On the run with the sled dogs of the Ferme L’aventure
The thrill of gliding quietly across the snow on a full moon, with only the whistling of sleds and the breathing of dogs for company, is incomparable. Cold air brushes your face, and as the light fades and the moon rises, the snow glistens and the trees darken in the distance. That’s the magic of dog sledding, and you can do it just 45 minutes from Ottawa at Ferme L’aventure.
Caroline Héroux, her partner Steve Fleury and their three children, ages 15, 13 and 11, keep 28 dogs on their 225-acre farm in Low, Quebec, just north of Wakefield. The dogs are a mix of Eurohounds and Alaskan sled dogs, bred for speed and the relative warmth of our winters. A purebred husky, Héroux explains, would find our winters too warm.
“But Eurohounds listen well, they tolerate heat, they run fast and they have an easy-going temperament,” she says. They are real athletes ready to exert themselves; show them a harness and they start singing. It’s a crescendo of noise until they’re gone, when they settle into stride and contented silence, saving their breath for the work at hand.
Currently Héroux and Fleury offer two daily outings throughout the winter. About to embark on their eighth season, the couple have seen growing interest in the sport. “It would take 100 dogs to meet the demand,” says Héroux. Over the past few years, the family has welcomed many rescue dogs to their team, but now they are starting to breed their own.
Each dog is fed twice a day; in the morning with soup and in the evening, after work, with fiber nuggets that come from New Brunswick and proteins that include meat, eggs and fish.
Ferme L’Aventure 6, ch. McCrank, Low, Quebec