Martock hosts dozens of dogs, owners at weekend mushing jamboree

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Martock hosts dozens of dogs, owners at weekend mushing jamboree

Huskies, Jack Russells and mixed-breed dogs of all varieties hit the trails at Ski Martock's Ontree adventure park in Windsor, N.S., this weekend for some mushing action.

The second year of the East Coast Mushing Jamboree saw numbers increase to 43 entrants and their dogs, up from 27 last year, said Shelly Repchull of East Coast Mushing.

"It's so exciting, we have mushers from New Brunswick, P.E.I. and across Nova Scotia," she said as racers and their dogs prepared for events including skijoring and canicross during the two-day event.

​"It's not your traditional mushing, it is micro mushing. It involves household dogs," she said.

Skijoring, derived from the Norwegian word skikjøring, is a combination of cross-country skiing and dog sledding. Canicross is the sport of running with dogs.

In the events, the human participants typically wear a waist belt, the dog a harness, and the two are joined by a bungee cord or elastic line.

Age requirement for dogs

Animals must also be at least be 18 months of age and Repchull said any dog that likes to pull and get out and be active can do it.

Marion Moeller and her two dogs travelled from Sussex, N.B., to participate.

"They are really anxious to run, they love to pull. We've been training really hard, they've trained the last nine weeks for this and they're ready to go," she said.

"They'll start off at 15 kilometres per hour and settle into eight."

Moeller's dogs, who appeared to be Jack Russell terriers, aren't big animals, but that's OK, said Repchull.

"A dog can generally pull three times its weight. That's the guide that we use," she said.

Training and safety are emphasized, Repchull said.

"You have to train your dogs to pull, to learn their commands.The mushers are very well trained. They make sure there are no tangles before they depart," she said.

"We have our marshall and dog handlers to lead the teams out, to make sure the dogs are all set to go."

The reaction of the dogs shows what they think of the sports, said Repchull.

"When they come across the finish line, the dogs, their tongues are hanging out and they look so happy," she said.