Tesla has ludicrous mode, these things go beast mode - literally
Snowy Owl Tours of Canmore in the province of Alberta, has been family run and operated since 1983. Started by Connie and Charles Arsenault, they are one of the pioneers in the now popular world of “dog sled tours.” Set in the beautiful Canadian Rockies, the tours have been a favorite pastime and experience for many tourists and even locals.
Over 30 years later, Snowy Owl Tours is still in the family, owned by the Arsenault children, Jereme and Carlin Kimble. “From a young age my brother Jereme and I understood what hard work, determination, dedication and responsibility meant,” says Kimble. “We lived our lives outdoors when most kids would watch TV or play inside.” Kimble who now runs the show with her brother recalls what it was like growing up with the sled dogs during the summer. “Laying in the grass in the warm sun and having a bunch of puppies come running over to give me kisses! I’ll never forget those summers and the smell of strawberries - the pups would always find and eat the wild strawberries, this remains the same even today!”
These wild berry-loving pups and the dogs they grow up to be are what makes Snowy Owl Tours so special.
“We have 170 husky heroes,” as Kimble likes to call her pack. On a typical day the dogs wake up at 6 a.m. For breakfast they have a specially made Red Paw kibble and chicken fat meal, but that is just an appetizer. “The pack eats six times a day on average,” says Kimble. “Small portions consisting of high-fat and high-protein nutrients. Their day time snacks consist of hot water, Red Paw kibble, chicken fat and Revive (which is a palatable supplement we use to help our dogs replenish their electrolytes and glycogen lost when exercising,” says Kimble. After this healthy, hydrating snack, the more “treat” treats come out. Snowy Owl sled dogs’ favorite treats are chicken wings, tripe, sardines, pork fat and beef fat. Yum!
It isn’t just the food that makes a Snowy Owl sled dog, it takes courage, strength and strong mind, but they also have to be ridiculously good looking. “Well, everything a sled dog is has been bred into them for hundreds of years,” Kimble points out. “So working-wise, it is a part of their genetic makeup already, but to be a Snowy Owl sled dog? We breed for disposition and strong physical attributes such as coat, feet and build, but most importantly, companionship.”
This companionship and ability to stop and snuggle at any moment, is a very unique attribute of the Snowy Owl pack, although there are a few who are a bit shy. These bashful few wear bandanas to indicate their farouche, but any dog who is not wearing a bandana is a 100 percent cuddle pup and just love to be loved.
Treat/bone time, free running and grooming time are the Snowy Owl dogs’ favorite pastimes. But they of course are the happiest when they are working. How much a dog works really depends on age and personal ability. “It is my job to ensure that our pack is well-rested and worked without over-doing either,” says Kimble. “Too much rest would mean energetic, unhappy dogs and overworking them would mean unhappy, tired dogs. Neither are an option for us so we ensure they have their needs met based on their individual capabilities.”
Just like a sports team, the dogs have substitutes or “spare dogs” for their working shifts. The Snowy Owl staff watch closely for any dogs that might get injured, especially some of the older dogs to make sure they are balanced and healthy.
“Most our dogs can run 40 km in a day with a minimum of four hours with one-hour rests. Others may only run 10 km in a day and that is all they need,” says Kimble. “We have to be careful with dogs who are overachievers. To us that is dangerous and not encouraged. We do have dogs who outshine others in leadership roles or consistency, however, our whole pack gets the same care and love, no one is more important than another.”
On the flip side, there are some less-willing pups. “Not every sled dog embraces the desire to run and pull,” jokes Kimble, “but these dogs are far from lazy, rather they have just chosen to do other forms of activity.” When the Snowy Owl staff we see a dog who isn’t super excited to work but thrilled to free run, they know that the dog would fair much better in a house being a pet rather than living in a working pet home. “Careful selection and a long adoption process proves to find a less-willing sled dog or our retired sled dogs a new forever home,” Kimble tells us.
Which leads to the end of a dog’s career. “We adopt and re-home our husky heroes to people we trust and have carefully screened. Our adoption process is a long one to ensure the best match for each dog. If we do not find a suitable home for a dog, then they will stay with us and become the even more spoiled ones!” laughs Kimble.
To learn more about Snowy Owls visit - http://snowyowltours.com/