Tom Roper participates in a skijoring race in Telkwa. (Submitted photo)

Tom Roper participates in a skijoring race in Telkwa. (Submitted photo)

Why not give skijoring a try?

Tom reminisces about the time dog sled and skijoring races came to Telkwa

A few years back the District of Houston agreed to finance an international dog sled race in their community. Volunteers were gathered and the track was set up at Dungate Meadows off the Equity Mine road.

My wife and my friend Eric decided we would go out and see what was happening. When we arrived, the area was bustling with people, dogs of all sizes and related activities. It was quite exciting and just being there put you in the event.

I jumped in to help as the sleds were lining up for their start position. The dogs were barking and jumping and wanting to go. I was holding the sled back and waiting for the driver to get on board and go. Wow, they really go and we proceeded to have a great day watching and taking pics.

I was hooked.

We just happened to have four dogs on the farm in Telkwa. I have always believed that animals need to earn their keep, so why not racing.

Next item would be a sled and I have discovered that whatever I want to buy will be found in Telkwa. Turns out Doug Boersema at the end of Tyee Lake had a beautiful wooden sled up for sale.

Kind of like fate, right?

Now, how to get these dogs to pull. We needed help and my old friend Al Burrows became our mentor. Al had run dogs up in the Cassiar country back in the day. Seems once you get everybody hooked up, get the driver on the runners and then yell out ‘hike,’ off you go.

Al had to run with a tow rope, teach the dogs and after a while they would catch on. All except Dena, she would just collapse and refused to get involved.

Dawson City Yukon, our big Husky, was committed but had issues staying in the track. If there was any need for a diversion like a grouse or a mouse, he was gone. Blue, our Heinz 57, turned out to be our most consistent puller and Maggie, the little dog from Telkwa who was related to all the other little dogs from Telkwa, just loved to run.

We had set up a track around the lower hay field by the river and spent many hours practicing but could not seem to get a winning commitment.

Why not try skijoring?

This is another type of racing where you harness two dogs and get them to pull you on your cross country skis. Ah, now we have something here and after many more hours of practice I am ready to race.

Unfortunately, though, Houston had to back out the next year. The $25,000 purse was a bit too much commitment. But fortunately, Telkwa wanted to give it a go and the next year was set at Bruce Kerr’s farm up the Coalmine Road. Right in my backyard and I even had a small cheering section.

Finally race day arrived and I was pumped. I had lucky bib number 28. Blue and Maggie were ready.

Each team goes out in one-minute intervals and the timer had me positioned. Ready, Set, Go and we were off straight to my wife who was cheering in the crowd. Hey you guys, you are race dogs not pets.

Oh well, we lost some time but got back on track. All was well for the first kilometre and then the Canadian champion passed us like we were standing still and I guess we were because he passed us a second time before the race had ended.

A good time was had by all and another special day in the Bulkley Valley was recorded.

Drop me an email if you have any fun events to promote at tr.ranch@hotmail.com or give me a call at 250-877-1806

Thanks, Tom.