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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Dogsledding in Wisconsin

Siberian Husky

We went to the dogs today.

We didn’t quite know what to expect when we visited The Siberian Outpost in Malone (near Fond du Lac). Located out in the lush Wisconsin countryside, this 35-acre complex is home to Jim and Judy Feyen and their nineteen Siberian Huskies.

When we turned in the drive, the grounds and cleanliness drew our attention. Jim and Judy’s care showed in every aspect of their operation.

Then we saw the dogs. Standing almost in a row along the fence, more than a dozen beautiful faces watched us as we got out of our car.

Jim greeted us and took us in his showroom. It’s all about the dogs. Hundreds of photos decorate the walls and hang from the ceiling. An antique sled sets along one wall. On the opposite wall, the halters of dogs who have crossed over the rainbow bridge hang in their memory.
Getting ready

“The dogs are haltered and anxious to go,” Jim said. “Let’s give them some exercise.”

We followed him out into the fenced area, met Judy and were greeted by some great-looking dogs. With intelligence shining in their eyes, they eagerly awaited their instructions.

“They weigh anywhere from 35 to 110 pounds,” Jim told us. “We put the lighter dogs in the lead and keep the heavy weights for the back.”

“How many dogs do you run at a time?” I asked.

“We can run up to eighteen. That’s what I intended to do today until our volunteer, Tammy, showed up. She’ll run six and I’ll run twelve.”
Working team

Judy, Tammy and Jim began harnessing the dogs. “Butt in first” became the mantra as the dogs nudged their way into line. Secured by leads on the back and front of the harnesses, the dogs barked their excitement.

“They’re ready to run,” Judy said. “Better get them going before it gets any hotter.” Jim later told us that they don’t like to run the dogs when the temperature gets above 50.

“The colder, the better for them,” he said.

His pre-snow “sled” looked like a go-cart without the engine. We took the two seats that put us at eye level with the dogs.

The dogs followed Jim’s commands, displaying teamwork and an awareness of each other. One dog stumbled and the others slowed for him to regain his position. We watched the leads tighten when they worked in harmony.

The cooler fall weather allows the dogs to begin training for their winter runs.

Well-deserved rest
Jim and Judy offer demonstrations and rides throughout the fall and winter season. They love sharing the dogsledding experience with groups and individuals.

Jim makes presentations at schools and nature centers. If you visit the area, put The Siberian Outpost on your schedule. The ride, the dogs and the education make this a memorable experience.

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