Runnin' with the dogs

Jason Malloy
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Shubenacadie man develops a passion for dog sledding

Runnin' with the dogs

WENTWORTH - Rob and Louise Cooke are dog lovers.
They have 29 - yes, that's right - 29 Siberian huskies at their Shubenacadie home that they raise and compete in dog sled races. It started innocently enough about a decade ago for the United Kingdom couple.
Rob was in the military and wanted to get a dog to keep Louise company. They settled on a husky, but were soon told they needed more than one.
"As soon as I started running the dogs ... I knew I loved it," Rob told the Truro Daily News on Wednesday.
"It's hard to describe, (but) being out on the trail just me and the dogs is something special. You get kind of a bond with the dogs and you're also away from civilization.
"It's really addictive. Once you start doing it you just can't stop."
Racing the dogs in the U.K. was much different than in Canada. Due to a lack of snow they do not use sleds. Instead, three-wheel carts are pulled by the dogs.
The couple decided to immigrate to Canada about four years ago and really fell in love with the country.
The dogs were in the limelight last weekend in Wentworth providing sled rides to people atop the ski hill.
"It was the first time we've ever done it. It was a lot of fun," Rob admitted. "We really enjoyed it and the dogs really had a good time. They loved meeting all the people, especially all the kids."
Teams of eight dogs took people on the 20-minute ride through the six-kilometre cross-country ski trail atop Ski Wentworth. Rob said it was a beautiful trail with a variety of terrain.
They will be offering the rides for a fee this weekend as well.
"Dog sledding is one of those uniquely Canadian experiences that you only see on TV or read about in the paper. But how many people have actually had the opportunity to go for a dog sled ride?" asked Ski Wentworth general manager Leslie Wilson. "We're very fortunate to be able to offer this bit of Canadiana over the March break."
A member of the hill's ski patrol has been guiding expeditions across the Canadian wilderness for more than seven years.
"It's the lure of dog sledding and working with the animals that drew me in," said Truro native Michael Stratton.
"It's a completely different experience than riding anything else. It's exhilarating, yet quiet. You really have to experience it for yourself. Watching the dogs running in sequence is what I really enjoy."

jmalloy@trurodaily.com

Organizations: Truro Daily News

Geographic location: Shubenacadie, United Kingdom, Canada

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