Like many things we wish to achieve in life, the road to dog sledding was long, windy and often bumpy. However, far from being a metaphor, the twisty gravel road we took through the interior of Iceland in our tiny rental car was very very real.
We had been driving for about 20 minutes, hoping that Adele’s motivational lyrics would propel our car to new feats of Suzuki strength. I was beginning to worry we had gotten horribly off track when we were alerted to the dog camp by the sound of 50 barking dogs.
Dog camp of Dog Sledding Iceland was everything I thought it would be and more. 50 giant, furry excited dogs dotted the snow beside and Icelandic Glacier. As we pulled on our snow pants and boots, our guide harnessed up the dogs and prepared the sled.
And the dogs certainly seemed to be pleading for their chance on the sled. As we waited, we visited each dog who greeted us with barks or an eagerly exposed belly. By the time the sled was ready, Holly and I had petted, scratched and played with almost every dog in the place.
Our team consisted of a team of five dogs. Igor and Iceman, two large and furry white dogs, stood closest to the sled. Our guide told us they were brothers. Apparently, dogs from the same family run better together. The next two were a ten year old man and young female, both of whom never seemed to pull their weigh, leaving the heavy pulling to the two brothers. Jupiter led the pack, happily wagging his tail as we started off across the snow.
Most of the dogs were Greenland Hounds, but we found out there were also a few Alaskan Mamouks and one Siberian Husky. Apparently the Siberian Husky was just there on a summer job of sorts, her owners were worried about her killing the new lambs back on the farm so she had been sent away to work for a few months.
These dogs are not house dogs. They are huge and furry and they love the snow. They are closer to wolves than any dog I know. Our guide told us they get hot and unhappy in the house. They love to work and they love the snow.
Jupiter knew the drill so well he could follow the trail of the dogs before him. Staying on the track either through site or smell. If he reached a junction and seemed confused, the guide yelled left or right and he knew which way to go. Jupiter was a smart dog, maybe a little two smart.
Unbidden, he ended our trip and turned around to head back to camp.
“It’s dinner time,” our guide explained as Jupiter rallied his team and headed home.
During a short break, the dogs lay down to rest while we walked around. It must be common for tourists to hand out belly rubs during these breaks, because the dogs eagerly fell at our feet, rolling on their backs and pushing on our legs until we relented.
Not that it was easy to resists – these dogs were adorable.
The ride itself was fun – an exhilarating ride near the glaciers perennial snow field. But, the real joy was watching these dogs and their natural state. Running across the snow, working together as a team.