I have always wanted to go dog sledding; it’s been on my bucket list for a very long time! The only chance I’ve had to go so far was in Banff, Alberta but it was very expensive and very touristy. I really didn’t want that as my first-time experience when I looked into it. When I signed my contract to come to Fort Nelson, British Columbia I started researching winter-time attractions and things to do in the area. Funny enough, dog sledding didn’t come up so I kind of forgot about it in the meantime. One day I was online and came across a Facebook page for Streeper Kennels. I could see that they raced sled dogs but did not see anything advertised to actually go dog sledding. While at work one day in Fort Nelson, I mentioned to someone that I would love to go dog sledding and they told me that the Streepers were just starting to take people out on rides! I called them up and sure enough I set it up to go for a ride with the dogs and for a tour of the kennels!! I also found a friend to join me (Moira)! It was the most BEAUTIFUL weather for it too. It’s finally happening!!
Streeper Kennels was an amazing choice. I can’t say enough good things about them and the dogs. They are WORLD CHAMPION racers. You know the Triple Crown in horse racing? Well the Streepers have won the Triple Crown in dog sledding AND what they call The Big Five. This is literally the best of the best when it comes to racing. Here is a huge list of their awards (taken from their Facebook bio, so it might even be a bit outdated)…
Combined 17 x World Champion Sled Dog Team.
9 x IPSSSDR Wyoming Champions
9 x Canadian Dog Derby Champions
6 x Anchorage Fur Rondy Champions
5 x The Pas Manitoba Trappers Festival Champions
12 x Canadian Open Champions.
5 x Open North American Champions
2 x Atta Boy 300 Champions
4 x Cross Lake Manitoba Champions
3 x Prince Albert Saskatchewan Champions
2003 Laconia New Hampshire Champions
3 x ISDRA Unlimited Class Gold Medal Champion
2018 – TRIPLE CROWN WINNER ALASKA
Voted MUSHER OF THE YEAR by Sled Dog Magazine
Only Musher in history to have won the BIG 5 and the World Triple Crown.
WOW!!! I can’t believe they are right in Fort Nelson! We got to the kennels around 11:00 AM on Friday morning and were pleasantly surprised with how spacious and huge the area was. My first thoughts were that I was overwhelmed with all of the barking. It was SO loud. It’s like the dogs could sense that we were there for a ride and they all wanted to be chosen. They also all wanted our love and attention which we were very happy to oblige with. 🙂 I was also surprised at the types of dogs…I was expecting huskies! These dogs are a mix of husky and pointer. They are lean, muscular and born to run. They also do not have big fluffy fur which is a good thing because they don’t get too hot when running long distances!
I know a lot of people have some hesitancy with dog racing, that it’s cruel and that the dogs are mistreated and worked too hard. I’m here to say that this is not the case with Streeper Kennels. We asked a ton of questions about how the dogs are treated and saw it with our own eyes. These dogs are treated so well and they LOVE to race. They are bred to do this and it’s in their blood. The male dogs were in one area and the females were in a separate area. Usually the puppies have their own area but they had just recently mixed the young dogs (6-7 months old) in with the others. The ground was very clean around each dog house, minus urine visible but it’s winter and there’s snow/ice on the ground. Each dog was chained to their house with their name above it. I think that was the only thing that I had a hard time with…the fact that they were all tied up. But they had a ton of room to run around. They let them run loose after they run. Each dog gets trained/exercised every other day with a rest day in between. You could tell how much the dogs loved to run because they were all jumping up and down and barking when the staff started picking dogs for the two sled teams. It definitely added to the excitement!
Speaking of the staff, I could go on and on about how wonderful they are. Terry Streeper greeted us and was so proud and happy to tell us everything about racing, the dogs, and their championships. He has raced all over the place, including Europe! His son Buddy and his wife Lina are currently up in Fairbanks, Alaska with about 40 dogs for one of the biggest races of the year (which they’ve already won 7 times I believe). There were also three staff there from Europe (Denmark, Germany and France) on work Visas who were so friendly. I really enjoyed hanging out with them and learning more about them and the dogs.
Once we were done with our tour and visit with the dogs, it was time for our ride!! Once the dogs were harnessed and attached to the sleds, we hopped on. We were told to (1) keep our feet inside the sled at all times, (2) hold on with both hands when the dogs first start running, and (3) lean when we go around a corner. They took off so fast like it was nothing to pull three of us on the sled. The first thing I noticed was how quiet and peaceful it was as soon as we left the yard full of jealous barking dogs! It was the coolest feeling, just listening to our driver explain about the dogs while we could hear the wind and the sound of the dogs running in the snow.
The team that took us was a team of younger dogs that they are currently training. Some of them are still learning the ropes and get a bit mixed up in order during the ride. One of them had his foot tangled and was having a hard time keeping up with the rhythm but quickly figured it out and went right back to the pace. They don’t stop for this so that the dogs learn how to figure it out themselves. (If they’re racing an 80 km race, say, they can’t stop for every little scramble. Stopping usually leads to them getting even more tangled). The two leading pups were Wilma and Flash. Wilma is an older dog who is training Flash to become a star! They must see leader potential in him. There is a beautifully groomed trail right behind their yard and we followed a snow machine which set the pace for us. The ride was about 6 km and we took a quick break in between.
It was SO much fun! The dogs were so happy after and ran around saying hi to the other dogs. One thing that we could not believe was how well the dogs get along with each other. There’s no fighting or hurting one another, they’re all so friendly and nice! None of them bite or snarl at you; they’re very friendly. We walked around the female fenced in area and spent time with the ladies. I found my favourite little pupper named Pearl! She was just a little thing and she kept trying to pull my mittens out of my pocket. It was so cute. I think it’s so cool how you can just meet a dog and feel their personality through their behaviour. This one’s sweet and timid…this one is wild and excited…this one is barking for attention…this one is playing hard to get. I loved it. One of the males was jumping so high in the air, it was like he had suspensions in his legs!!
It was so hard to leave the yard! I could have stayed all day. We were there for about 1.5 to 2 hours all together and the price was so cheap in my opinion. Well worth the visit. We are going to come back in May and hopefully volunteer with some of the puppies!! I can’t wait!
Thanks for reading!