Everybody loves snow — so do our dogs! Next time you go cross-country skiing take your pooch with you: husky, Lab, Dachshund, any dog breed can participate, no snow-related DNA or experience needed. What is necessary, though, is a little preparation so you and your furry friend can fully enjoy your adventure on the white fluffy stuff. What you should know before you go:
• When skiing at cross-country venues like Ski Callaghan (over 35 km of dedicated trails for snowshoeing, walking, or skiing with dogs), make sure your dog has a valid ski pass. Make yourself familiar with the venue’s dog regulations and respect dog-free areas to avoid conflicts with lessons, events and training sessions. Leash your dog in parking lots and while preparing your skis.
• Keep your dog under control at all times. Make sure Rover heels and stops when he’s supposed to and doesn’t chase other dogs, skiers or wild animals. Especially when approaching others, keep your dog close so it does not intimidate other trail users. Do some off-leash training before you hit the trails so you can safely let your pooch romp freely beside you with that priceless smile on his face. When skiing in the dark, use lights or reflectors on your dog’s collar for extra safety.
• Know your dog’s fitness level and ability and remember that walking/running on snow is physically demanding. Start with short, easy trips to see how your dog responds and gradually increase duration and intensity with each visit.
• Keep in mind that cold weather may affect some dogs more than others. Watch out for shivering, lethargy, slow breathing, loss of coordination or dilated pupils, which are signs of frostbite or hypothermia. Consider a light dog coat if your puppy tends to get cold quickly.
• While out on the trails, check paws regularly for snow and ice that can get stuck and build up, which causes chafing, freezing or loss of traction. It is helpful to keep nails cut short and to slightly trim the fur between the toes. Also, dog booties can help protect the paws or you can apply a special “musher wax” before you head out in the snow. Back home, dog paw salve helps to heal cracks and dryness.
• Pick up after your dog — this should go without saying. No one wants that special “wax” all over their skis, snowshoes or boots.
• Pack supplies: Consider bringing water, treats or kibble, doggie bags, and on longer trips, a first aid kit and a mat for your dog to sit on when you both take a break.
Nordic Stocking Stuffers — Looking for the perfect Christmas present for a Nordic ski enthusiast? Check out one of the local stores for a wide selection of cross-country gear: Source for Sports (in Squamish and Whistler), The Nordic Shop, Valhalla Pure, Outwest Sports (all Squamish), Sigge’s Sport Villa (Vancouver), Deep Cove Outdoors (North Vancouver) and Mountain Equipment Co-op (Vancouver and North Vancouver).
Also, Whistler Olympic Park has opened a new retail shop for Nordic gear: The Totem Trading Post in the Day Lodge offers skis, boots, bindings, poles, ski apparel, accessories, waxing supplies and much more. As well, Access Callaghan, run by Callaghan Country Wilderness Adventures at the Callaghan base area, has a great selection of Nordic gear and accessories.
Lessons and ski passes are great stocking stuffers, and just in time for holiday season Whistler Olympic Park is offering a new convenient online booking tool under www.whistlerolympicpark.com.
Silke Jeltsch is an administrator at Whistler Olympic Park. She can be reached at email@example.com