Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Powered By Dog

Neighbors here in the Bitterroot have Belgian draft horses and, with the coming of spring, drug out the farm implements, hooked up the horses and began tilling the fields. These same people also use their horses for pulling carriages. I applaud them and others who use their animals for the purposes they were bred for. It’s healthy for the animal and makes them happy. This is partly the reason why we got into dog sledding. Not only are the dogs happier since we’ve started sledding and dry land training regularly but they listen and behave better too.

The neighbors seem to live closer than most to self sustaining capabilities with their horses and I wondered if we couldn’t also be doing so with our dogs. You’d think by having sled dogs we’d be living “green” yet our hobby is causing us to live less so. Instead of burning less gas by running dogs we burn more getting to a place with good enough snow to sled. This causes me great torment and I constantly wonder why we didn’t move to Alaska. In the right place, we could have simply run the dogs from our front door. But since we didn’t move to Alaska we must deal with the cards we dealt ourselves. While we try and find a closer place to sled in the winter so we burn less gas getting there, I’d also like to attempt some other ideas too.

While Cobey has big dreams of running the American Discovery Trail by dog, I have my sights set a little closer to home. I’d like to commute by dog to work and back. It probably wouldn’t become habit, unfortunately for a number of reasons, one of which is that the infrastructure doesn’t exist for this to be done safely daily. To prove a point though, I’d like to at least try it once or twice. There may come a day (the way the gas prices are headed) sooner than later that it will become more practical (and only in the cool months of the year). It would take a little coordinating such as a safe place to kennel the dogs while I’m at work, training for that mileage, and waking up earlier (yikes!) but I think it could be done.

Another dream of mine is to build a “dog wheel” like Martin Buser has in his yard (a short clip can be seen at 3 min 38 sec in this video). His dogs really enjoy it and get to run to their heart’s content in the dog yard. But mine would have a twist to it, it’d take someone with more knowledge on this subject then me, but I’d like to use it to create power as well. I think it is possible. I don’t know how feasible it is.

One last dream I have is to use Siberian fur (that they shed…don’t worry) to spin into yarn and make warm garments out of. We recently moved within ¼ mile of Willows and Wool, a local spinning, weaving and knitting shop that gives classes on all of these skills.

So there you have it. Some dreams. If they all occur, we still won’t “break even” on our carbon footprint, not even close, but we’re working on making that footprint smaller by driving less and finding other ways to power our lives, By Dog!

Love your puppas!

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