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Elias after a run.

Nahanni and Touvik
Nahanni & Touvik in tandem lead.

Preston, after a Sacco Cart run.

Flip makes a friend
Flip still loves visiting schools, but prefers to stay in her box.

Ilyaga' favorite rock.
Ilyaga perched on her favorite boulder.

Hobbes the cat decides which dogs are house dogs.Hobbes

Hobbes thinks the Mars Rover descent is very cool.

Ilyaga, the little engine that could.

Laska nearing the end of a dryland gig run October 2005.

Murron on top of her doghouse with some Halloween pumpkin.

Dawson trying out lead.

Weasel napping in the house.

Woody, the show ring champion who "screams" to go, when the team stops for a rest.

Dolby at 12, retired but ready to stud.

Frankie & Flip
Frankie (standing) and Flip (lying down) after a fall gig run.

Osceola makes friends
Osceola makes 2 friends at a library program.


WINTER 2022-2023 and BEYOND

We are not offering dogsled rides or skijoring lessons or anything else involving our dogs. 

However, there are some other mushers in Vermont who might still be offering their services--some are members of VOGA (Vermont Outdoor Guides Association)--and some are not.


Stay safe and well--and have a wonderful winter and holiday season and beyond with all good wishes.

Dog hugs

WINTER 2017-2018

Update: We now have some snow--but can not go with you. However, we have posted where you can find another musher or skijorer who might be able to fulfill your wish sometime this winter (or other time in other seasons of the year).

Sorry, but our status hasn't changed from what we posted for last winter (below). Happy trails with good wishes for a wonderful winter season of peace and joy to all.

WINTER 2016-2017

It is now more than five years since Tropical Storm Irene arrived in Vermont (on Aug. 28, 2011). There is no way we could have predicted the impact that storm would have on our lives and way of life with our beloved dogs.

Long story, short, we can't offer you skijoring lessons or a dogsledding ride--but there are other mushers in Vermont who can. Please visit voga.org or do a Google search "skijoring in Vermont" or "dogsledding in Vermont" to generate a list of mushers who are not VOGA members.

Thanks again for contacting Atii Sled Dogs and visiting our website - it means a lot that you did! Please follow us as @9dognight on twitter and facebook. Keep thinking snow. Wishing you Happy Holidays, Happy Solstice, and a wonderful New Year and winter season,

Atii Sled Dogs


July 27, 2013

Many thanks to all who have contacted us. We really appreciate your interest in wanting to be part of an Atii Sled Dog experience and spending time with our canine family. Unfortunately, and sadly, we are not presently able to offer a "hands-on" educational opportunity with our sled dogs. We wish we could! (You have no idea how much Gail wishes for that!)

We are "flooders" from Tropical Storm Irene with ongoing impacts from that storm (2 years ago Aug. 28). The flood damaged house is still a "work in progress." "Mean Irene" affected all parts of our lives--including what we can and cannot do related to our wonderful, happy dogs.

Don't get this wrong. We are not complaining, just explaining. Our canine family is great, always bringing joy and laughter into our lives on a daily basis.

However, due to all the costs with flood repairs and all else life throws our way, we have been unable to replace the dog truck which takes the dogs to schools, organizations and trail heads. Since we cannot offer you what you are looking for, you might want to check out other mushers via VOGA (Vermont Outdoor Guide Association).

A Google search using "dogsledding in Vermont" will generate you a list showing some other mushers who are not members of VOGA. Thanks again for contacting Atii Sled Dogs--it means a lot that you did!

P.S. posted on Aug. 15:

For those of you who knew him well or spent time with him on the trails or at a school or event, it is with heavy hearts that we share the sad news of the unexpected passing of wonderful Osceola (at 13.3 years of age). Please visit our Gone But Not Forgotten page to read more about him. (Daily posts are on Facebook and Twitter.)

