Experience Dog Sledding in Quebec with Au Chalet En Bois Rond
I had many reservations about participating in dog sledding. After just spending two beautiful weeks honoring the animals of Africa, I was very sensitive to animals being used or abused for entertainment. If we were going to do this, it was important to choose a company that really cared for the dogs, that the dogs there were happy, were not forced to participate and wanted to run. I was nervous picking a company that did not take care of the dogs and had any animal cruelty. After reading many reviews and researching companies, I found Au Chalet n Bois Rond. Reviews gave me confidence to book and I was hopeful the right decision was made.
This was a bit of a hike from Quebec City (which also gave me good vibes that it was the real deal). After we picked up our Turo car rental in the morning, we headed straight for the dog sledding for an hour drive. It was repeated multiple times to make sure you arrive early to check in and make it to the correct location for the activities. We arrived about twenty minutes before our session, checked in at the registration desk and then headed over to the activity which was only a few minute drive away.
When we got out of the car, the dogs were instantly audible – they were squealing and barking with excitement – they knew it was time to run soon and they could not wait. The nervous feelings I had melted away as we got to know our guides and learn how to dog sled.
There were a dozen or so people at the ready for this time slot and we were divided into two groups – one for instructions in French and one for English… and Kevin and I were the only ones in the English group. Our guide taught us how to use the sled – one person would sit in the basket and the other would be the driver. The driver would responsible for keeping their feet on the skis and their hands on the sled. There was a mat in the middle of the skis that was used to slow down – a light press of the foot – or break – firm press of one or both feet. We were instructed to keep a distance between the sleds as if we were driving a car and to make sure to slow down ahead of turns – or else the sled will not turn – and slow down ahead of going downhill. The instructions were straight forward but somehow it felt like there was way more to it.
We were brought over to our sleds and met our dogs but we were not allowed to pet them yet – that would be saved for afterward. Each sled had four dogs all extremely excited for their run. Kevin took his position as the driver so I got comfy in the basket. Once the dogs were unhooked from the fence, their pull was unbelievable. Even with Kevin firmly pressing down the break pad with two feet the dog were pulling ready to go. We were the last sled of our four sled caravan – we watched our guide dash off, then the two sleds in front of us, then Kevin lifted his feet from the break pad onto the skis and off we went and boy did we fly. We made a turn away from the hut and into the unknown. Kevin and I both simultaneously hoped the dogs knew where we were going!
It was amazing and exhilarating – these dogs were in their element! Every time Kevin went to break ahead of a turn or because we were too close to the sled in front of us, the dogs turned around to look at Kevin – what gives and why are we stopping? As we dashed along, the dogs would take bites of the snow as a water source and it was both funny and resourceful. As we made our way through the property, it was exceptionally beautiful – everything covered in snow and it was also snowing but it was almost static snow like we were in a snow globe.
After a bit of time, we starting going through a forest which again was like we were in a painting. Eventually we stopped for a break – which most of the dogs were not happy about but they did accept the snow snack. Some of the dogs laid in the snow, one even stuck its entire head in the snow! It was fun to watch them but after a few minutes, they were over the break and wanted to go go go – we could not believe how strong their pull was and how eager they were to run.
After an hour on the trail, we made it back to the start welcomed by the bark of the dogs anxious for their turn to get out on the trail. Now it was time to give thanks to the dogs for a great run! We also got to learn more about each of the dogs. Kevin was in his element – I think every dog on each sled got some pets from him.
Then we got to meet the newest generation of dogs – eight month old puppies that would soon learn how to pull the sled. Depending on when you visit, you may even get the opportunity to enjoy the tiniest puppies!
What an incredible morning! It was far more exhilarating and fun than I expected and I am so happy we found the perfect company to enjoy dog sledding.