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In Wasatch Mountains, man makes dog sledding a way of life

By Jodi Saeland | Posted - Jan 27th, 2013 @ 10:26pm

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PARK CITY — When you think of dog sledding, you most likely think of Alaska and Canada, and not necessarily Utah.

But in the Wasatch Mountains, Pawsatch Snow Dogs has dog teams and drivers who will take you for a ride.

Neil Bowlen, owner of Pawsatch Snow Dogs, has been running private tours for years with two different breeds the Alaskan Malamute and Alaskan Husky — a crossbreed of many dogs bred to go fast.

"(The Malamute is) a little bit bigger dog, broader, slower but designed to freight and they can carry all kinds of weight for long distances but at a slower speed," Bowlen said.

There are three positions on a dog sled team: The lead dogs are the steering wheels and do the turning, team dogs in the middle keep the cadence going and the wheel dogs in the back are the strongest and keep a steady momentum.

"If you want to turn right we say ‘gee', if we want to turn left we say ‘ha', if we want to go we say ‘hike'," Bowlen said.

Bowlen is passionate about his dogs, but he warns that puppies are a lot of work.

"The northern breeds, the Malamute, the Husky, they're one of the most popular breeds in animal shelters today," he said. "And it's because people just don't understand their genetic requirement to exert energy."

But with the proper training, leaders emerge.

"To be a leader you have to be forward-orientated, meaning you never look back," Bowlen said of the dogs. "If you see a dog that keeps looking back it means they're unsure and they don't really want to be up front. They'd rather be behind the dogs."

Neil says sledding with his dogs is the lifestyle he loves.

"You get up here at 10,000 feet and you see the beauty and the nature that were able to enjoy and it's worth it."


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