Gail and Red

Plus our incredible, much loved, yet sadly shrinking family:

Nahanni—just celebrated her 5 yo birthday. She's such a loving, sweetheart of a dog who loves to climb into a lap and roll for a belly rub. Fast, graceful movements, light on her feet and a powerful runner. Always eager to please. Always attentive with a great tilt of her head as she watches everything intently, inquisitively.

Preston and Elias— brothers, turning 9 yo on Halloween--(our breeding: Frankie x Dolby). These guys look like their parents--Elias looks just like his dad with his quietness. Preston looks more like his mom--and speaks like her, too.

Touvik—turning 11 yo this coming December is a happy boy who loves to play hard with Nahanni and has finally joined in the command/ response game of playing "roof, table, door" with Nahanni and Gail. Best known for playing "pogo stick" and hilariously leap-frogging with Nahanni at their door while waiting for delivery of their meals!

Flip—Oscie's kennel mate has been missing her best pal. She is turning 13 yo in October and retired herself from pulling things a few years ago but is not one to be left behind. She's adjusting to her loss while spending more time than usual with the more exuberant, playful brothers, as well as her humans.

Ilyaga—now totally deaf, but still happy and pretty active at 15 yo. although her naps are getting longer. During walks she will suddenly start pulling and trotting or briefly running--a sled dog true and through. She pulls to the kennel of her choice, letting us know who she wants to visit or if she wants private time outdoors for her digging excavations. She likes to dig out hollows and then lie in that cool bare dirt hole in the shade of the trees--or climb onto the enormous glacier boulder --or sleep in the house on her dog bed or a cool floor for her naps. Our Little Engine That Could. Her name is Inuit, in the Tlinget language meaning "my friend".

Hobbes, the amazing cat without a purr. At age 18 he still runs, leaps, bounds about just like he did as a kitten.He still decides which dogs he trusts to be loose in the house--and now steals their dog kibble from their bowl (or any spilled by a dog) for his amusement and a preferred new food treat. )

FALL/WINTER 2012-2013

December 25, 2012

!he prelude and then the actual arrival of the December solstice and holidays always brings an influx of requests from folks who want to book time with the dogs, get gift certificates for loved ones, and more. Normally, nothing would please me more--but since Mean, Mean Tropical Storm Irene hit Vermont almost 16 months ago, nothing has been what we previously called "normal" at Atii Sled Dogs.

Short of Santa surprising us by delivering a working dog truck or a winning Megabucks/ Powerball lottery ticket, I'm horribly sad to write that we will not be able to offer any dog sled rides, skijoring lessons or related gift certificates during this December-January holiday season--and probably not at all for this winter. If anything changes, we'll post that joyous news.

The dogs are fine, as are we. We are still happy, smiling, feeling lucky and full of gratitude for all that we have in our life with dogs (and the cat).

Please read the previous posts here on this website's "Update" page for more details.

Facebook and Twitter are very frequently updated (minimally weekly if not daily)--which I can't say for the website.

Happy Solstice. May the remainder of the Holiday Season and the New Year bring true, lasting global peace on Earth.

Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012 Small Business Saturday

Today is a day to support local businesses. We certainly hadn't planned on this, but we wound up supporting our small business veterinarian early this morning for 8 yo Elias--who will have surgery on Monday morning (plus pathology) for an ugly, unusual looking tumor that literally, suddenly appeared out of nowhere. Sigh...

Good news: the mass doesn't appear to be attached to muscle or bone; the surrounding lymph nodes feel ok upon gross palpation exam; and it's located in a spot that should suture well for healing. He's not in any pain, is acting perfectly normal and was happy to be going for a ride in the car and seeing people doing errands in the village.

Hobbes, the cat, was unpleasantly surprised and not thrilled to have Elias in the house last night and this morning since Elias thinks cats are to be chased. Happily, Hobbes came back from his safe hiding in the basement much sooner than expected and wisely chose to stay out of the kitchen where Elias was crated.

Things have been up in the air again for us--and not going according to plan. For all the folks who have contacted Atii Sled Dogs wanting to either work as our handler/ helper for this winter, or obtain skijoring gear and/or lessons, or folks wanting our dogs to provide a very special gift for your loved one's birthday: How I wish I could say "yes"!

