Cocker Spaniel Sled Dogs?

After our first experience dog sledding, the kids were determined to become dog mushers. When we didn’t give in to their plea for real sled dogs, they asked if our cocker spaniels could be sled dogs. With a hesitant “maybe” from us, their sights were set. They found an old wooden sled at a garage sale and spent all of their money on two small harnesses and leather booties.  Throughout the summer, we laughed as the dogs were coaxed into pulling the sled around the yard. The only thing the dogs seemed to be successful at was gaining weight from the endless “training rewards.” And yet, the kids remained lovingly unyielding.

When winter came and snow accumulated, we rented a cabin for the weekend on the magnificent Gunflint Trail in Northern Minnesota. We booked another dogsledding trip with renowned musher, Erik Simula, and we were all equally excited.

The kids asked to bring the cocker spaniels with us for the weekend to train them at the cabin. We agreed – knowing that the dogs probably wouldn’t want to place their paws onto a frozen lake, let alone pull a sled! We figured that all hopes of our dogs becoming Ididerod champions would draw to a conclusion that weekend. However… the will of a child can be an all powerful thing.

Upon returning to the cabin from yet another amazing mushing adventure with Erik, the kids were more resolved than ever. The next morning, my husband and I awoke to applause outside. We stepped out onto the deck and observed a training trail in the snow, lined with our firewood. Around the bend came the cockers, harnessed up – pulling a sled of logs. The kids announced that the dogs were ready!

We all bundled up and headed out onto the frozen lake, not expecting much but excited nonetheless. After a few minor adjustments, treats and encouragements, the dogs were off! With snow flying and kids cheering, the cockers actually pulled the sled all over the lake!

It was a moment that my husband and I will never forget.

And so the question has been answered. With the persistence of a child and the unbridged love of a dog – yes, absolutely…a cocker spaniel can be a sled dog. Even for just for one afternoon.

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Stay tuned for more about our evolving sled dog obsession!

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