling you giving you the encouragement you need,” Dewald added.

Although one dog usually has enough moxie to keep you moving, adding to the pack can throw a little fuel on their fire.

“It’s just as fun for the dogs to be with each other,” noted Dewald. “It does help to have a group go out. We can have anywhere from ten dogs to three dogs. Some people do run two dogs at a time. Whoever is out in front is the carrot, and everybody else is trying to say ‘Hello’ and keep up.”

As long as your dog weighs more than 35 to 40 pounds and loves to exercise, they’ll make a perfect running mate.

“Ironically, I had an older dog,” Dewald remarked. “Basically, he would go four-wheel driving off the trail and things like that. So, I started Skijoring to keep him on the trail. Then, it just went from there.”

Now Nikki meets with a group of fellow Skijorers every Tuesday during the winter season.

They’re always looking for more members, so if you want to join all you need is a sled dog harness, a line, and a Skijor belt to strap on.

The three most important things to remember when Skijoring on the trails are:

  1. Be mindful of your dog’s behavior.
  2. Be respectful of other trail users.
  3. Clean up after your dog.

If the conditions are right and you feel up to the challenge, try your hand at one of winter’s newest trends.