Another season and another ongoing long sad "tale of woe." Long story short: Very sadly, I cannot yet commit to offering any dog sledding rides for this January--and maybe not at all for this winter. The dog truck is dead--with a broken drive shaft among some other problems that won't let the truck pass inspection in December. The drive shaft is the biggest problem since the truck won't move at all--meaning there is no way to transport our dogs and gear to area trail heads.

With our ongoing rebuilding repairs still happening 15 months post-Tropical Storm Irene's flood damage--and now with Elias's surgery and medical expenses--things are not looking good for replacing the truck. So, as much as I'd love to take folks for the requested b'day rides and December holiday rides, I can't. You better contact another musher for those gifts. Thanks again for thinking of us--and enjoy the winter solstice and holiday season! We are full of gratitude for everyone and everything in our lives--and know how lucky we are to share our life with our dogs and cat. For very frequent updates, news and photos please visit our Facebook page and follow our tweets on Twitter.


May 25, 2012 Update

Frequent information, resources and Internet links related to sled dogs and space education are still being posted on Facebook and Twitter (@9dognight).

Nine months later, and sad to report, but the January 2012 update below is still correct. If we're lucky, maybe the rebuilding, reconstructing, etc. will be done by the Aug. 28th one year anniversary of Tropical Storm Irene. Time will tell. None-the-less, we have no programs or skijoring gear to offer to the public right now or this spring/summer season.

We appreciate the contacts and interest we've received from folks via the phone and email. We are sincerely disappointed and really sorry that we can't accommodate the requests for summer programs for libraries, camps, etc. We hate to have to turn them down but have no choice right now! Time and energy is limited. Gas prices and dog truck repairs are expensive. When it rains it pours--but the good news is that our 7 dogs and 1 cat are happy and well. The 2 alpha humans here still laugh, smile and have gratitude, knowing we're lucky and fortunate. There are lots of folks hurting with truly horrible, enormous losses. We're not complaining--just explaining.


Posted Sunday, January 1, 2012

HAPPY HOLIDAYS to all! MANY huge thanks to everyone who has phoned or emailed us recently inquiring about booking time with our dogs or purchasing gift certificates for a dog fun adventure to give to your loved one(s).

Here’s the news, both good and bad. Let’s start with the best first.

The good news is that Mother Nature is providing us with a white Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year holiday week. The snow began last week and the snowplows have been working on our roads. The local ski areas are blowing snow like crazy. Sugarbush and Mad River Glen are both open. Folks have been x-c skiing at Blueberry Lake Cross-Country Ski Center which was a lovely sight. We need cold temperatures so the ground freezes to make a very firm base for subsequent snow in order to get long lasting snow.

Now on the not so great news.

Due to the Grinch named “Mean, Mean Irene” who viciously attacked our state with the Aug. 28 hurricane, affecting us and many others, we were not able to offer our services for this holiday week period--and will probably not be able to offer any services for all of this winter season. We are at the point that we need more dogs, a larger team, to provide tours for adults via dog sled--and sadly, we are not in a financial position to be able to do so.

We are still working on rebuilding and repairing our flood damaged house in Waterbury. It has been taking a lot more time, energy and money than we anticipated--and we are far behind on trail work and dog training. Don’t worry: the dogs are fine, well fed, healthy, happy and getting love and attention from us--just not the trail time and pre-winter training we normally do. They have lots of room to run and play in our dog yard so they are getting exercise and having fun with each other as they play the dog games they invent.

Santa did give us an early gift: the propane company rejiggered their schedule and got to our flood house before the New Year--instead of in late January or February as they originally told us. Even better: our propane lines were clean and able to be re-used, saving us money. We now have our new replacement propane heater installed and the house has heat once again! That will make it much more comfortable as we continue to work on the never ending list of “to dos”. It has been and continues to be quite the learning experience, but don’t get us wrong--we’re NOT complaining. We feel very lucky in many different ways too numerous to recount here. There are so many other people who are really, really, really hurting. People whose entire homes either literally washed away or were totally demolished--along with all their possessions.

