Did you know that by riding with us, our dogs are training for competitions?
Dog Sled Race
At Aventures Liguoriennes, the passion for sports and for dog sled race are inseparable
Everything started in 1992 when David, at age 11, stops with his dad in front of a closed road, in order to let dog sled teams, in the middle of a race, go by. When they stepped out of the car, a huge roar awaited them; dogs were howling and barking their excitement, just before the imminent start of the race. These fabulous athletes, waiting anxiously to race across this majestic scenery, leave a deep impression on David. As a matter of fact, on the very next day, him and his father build a home-made sleigh to which David will try to harness Bob, the big Labrador dog of the house. In this winter of 1992, there will be no races, but the first rides in the family forests alone with his dog, often in the morning before heading out for school.
The following year, David purchases 3 Alaskan dogs. The kennel is officially created and the team gets ready for its first race, a 3 dog and 5 km sprint race. Just like any other race, there are categories where the number of dogs and the distance in kilometres are imposed. Generally, sprints bring together hound types of dogs that can run faster than 40 km per hour. There are also mid-distance races, in which teams race for distances ranging from 80 to 200 km, in one or two stages. Finally, there is the long distance, the ultra-marathons of sled dogs. Between 300 and 1 600 km. Those races have demonstrated without question that sled dogs are breeds of dogs physiologically built for racing. An Alaskan dog carries 5 to 8 times more oxygen in its blood than a Labrador, that is saying something. In competitions, they can assimilate more than 10 000 calories per day.
And you know what? It is that passion that we share with you when you come and ride at Aventures Liguoriennes. But be careful! This passion is contagious! Marie-Hélène also fell in love with dog sledding when she met David in 2004. Today, they ride along the trails with their three children, with the two oldest, aged 9 and 12, leading their own sleigh, and the youngest, aged 6, standing proudly in the double sleigh, encouraging his dogs. Michaël, who has been working with the couple for more than 10 years now, first came to the site as a client wanting to go for a ride. We can say he never left! Pierre-Luc, on his part, has been a member of the team for 4 years, while pursuing a master’s degree. Even when he is on vacation, he comes regularly to visit the dogs, to their utmost delight!
You will see, going on a ride at Les Aventures Liguoriennes is also, for an instant, being part of that passion and of this great dog loving family.
So, this winter, experience this incredible adventure! Come and meet our affectionate pack and lead your team across snowy trails. Taste the adrenaline of the start followed by the blissful calm of a ride in the silence of winter. Who knows! You might also get addicted!
Every race is a great adventure
Now back to the races, victories are not what motivates our young racer, on the contrary. Finishing last almost all the time, each race is a great adventure regardless of the result. The main goal is to have as much fun as the small pack. Breeding his own dogs with a litter every 3 years and selecting his champions with care, it is only around the year 2010 that David will show up with a competitive team for mid-distance races. With two wins in a row at L’Odyssée Appalachienne, an 80 km race he wins in 3,5 hours, and with podiums after at the Can-Am Crown (in Main and Greenville, USA), it is the beginning of a great adventure that will bring his team just about everywhere on the North-American circuit.
Long distance race, another way to train and play with dogs
We are now aiming for long distance races. It is another step, another way of training, feeding, and playing with the dogs. After 30 years of passion, it is a new way to rediscover this sport and it is rewarding!
Just imagine, training starts in August, early in the morning to get as much coolness as possible, with short 10 km distances, and gradually adding distance, depending on the temperature and the progress of the dogs. Then, you have to practise routines; give snacks to the dogs; put on their leg protection; and finally start the long training sessions by day and night. You have to feel at one with the dogs, be moved by their hard work and their motivation and recognize that, day after day, they give relentlessly. You have to go for kilometres observing each dog; the gait, the legs, the back; you must be really focused in order to avoid all unnecessary tiredness. You must especially make sure that the dogs keep this powerful and instinctive desire for racing, until the end of March, at which time we gradually reduce the number of outings and add more free play, until the summer pause where there will only be games and free running.
In this type of race, performance makes little difference. In the words of mushers, the expression often heard is going out for a “nice long tour”. Riding 300 km day and night is of course an understatement! It is mostly an incredible opportunity to experience a great adventure, in symbiosis with your dogs and nature. The night stages are absolutely beautiful: seeing the lamps of the other teams in the distance, transiting across valleys, then lakes; startling partridges who were sleeping in the snow, all of this in pure silence. Breaks then follow and, during those breaks, every minute is crucial. Despite the cold and the fatigue, we have to start a fire and prepare the soup for the dogs, put the blankets, spread the hay, massage the dogs, feed them and make sure that they sleep. After two or three hours, the dogs go again with the same enthusiasm!
