The thrill of quietly gliding over the snow under a full moon, with only the hiss of sled runners and the breathing of dogs for company, is incomparable. The cold air tingles on your face, and as the light fades and the moon rises, the snow sparkles and trees loom dark in the distance. This is the magic of dogsledding, and you can do it just 45 minutes from Ottawa at Ferme L’aventure.
Caroline Héroux, her partner Steve Fleury, and their three children aged 15, 13, and 11, keep 28 dogs on their 225-acre farm in Low, Quebec, just north of Wakefield. The dogs are a mix of Eurohounds and Alaskan sled dogs, bred for speed and the relative warmth of our winters. A purebred husky, Héroux explains, would find our winters too warm.
“But the Eurohounds listen well, they tolerate the heat, they run fast, and they have an easygoing temperament,” she says. They are true athletes ready to exert themselves; show them a harness and they start to sing. It’s a crescendo of noise until they are off, when they settle into stride and contented silence, saving their breath for the job at hand.
Currently Héroux and Fleury offer two outings daily throughout the winter. About to embark on their eighth season, the couple has seen interest in the sport grow. “We would need 100 dogs to answer the demand,” says Héroux. In the past few years, the family has welcomed lots of rescue dogs to their team, but now they are starting to breed their own.
Each dog gets fed twice daily; in the morning with a soup and in the evening, after work, with fibre nuggets that come from New Brunswick and protein that includes meat, eggs and fish.
Ferme L’Aventure 6, ch. McCrank, Low, Quebec