If you can, please help those people (in any way and any amount of time or money). Please contribute to any of the numerous fund raising efforts going on throughout Vermont . If you have helped in any way, THANK YOU! from us and from all of Vermont! Personally, we have much to be thankful for and we are grateful for everything and everyone post-Irene. Thanks to all who helped us muck out and demo the house; provided meals, hugs, pie; donated their time and energy; donated and/or provided discounted materials; all the organizers, HQ coordinators, web resource creators and all else who have done so much daily since day 1 in Aug. There are insufficient words for all the thanks we feel and wish to give.

Here are two pretty powerful videos that were recently posted.

After Irene: Vermont Thanks You


4 Months After Irene


Here’s where and how to help, if you can.

More frequent updates than can be seen here will be on Facebook and on Twitter as @9dognight (Atii Sled Dogs). The website updating is more time consuming than social media.

Have a happy, healthy, joyous new year full of everything you need to get by in life with security--and may we live in a world of peace and abundance of the necessities of life and nature for all.

Gail and Red
Weasel (retired: turned 18!! on Dec. 28),
Ilyaga (13 yo),
Flip (retired, 11 yo),
Osceola (11 yo),
Preston (7 yo) ,
Elias (7 yo),
Touvik (9 yo),
Nahanni (3 yo),
and Hobbes, the cat, age 16

Information below is for historical purposes.


Our sincerest thanks to all the folks who have contacted us or visited our web site. We truly appreciate your interest and thank you for contacting us.

Sadly, at this point in time, we are unable to offer any dog sled rides (and have not been able to throughout this 2010-2011 winter season).

However, we are providing educational programs to schools, libraries and other community groups.

Based on our scheduling, we might be able to offer a "meet and greet" otherwise known as "Everything But a Sled Dog Ride...."

Based on scheduling, we might also be able to offer skijoring lessons to folks with their own dogs who want to learn this sport and train their dogs for skijoring.

WHY: Sadly, we are presently "smaller than we want to be." We are down in our number of dogs which severely limits what we can currently offer--especially with Ilyaga, one of our leaders, needing emergency surgery this past week for a mass we found.

Nahanni, our 2 year old female has come into season--meaning that any and all male dogs (ours and any others) are way too interested in her--so since we are not breeding her now, she is not safe to go out on the trails for 25 days!

That brings us down to 3 reliable working dogs, 1 not quite reliable boy (our late blooming "slow learner"), 1 on medical leave, and two retired seniors. In short, we don't have enough dogs to take passengers out for a ride with us.

In addition, early in the dryland season both humans were recuperating from their own injuries. (Gail managed to break her wrist--on her dominant hand.) That put us way behind in our fall training to get the dogs and us ready for the winter season.

So, that's our tale of woe for this winter. Believe me, we're far more disappointed than you as we love to share the love of our dogs, our sport, way of life and our beautiful trails with guests.

We suggest you visit Vermont Outdoor Guide Association's Dog Sledding page and perhaps another Vermont musher can help you out with a dog sled ride.

Again, thanks for your interest--and keep your fingers crossed for next winter for a ride with us!

December 20, 2009
Seasons Greetings from Atii Sled Dogs!

This is lengthy reading, but gives the answers to the questions about what we can and cannot offer this winter. Things have not been going according to plan for us. That has resulted in tough decisions and adjustments in what we can offer for this winter—but the good news is that we do have offerings. More good news: Mother Nature, Jack Frost, Old Man Winter and Ulyr have been providing the snow and cold to develop the good base Atii Sled Dogs needs for safely running on natural snow trails this winter. At this point in time, due to a series of unfortunate events since last spring, we cannot offer rides in the dog sled, but we can offer everything except the ride itself. Details follow below.


