dog owners' pet exercise regime extends little further than a leisurely
plod around the local recreation ground, allowing pooch to relieve
itself and bark at some shiny things.
Sean Thompson, however, has a rather more gruelling routine.
the proud owner of a trio of huskies, and is currently training
his canine compadres in preparation for one of the world's foremost
sled races - the 2005 Aviemore Sled Dog Rally.
has been granted special permission to practise in two areas of
the Forest of Dean and BBC Gloucestershire's Naomi Wordley joined
him for his final session prior to the big race.
the antisocial 6am start, the dogs were keen to go, expressing their
excitement in typical fashion - barking a lot.
a race they can reach speeds of up to 20mph, and the sport requires
not only considerable bravery but a high level of fitness.
"When you reach a steep uphill section you need to get off
and give the dogs a hand," said Sean.
explained that there is also the risk of falling off or the dogs
becoming tangled, so racers need to be physically tough.
TO SPEAK HUSKY
Haw - Left
Hike - Let's go!
Hutchinson, Simon's friend and fellow husky owner (she has eight)
came along to lend a hand.
Sean and team set off on a 2.5km circuit through the Forest, she
discussed the practicalities of sled racing.
explained that the dogs' welfare was paramount for any good 'musher':
"During the race he will be looking at their condition, how
they're running, whether any of them are limping."
maintains that most of the dogs are more than happy spend their
time dragging noisy humans up steep hills: "They love it, anyone
who's seen the dogs can't say that the barking is anything other
do have one who's not so keen but we don't make her do it.
lives revolve around them - it's very rare that we get to just go
off on holiday."
this level of commitment required, it seems unlikely that husky
racing will be the nation's next big hobby craze.
when Sean and the team emerge breathless from the woods, his pleasure
he panted, "was a really good session."
pleased with his team's progress, Sean is realistic in his expectations
of the Aveimore event.
not hopeful of doing extremely well in terms of results," he
said, "I just hope that the dogs run to their potential, (if)
they do that then I'm happy really.
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