When they arrive at the kennel, our visitors often exclaim themselves when they see the pack: “You know the names of all the dogs!” Of course! Other than spending 12 months a year, 7 days a week with the pack, most of our dogs were literally born in our house. After two days of life, our children gradually start petting the dogs, to get them accustomed to our odours and the sound of our voices. We know their names for sure, but also their personalities, their strengths, theirs weaknesses and their peculiarities. And when there is excitement in the kennel, we always know who is celebrating just by recognizing the barking. It is a happy mix of a kindergarten class, a work team and a family.
Here are some of our dogs:
The smiling dog! Indeed, when he is happy to see us arrive, he raises his gums in a funny way, as if he was smiling! Born in 2009, from Blanche and Lutin, Charlot is a natural leader. In other words, we didn’t have to show him how to lead the team. Charlot is highly endearing, affectionate and extremely talented in competitions. He was the one who gave us our first victories. Like many strong, enduring and relentless dogs, he is also a stubborn and rather proud dog. He is also a dominant male and we have to organize our teams properly when we add him to a sleigh. He is the father of two litters at the kennel. When we pet him, he loves to squeeze his head between our arms and push really hard!
The best of the best, daughter of Charlot and Trouppi, born in 2013, she is a love of a dog. Like her father and mother, she best expresses herself at the front of the team. Always calm, it is a little embarrassing to see her at the start of a race. When all the dogs are jumping and barking with excitement, it is not unusual to see her sitting and waiting for the start signal. She is the fastest dog of the kennel, ever since she was born. During free running sessions with her brothers and sisters, she would easily and consistently take the lead.
The great leader and chief of the kennel, son of Charlot and Trouppi, brother of Goyave, born in 2013. It is with him that the team achieved its best times in competitions. Proud, dominant, very intelligent, he loves to chase the other teams in front of him. Too fast for most of the dogs of the kennel, David has to move him around during races so he doesn’t exhaust the other dogs. Arthur is a warrior. During rides, when the great plains are being swept by the winds and you can’t see anything, he is the one who opens the trails. He is a faithful friend, very loyal, affectionate, demonstrating great maturity and wisdom. He has a Sphinx holding of the head!
Our camping slipper… and one of our best leaders! Varek came into the team in 2016, born from a great line of long-distance racing dogs, he comes from Denis Tremblay, a friend and a great musher. Denis raced the Yukon Quest (1 600 km) 3 times, has won almost everywhere in North America and left us Varek because, according to him, he lacked a bit of appetite. You have to know that at this level of competition, the dogs have to eat often (10 000 calories a day), regardless of the conditions. But we found the solution, Varek eats at fixed hours! Even if the soup is served at 7:30, he will wait at 8:00 to eat his meal. Not ideal when you are racing on the ice pack, but in our family, he is the great friend of the children, the only dog who gets in a boat! He is not a jumping dog, he is calm and extremely sweet with the children. He is also an excellent lead dog and he is part of all our competitions.
She is our Holstein (cow) canine, born from Picot and Daisy, at the same time as our son Mathias in 2008. Belle is round. Very round. When she gets vaccines, veterinarians always search for a spot to put the needle in. But Belle has raced the Odyssée Appalachienne in 2013 and 2014 and has beaten the speed record of that race on 80 km. It is this kind of dog that made us understand that even the most beautiful dog must, above all, have a racer mentality to become an athlete.
The beautiful! Daughter of Goyave and Varek, born in 2018, she and her two sisters (Rose and Loumi) are also natural leaders. She doesn’t necessarily have a great racer physique, but ever since her very young age, she has always been ultra fast. A rocket. She devours the trails. Generally, at about 3 or 4 months, we do more free running where the dogs run behind the quad. We consequently learn about their skills and we discover what kind of racers they will become. It was quite a surprise to see her go head first and officially become one of the fastest dogs of the kennel. Mina is a ball of love, very much alive and excited, but very intelligent. She is the favourite dog of our daughter Jeanne.
We could continue like this for a long time and introduce you to Marmotte, Zia, Baladin, Patrak and Mali, Tobi, Tom and Peluche, Daisy and Buck, Maps, Diva, Chouette, Comète, Peenut, Azote, Vanille, Kayak, Valca, Dagobert and Noireau, Jonas, Juno and Phil, Paul (aka Polo), Miro, Fine and Oblique, Poncho, our old Miloche, Smart, Caboche and our three new small litters.
You find they have funny names? Us too! The names often come from Mathias, Arnaud and Jeanne, our children who, along with us, spend a lot of time with the dogs. That is the reason why we have a bunch of big affectionate dogs, whose emotional needs have been satisfied on their very first days. We offer our dogs a beautiful living environment, we make sure they are happy and our dogs repay us greatly every day.