• We will definitely be offering skijoring lessons for the skilled, intermediate or better level x-c skiers who come with their own "pulling" dog. This is for folks who want to learn how to train their dog(s) to do this sport or are just beginning to do this sport.
• The rates listed on our web site page remain the same.
• Reservations including a completed form are required. Advance booking is strongly suggested. The online form contains questions about your dog(s) as well as the human(s). Red will be skijoring with one of our dogs who will help teach your dog. (Our dog “models” for your dog as you all go on the trail together after the instructions and introductory portion of your lesson.)

• We will also definitely continue to offer our educational programs for schools, libraries, scouting groups, winter festivals, resorts and other public groups. (Gail is a former school teacher who has expanded her “classroom”.)
• We will post the public events we're scheduled to be at so you can take a trip from the Valley to visit us there.
• Our programs are tailored for all ages, attention spans and special interests. Q&A time is always included. Programs may be indoors, outdoors or a combination of both. We always bring one dog or more and various gear and equipment (based on the setting, weather, season and safety conditions).
• Simulation programs for students may also be included based on time allotted for our visit(s). We've done multiday visits with one local school (GMVS) during an extended thematic study unit. An educator workshop was provided with continuing online support as we worked with the team of educators for advance planning for this special event. We even did the outdoor component during a major winter storm. It was so successful it was repeated the following year (without the storm, but abundant February snow coverage). We have “repeat schools”always open to adding new schools. References can be provided.

• We were hoping to offer dog sled rides again this winter (2009-2010), but it is not possible due to a series of dog related events. However, there is good news. We will continue to offer the fun experience “Meet the dogs --"Everything But A Ride", just as we did last winter where we meet you at a scenic trail. The schedule will vary —some days, morning and afternoons will be available. (That page, and others, will be updated ASAP this week.) Rates are the same as last year. Please see the web page for details and a reservation form. Please be sure to read the "Everything But A Ride" page for this year's current information.
• The information on our web page dated “2007-08” is not correct for this year but remains available as it has some helpful background information. We'll add an update on our website if things change.

With the economy and recession as it has been, Red and I both had to put in as much time as possible with our “non-dog” jobs to keep the cash flow going for the dogs and normal household expenses, so training time was insufficient and not what we wanted or needed. The rain and mud didn't help. Even worse, and far more significant, we lost two more dogs. We knew we had to decide on the difficult, correct thing for both of them, but it is never easy and it only seems to get harder. Woody left our lives in mid-April 2009 as a retired senior at age 13.8. The following month, we found a tumor on our treasured Frankie (a strong lead dog). After surgery she was fine and happy but eventually developed odd symptoms. She was diagnosed with adrenal problems and finally with an inoperable pituitary cancer that was the ultimate cause of all the problems. We refused to have her suffer at all, so did right by her on Nov. 2. We're still devastated and mourn the loss of both Woody and Frankie. For those of you who met or knew them, we're sorry to share this news. (The funny and happy stories capturing Woody and Frankie's personalities will be posted on our web site.) As if that wasn't enough, with the economy as it is, affecting both Red's and Gail's multi-year, fun, non-dog jobs, we do not yet see adding more dogs anytime soon. We remain committed to doing right by our canine family and will only take on as many dogs as we can properly care for, which they deserve for all the joy and love they bring to our lives.

