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 dogsled 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
Transcontinental Media 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
"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
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.
"Dogsledding 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," said 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 dogsledding 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."
Where: Ski Wentworth
When: Rides are offered every half hour starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday and
Sunday by professional dogsled teams
Registration: Pre-registration is required by calling 548-2089 extension 222
or visit the information counter in the ski hill lodge
Who: Rob and Louise Cooke and their Siberian huskies
Maximum: One adult or two children per sled
Cost: $25 per person
Important note: Participants take the ski lift to the top of the trail but
must be able to ski down a beginner trail to get back to the lodge at the
bottom of the hill.
For more information: www.skiwentworth.ca
Quote: "They can run 30 or 40 miles without stopping... It's really pretty
impressive to watch." Rob Cooke