Arctic Dogging

Our final day today before returning home today and so we finished with huskies and dog sleds.

Overnight the weather had turned and about 5 centimetres of snow had redecorated the area. In the UK the entire nation would have ground to a halt in hysterics; here nobody blinks. It was quite warm because of the falling snow, at about -5 degrees but even so we were provided with protective clothing which made everybody look like the Michelin Man.

Our sleds and dog teams were prepped for departure. The dogs are mad keen to get under way and so it’s quite a noisy business (sound UP for the video below).

We were saddled up in groups of four per sled. Half the group waited their turn in a warm hut enjoying ‘Fika’ – a nice Swedish phrase meaning coffee and cake and chat.

The first group returned after about 45 minutes and then it was our turn…

I learned a lot about dog teams from our hosts and drivers, Mikeal & Hannah. Each team has a Lead dog front left and they understand instructions for Left & Right (in Swedish of course). For general travel, the strongest dogs are at the back and the most nimble at the front. Sometimes, just like people, dogs wake up in a bad mood and squabble with their partner on the other side and have to be moved in the team. Neutering animals is extremely expensive in Sweden so most of the dogs are intact and at any given time 5% of the bitches are in season so doggie life can become a bit complicated and/or exciting. If you want to set up a team for a fast ride you put the bitches in season as the front pair and put male dogs behind! Thanks to our hosts for a great day and what a wonderful life they have.

On our way back to the bus we passed a horse rider – up here they tend to use the Icelandic ponies who are perfectly at home and happy in such a hostile environment. The rider, on the other hand, was playing Mrs Grumpy today. Whatever…

That’s pretty much it. I’ll finish by thanking my clients. We’ve had a few adventures this time but the Tour has been huge fun and I think they’ve had a really good time – and, of course, even if only for one night, we saw the Northern Lights. Throughout there has been a sense of fun and humour that has made me smile, right up to last day silliness.

Flying home tomorrow. It rarely happens like this but I’ve only got 48 hours in the UK before the next Tour, this time to Monteriggioni in Italy, of which more later. I’ll be posting again in 3 or 4 days. Until then, thanks for following us around the Arctic Circle….

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