• We know that time spent with our dogs is the best medicine for all souls and spirits, so we welcome you to meet our dogs and share the fun we have with them. We're happy to have you join us this holiday season. “Meet and Greets” for children, via our “Everything But the Ride” offering is a great way for your kids to be introduced to the wonderful world of sled dogs. Fun for adults, too!
• We frequently receive requests from repeat guests who enjoyed last year's visit, are returning to the Valley for skiing and want more time visiting the dogs. We enjoy renewing friendships we've made through the dogs.
• Advance reservations are required for our planning purposes. Email is usually the best way to reach us to start the reservation/ inquiry process. We're busy, but not too busy for you.
• If you phone us, please help us conserve costs by leaving us an email address or the best time to contact you by phone.
• If you're staying in the Valley, give us a land line number and the name of the lodging establishment, condominium name and unit number or local family name. (Your cell phone service might be spotty due to the mountains, so ask locals for the “sweet spots”.)
• We will get back to you—and as fast as possible with our many winter chores and busy schedules. (Dog chores for the outdoor kennel: fresh water, scooping poop, feeding dogs, massaging and playing with dogs, health checks, grooming needs (eyes, ears, nails, feet, teeth), shoveling snow, scooping poop, vacuuming dog fur in the
house, training dogs, shoveling kennel doors and dog yard, checking trail conditions, checking/ repairing dog yardfencing and doors, hauling and replacing water buckets again, chopping ice layers to get to water, dinner for dogs, washing dog bowls and buckets, scooping poop, shoveling snow, vacuuming dog fur in the house, checking and repairing all dog powered sports gear and equipment and.... Additionally, in between the “dog time” as well as late night or pre-dawn emailing, we take care of the communication for inquiries and reservations, hauling wood for heating the house, and the list goes on.... Life is full and never dull--which is how we like it. We hope to hear from you about scheduling a time for your fun with our dogs. It's fun for us, too!
Enjoy the season, the snow is great, the air is crisp and the clear nights are spectacular!
Gail and Red
Atii Sled Dogs
Mad River Valley (home of Sugarbush Resort & Mad River Glen for skiing--and much, much more!)
PO Box 550
Moretown, VT 05660
email: AtiiSledDogs@madriver.com
phone: 802-496-3795
(No calls after 9:0 0pm ET, please. Email only after 9pm. It might be an early night of needed sleep after being on the dog trails all day.)

December 21, 2008 Winter Update

Think snow for this winter! Lots of snow is on the ground here at the house and kennel! It's a true winter wonderland on this first day of winter. Happy Solstice!

We will definitely be offering skijoring lessons for the skilled x-c skiing guests who come with their own "pulling" dog. This is for folks who want to learn how to train their dog to do this sport.

We will also definitely continue to be offering our educational programs for schools, winter festivals, and other public groups.

We were hoping to again be offering dog sled rides for 2008-2009, but it is not possible at this time. We will continue to offer our "Everything But A Ride" but we have made some changes for this year. The information below for 2007-8 is not correct for this year. We have kept it here because it has some background information, but please see the "Everything But A Ride" page for this year's information. We'll add an update here if things change.

We are both working hard at our other jobs and training time has not been abundant. (It would be nice if sled dogs were more than fun and an occasional supplement to help pay for dog food, but it is not.) In addition, despite adding to our kennel, we still have a shortage of working dogs, and with the economy looking as bad as it does, we do not see adding more dogs anytime soon.

New Kennel Additions

We now have 10 dogs: 7 potential working dogs (Ilyaga, Frankie, Flip, Preston, Elias, Osceola and Touvik); 2 retired seniors (Weasel and Woody); and 1 very young puppy (Nahanni).

Despite the economy, but after much discussion, we have adopted two older, sledding-trained, experienced Siberian Husky sled dogs, Osceola and Touvik. These are gorgeous males from mushing friends in New Hampshire who have wonderful bloodlines that we like and admire. Osceola and Touvik are settling in well with the two-legged family as well as the "furry, four-legged family" at our home.

Future Sled Dog In Training

Gail’s October birthday present from Red was a 10-week old pup we've named Nahanni, which means "spirit" in the Far North language of the Tlinget. She does have great spirit, is very smart, sweet, cute, cuddly, and loves kids, adults and other dogs. (Our house cat is still training her, but it looks promising.) She's also very fast when running about! But that's no surprise as her bloodlines come from incredible dogs with great brains and bodies for running and working in harness as well as wonderful temperaments and dispositions. We're very excited and honored to have been selected to have this promising pup join our family!

You'll see Nahanni with us as she continues to be socialized, trained for obedience as well as sled dog commands, and is introduced to the big world and local trails. She won't become a member of the working team until she's almost a year old, but she'll be traveling with us to watch and learn, get comfortable with the equipment, visit any school groups we work with, etc.

