Sled dogs on the run for 25th anniversary

    Southland Sled Dog Association president Haakon Berg runs a rig race in a 2018 competition with Siberian huskies (from left) Bear, Faelan, Wolf and Troika. Photo: Karen Owen

    QUEEN’S Birthday Weekend marks the 25th anniversary of the Southland Sled Dog Association big sled dog competition at Fosbender Park, Otatara.

    This year’s rig event will also be the National Championship, which will feature several North Island sledders.

    Southland Sled Dog Association publicity officer Karen Owen said despite it being the 25th anniversary of the club, sled dogging had been in Southland for longer than that and there were a lot of husky owners in the region.

    “You wouldn’t believe how many husky owners there are of them do sled dog racing.

    “Huskies are the most rehomed dogs, they’re not particularly good on their own and they need to have another dog, but it doesn’t have to be a husky. You can’t really let them off because they will run and chase little critters and they don’t often come back, they can quite often be destructive if they don’t get enough exercise, which is where the running is really great for them.”

    She said many club members also owned non-Arctic dogs like Labradors and Vizslas, as any dog that loved to run could compete.

    “The huskies can only run up to about 14 degrees before it gets too hot for them.”

    Club meets run most Sundays from 8.30am-11.30am, and new members are actively encouraged to come out with their dogs as the club has a store of gear available to be loaned.

    “It is a really good family activity.

    “You don’t actually have to have a lot of equipment. If you’ve got a bike and a dog that loves to run, that’s about all you need to get started.”

    The big sled dog competition starts on Saturday, June 4, with the first race at 4.30pm and the competition ending on Sunday.