Learn all about this amazing sport that came to Chile to stay

In the south of Chile, from Temuco towards the mountains, live 25 wild dogs that adore being in the fresh air and running in the snow. Day to day these 17 Siberian Huskies and 8 Eurohounds wake up Luis Lobos so that he will give them their food, the man who raised and trained them in their daily routine: pulling sleds. 

Luis organizes trips on the sleds through the snowy mountains, frozen lakes and age-old araucarias. He picks up the passengers in Curacautín to bring them to the Husky Farm where they get to meet the dogs, prepare the equipment and receive an introduction before beginning the adventure: “I show them how dog sledding works, how to steer, and what sounds direct the dogs”, Luis tells us from his house in the south: “The dogs are not like horses. They are not directed by reins, they are directed by sounds. G is right, Ja is left, Go is run, and Ohh is stop,” he explains. 

The full-day expedition lasts 10 hours. 10 hours of detachment from cell phones and of connection with nature. Around midday we make a stop to have a box lunch, rest and enjoy the sublime views that abound the mountain range of the Araucanía: “this activity is for people that enjoy being in nature, snow sports and the company of dogs,” says Luis. 

For the boldest people, the commercial engineer created an expedition through the Andes Mountain Range: “this activity is for people who have experience in snow sports and are in good physical condition,” he explains. It is seven days of travel in the snow, two nights in a cabin, one night in a dome, and three nights in a tent. 

In both cases each traveler drives their own dog sled and there are two guides per person. Luis explains to us that the activity is not dangerous because the dog sleds do not exceed more than 20 km per hour and snowfalls are not very heavy. If for some reason the dogs don’t halt, the person steering them can stop: “The sled has an iron mechanism that you step on and has a few spikes in the snow. With this you stop,” he explains. 

Luis, raised in Santiago, is a commercial engineer with a love for trekking, the mountains and animals, who escaped to the southern Andes to fulfill his dream and be in contact with nature with his 25 canines: “I’ve always liked dogs, my dogs are like my children. I lived with them in Santiago but because of limited space, quality of life and to be able to begin this project, we came to the south”.   

But Luis hasn’t always been so well accompanied. When he was still living in the city, he didn’t have anyone to go hiking with, so he decided to look for a dog, and began to investigate about Siberians: “The dog had so much energy, all the time he wanted to run. I began to investigate about sled dogs and found that someone in Chile made harnesses, who led me to a friend who practiced mushing for more than 20 years.”  

Mushing is what the act of driving sleds pulled by dogs is called, although in other parts of the year you can practice with tricycles or carts as well. 

Just as well in snow, on the ground or cement, the dog and guide work as a team: “the dog never does anything they don’t want to do, if he doesn’t want to run, he is likely to throw himself on the ground and be dragged by the others so the sled cannot move”, comments Luis. 

Not all dogs are able to participate in this discipline, they should be dogs with strength, agility, capacity to adapt to the cold climate, tame and friendly. The Siberian Husky, the Samoyedo, the Alaskan Malamute and the Eurohound are all breeds that are used in this activity because they enjoy playing, running and training. These dogs are of Nordic origin and where trained thousands of years ago to transport people and goods. Without them, the isolated mountain towns would not have been able to connect with bigger settlements. They have strength and energy in their blood: “they are true athletes and they are taken care of like athletes,” says Luis, “they are given the best food and the best care. It is important that they are in good condition, and to not expose them to things that could harm them.” 

Luis takes care of his dogs like all dog lovers. Sometimes they sleep in his bed and if they are not in the condition to run, he does not obligate them. Their care is the priority and because of that, so far there have been no problems with his innovative business: “this isn’t to make money, no one comes to the mountains to live with 25 dogs for money, because when money is what motivates you, that is when abuse and mistreatment begins. I do this because I love the dogs and nature and because I want to share this experience with others”.
 

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