Eat, puppy, eat and grow strong and fast!

Kennel Losses

It's been another tough time for us, to be expected as the dogs age, but it's never any easier--just more sadness and pain for us. The dogs are our family.

We lost our very sweet, gentle and patient senior male Dolby this June. We adopted him when he was 12 when mushing friends moved to the Yukon. He bred our girl Frankie and we kept 2 pups, Preston and Elias. (Elias looks just like Dolby!) Sadly, Dolby passed on at (almost) 16. Among many other wonderful traits, he will be remembered for his most unusual voice and tell-tale "ARK!"

For those who knew him, we very sadly share news of the recent passing of our beloved Dawson. He was the "poster dog" featured in all the Waitsfield Sled Dog Race collateral at the turn of this century. He truly loved all the school kids he met. He made it past his 14th birthday, lived a very active, full, happy, wonderful life making every day of our lives with him pure joy. He was an exceptional dog and companion, indoors as a house dog, loose in the car with his head on the driver's left shoulder, and outdoors having fun. Dawson will forever be in our hearts and minds as we now venture down the trails without him. We miss him more than words can say.

And so the circle of life continues here at Atii Sled Dogs.

The "Everything But A Ride" information below is different for the 2008-2009 season. Please see this page for current information.

However, please read the narrative below for the explanation and updates about our dogs. You'll learn more about why we cannot currently offer you a ride in the sled. We are committed to our dogs, and dog sledding is all about the dogs.


SKIJORING LESSONS and SLED DOG EDUCATION PROGRAMS for schools, youth groups, winter carnivals, special events and the general public WILL CONTINUE to be offered (as usual) for this winter.


Unfortunately, due to a variety of reasons (both unexpected as well as anticipated) and after lots of discussion and evaluation, at this time (Dec. 12, 2007) we are unable to offer dog sled rides (per se). Believe us, we are far more upset about this than you, but we simply do not have enough reliable working dogs in our kennel this winter.

However, what we can do, in addition to the skijoring lessons and education programs listed above, is meet you for a hands-on visit, what we call a “meet and greet” sled dog education visit (which is everything we usually do except for the ride). It’s still a fun and unique outdoor adventure to do as an adult or with your kids. You can bring your x-c skis or snowshoes and try to follow us along the trail for a better view of the dogs in action. You can see us leaving, on the trail or on the return loop back to the dog truck where we began with you.
This means you would:

  • Meet the dogs at the trails we use (with all the pets and dog kisses you can handle);
  • See all the gear, sleds and equipment we use;
  • Sit in the sled and stand on the runners to try the sled (without the dogs attached);
  • Help harness and hook up the dogs;
  • See a demonstration training run if conditions permit (sled, skijor or wheels) so you can see what mushing is all about, but unfortunately you won’t get a chance to be in the sled to go for a ride with the dogs.
  • As usual, we’ll continue to offer Vermont’s hot cider or cocoa at the end of your visit.

We can offer this at a very reduced rate from the cost of a dog sled ride:

Meet The Sled Dogs - Everything But A Ride Rates
1 or 2 people (kids 4-7 must be with an adult) $75
Family Groups (10 people max):  
  First Person $50
  Each additional adult
(13 & over) add
$25 per person
  Children (4-12) add $20 per child

Contact us about group sizes and rates for schools and youth groups which is a different situation.

Not An Easy Decision

We’ve been struggling with this decision of whether or not we could offer dog sled rides this winter, hoping against hope that we could. We really enjoy sharing our love and passion for our dogs, this sport and lifestyle, with all the nice folks we meet as we take guests out for rides on the trails with us. However, it’s become increasingly clear that it’s just not going our way this year. We hope we can offer rides next winter. (We also hope a miracle happens and we can again this winter.)

