A few months ago, I wrote a piece about Dog Scootering. As a result of this, one reader, Jan, got in touch to tell us about her experiences scootering with her dogs locally in Berkshire. Jan and I have exchanged a number of emails since and, as a result, she has called my bluff and I have finally got around to ordering a scooter and harness for Kodi and me to try. We’ve been out several times now and are definitely starting to get the hang of it! However, in case you’d like to know more about this fun sport from someone who actually knows what they are doing, Jan has kindly written a bit about her experiences:
Dog scootering with Jan Morries
Dog scootering is an activity similar to dog sledding in that the same type of harness and gangline are used for both, but instead of pulling you on a sled the dogs are hooked up to a scooter. Unlike a dogsled, a scooter is normally run with only one or two dogs and is not dependant on snow. Northern breeds, eg. Siberian & Alaskan Huskies & Malamutes are primarily used in sledding (although a team including Poodles has completed the Iditarod race), whereas most breeds, including the Northerns, can be run with a scooter. Of course, the smaller the dog, the more help it will require over certain terrain.
Returning home from a wonderful 4 day dog sledding trek in Northern Finland, where we each drove our own team of 6 Siberian Huskies, I started looking for something that would give me a similar buzz and, having heard in the past of Dryland Mushing, which includes scootering, I immediately started researching it. On accepting that I don’t live in a snowy region of the UK and that I don’t own a Northern breed either, I realised that I had to work with what I had: a willing 14 month old Border Collie called Roo. As she was a suitable age to start pulling, I didn’t delay in ordering a book on scootering, plus an X back harness, and our ground training started.
Roo, I feel, was partially responsible for getting me hooked on this sport due to her ability to enjoy and master most things I ask of her and she took to scootering so readily my interest was well and truly fuelled.
She caught onto the commands quite quickly, so then came the slightly more expensive bit of the equipment; the scooter. Once this had been delivered and assembled the real fun began, starting with short runs to the park, where a reward ball game took place. It then progressed onto forest tracks with longer distances being covered. Having read more than once how addictive this sport can be, it didn’t come as a great surprise that once I was a bit more experienced and felt more in control I wanted more strength and speed, so dog number two arrived, a lovely German Shorthaired Pointer/Lab cross, and Roo helped train her beautifully. Yes, running them together is faster, although it can also be a bit scary at times, but it’s well worth it!
So if anyone out there has a dog that just wants to run or a dog that needs to get rid of excess energy but cannot safely be exercised off lead, and if you enjoy a bit of a workout – take a look into this pastime. All you need is a dog that loves to run, a scooter, harness, gangline, and optional helmet, gloves, plus knee and elbow pads (it can hurt a bit if you fall). You also need reasonable balance and some basic training, and you’re away.
If you’re out and about in Berkshire and pass a middle aged woman, probably mud splattered, being pulled about the forest tracks by two or maybe even three dogs (yes, I have another new puppy in training now too!) please feel free to stop me and have a chat.