If you're looking for an activity to take you back in time, connect with nature and play with fluffy furballs, do I have an activity for you or what! Dogsledding was a way of life in Northern Canada. With the landscape covered in a snowy tundra, there really was only one way to get around – a wooden sled, a pack husky dogs and you bundled up in your warmest clothes. Today, well heated seats and SUVs have taken over but there's something special about taking a step back in time and going mushing.
During my latest adventures to Quebec and the Saguenay region, I had the opportunity to go dogsledding with Plein Air de l'Anse (rebranded to Entre Chien et loup) where I have nothing but good things to say about them. In addition to experience itself, we had the opportunity to eat a fabulous lunch in one of their houses cooked by their very own Chef Jojo. I also got to borrow better boots after they determined the ones I had wouldn't be warm enough. You can really tell the passion that they put into their way of life and love they put into their dogs.
5. Enjoy remarkable winter landscapes
Whether sledding through the woods or out in the open, everywhere you turned, there was beauty all around in the snow capped land. It was the perfect combination of the sun glittering in the sky with snowflakes dancing in the air and landing on the untouched fresh powder.
4. Dogsledding is no walk in the park
What surprised me most about mushing itself was how much skill is required. When I say that, I mean it in a good way because I actually had to actually work with the dogs and sled to get where I wanted. In Saguenay, we were sledding on twisting and winding groomed trails all throughout the backcountry so you really had to learn how to shift your weight as you would skiing to make sure your sled also turns appropriately. If you don't, there is the chance to flip.
While dogsledding you'll also learn when to brake, when to get off the sled to help push, and how to use voice commands like “Go!” and “Slow!” (in a super quiet voice) to control the sled and your pack of dogs.
Maybe it's just me but having that kind of control made the ride that much more thrilling.
FACT: The term “mushing” originates from the French explorers that settled in Canada. The world “marche” is meant to be “go” or “run” to get the dogs to start pulling. The English and their poor pronunciation turned “marche” into “mush” and that's how the word came to be.
3. Play with the friendliest dogs
I'm not a dog person per say but I had so much fun playing with these dogs before we started our journey. Despite being much larger and furrier versions of your urban dog, never once did any bark or growl at me. Instead, the exact opposite happened. One guy followed my GoPro camera around to no end and others kept wanting to lick me in the face or trade paws for hand-shakes.
The best dogs to be around are the pups that roam around freely. If you watch the video above, the cutest thing during our excursion was how one of the young dogs followed us the whole way through. I'm sure all he wanted was to be part of the team.
All you're going to want to do when hanging out in their pen is to go “Awww!”
2. The dogs are itching to run
They're cute and cuddly but once they see their owner getting the sled ready they're all business. You'll hear them howling and barking as if to say “Pick me! Pick me!”. As natural-born athletes, these dogs are high energy workhorses and have it engrained in their DNA to run and pull sleds. So don't feel bad because you're actually giving them an opportunity to do what they want to do which is to get their sprint on.
1. Disconnect and reconnect with nature
The best part about dogsledding is just getting out of your element and take in the whole experience of the landscape, breathing in the crisp fresh air, listening to the beating of the paws in the snow, handling the sled. During the two hours while sledding, all I had to worry about was getting from A to B without any other care in the world. Now that's what a real vacation is about right?
Need to know before you go
Plein Air de l'Anse (rebranded to Entre Chien et loup)
- Address – 190 Chemin Perigny, L'Anse St. Jean, Quebec, G0V 1J0
- Phone – 418-272-15407
- E-mail – [email protected]
- $95 + tax for 1/2 day discovery dogsledding package (the one I did)
- $195 + tax for the full day
- Multi-day dogsledding expeditions and snowshoeing are available
- You can stay at their chalet for $75 per person which includes the room, breakfast and dinner
- 30% deposit required when booking
- Like with everything in Quebec in the winter, you're going to want to dress in layers.
- The good thing about Plein Air de l'Anse is that if you're missing good boots or gloves, they have them on hand to borrow at no extra cost.