There are pros and cons to having a small kennel of dogs. We are now experiencing the downside. Plus, after Mother Nature’s lack of cooperation for dog teams for two winters in a row, we have become another sign of harsh economic times. As we write, there is great early snow, but not enough dogs in our kennel to offer rides for this winter. We currently only have 4 highly reliable working dogs. This is enough for skijoring and education programs as well as our personal recreational sledding, but not enough to pull a sled with a passenger (or passengers). Unfortunately we are not now in a financial position to purchase more high quality Siberian huskies that are at least a year old, harness trained, in good physical conditioning and socially ready, who could quickly fit in to run with our dogs. It takes time to build and train a team or teams of sled dogs who can be relied upon, especially when taking guests out for rides. Safety comes first—for you as well as the dogs.

A Difficult Time

This past spring and summer was very difficult. We went from 11 dogs to 9 dogs after two unexpected deaths. We lost 9-year-old Laska (a stellar skijoring and wheel dog) in March 2007 due to an unknown and undetectable heart defect. He never showed signs of any illness and lived a full and happy life—right to the swift end. (We should all be that lucky.) That heartbreaking loss was followed by another in June when we had to do the humane and right thing for the very young 5-year-old Murron (a sweetheart of a dog and one of our great leaders). After three surgeries (beginning in February) and a trip to canine oncologists in New Hampshire, we learned that her cancer was advanced and there was nothing further that we could do to help her. Our hearts still ache for these two great dogs.

Ageing Catches Up With The Dogs

But even as we dropped from 11 to 9 dogs, we went to far fewer reliable working dogs. Dawson’s 13 years caught up to him and he is no longer able to run in harness, but he continues to enjoy his life and status with us as a beloved “house dog.”

Weasel turns 14 this December 28th. So far she’s still eager to run and pull and she still loves school visits and other public appearances, but at 14 we don’t want to work her too hard as she doesn’t pull as hard as she used to nor does she run as fast. (You only go as fast or as well as your slowest dog.)

Woody is now 12 years old and he hasn’t entirely decided whether or not he wants to run any longer in either the dog sled team or skijoring—some days he does, some days he doesn’t. We leave the choice entirely to him, but that means he’s no longer a dependable member of a team.

15-year-old Dolby is doing fine, but he was retired long before we adopted him and he became a stud dog. (He’s dad to our 3-year-olds, the brothers Preston and Elias. Frankie’s the mom.)

That leaves us with our three female leaders: Frankie, Flip, and Ilyaga plus our only remaining reliable male, Preston, who can run team or in wheel. Ilyaga can run in any position and for a little dog is an impressive wheel dog. Those are our four most reliable, fully trained working dogs. Elias, Preston’s brother, is a late bloomer—a slower learner who is still training to be a sled dog and doesn’t like things directly behind him—so he’s not a wheel dog but runs in team position (when he can figure out which way we’re going).
So, with all that as an explanation, in all good conscience, at this point in time we can’t offer and schedule the traditional dog sled rides. We don’t want to disappoint anyone, but we certainly don’t want to schedule you for a ride and then have to cancel due to being short of dog team members.

However, we can schedule you for the next best thing.

Please come join us for a “meet and greet” as described above—when you get a learning and hands-on experience, just without the ride—but you can see the dogs in action as they go out for a training run with one of us.
Our kennel is just fine for giving our skijoring lessons and for continuing to visit schools and give other public programs and demos at winter carnivals and other public events.

So, long story short, in order to again offer dog sled rides we need to grow our kennel (“rebuild”) and add some young Siberians through good breeding or adoption. But there’s also the issue of economics. We will only have as many dogs as we can afford to properly care for—meaning high quality food as well as paying all the other veterinary, kennel, dog truck, trail expenses and other small business costs. Breeding and raising a litter of pups is another economic and logistical factor to be considered. We certainly hope that we can offer rides again next winter—and we thank you for your interest in wanting to take a ride with our beloved, trusty dogs.

We hope you’ll join us for our “meet and greet” the dogs experience this winter!

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Atii Sled Dogs
Mad River Valley · PO Box 550 · Moretown, VT 05660
Phone: 802-496-3795 · Fax: 802-496-3765

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This page last updated Feb. 21, 2011.