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Finding Minnesota: Taking A Ride With Sled Dogs

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(credit: CBS) Angela Davis
Angela Davis joined the station in 2006. Angela co-anchors the Sund...
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By Angela Davis, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Long before people used snowmobiles to travel across the deep snow of our Minnesota winters, they relied on dogs who pulled sleds.

As far back as the 1800s, sled dogs helped people move supplies across frozen trails, before folks started racing them.

Today, you can still go on a dog sledding ride.

There’s a company in Dakota County that takes people out on sledding trails in the metro area and in southern Minnesota.

When you meet the dogs it is clear they have no interest in taking a walk. They want to run.

Dawn Lanning is the owner of Hastings Huskies and Horses. She owns more than 30 Siberian Huskies that work in teams to take people for rides.

“They’re very social, so they’re not a dog that you can put in the backyard and leave them sitting in the backyard all day long by themselves. You will come home and they won’t be there and then they get in trouble when they are loose because they love to run,” Lanning said.

Siberian huskies are unique dog. Most have bright blue eyes and ears that sit on top of their heads. And not only do they love to run miles at a time, they don’t care to be to be inside. It’s too hot for them with all that fur.

They’re able to tolerate harsh winter conditions. They work hard and don’t eat much.

Lanning said there’s a process for what goes into getting the dogs into position for a sled ride.

Younger dogs with less experience go in the back. The most obedient and strongest dogs go in the front.

“An ideal lead dog is going to be fast, so it keeps the line tight,” she said. “They’re going to listen to you because there’s commands because it’s not like I can steer these guys, they actually have to listen to commands.”

As for the passengers in the sled, we have to do our part, too.

“Keep in mind it’s a lot like skiing, so as we’re go around a curve, you’re going to lean a little bit in. So you get to practice luge,” Lanning said.

And for people who are brave enough, they will even teach you how to drive on these sledding trips.

Lanning’s company spends a lot of time taking school groups, Boy Scout troops and families out on rides.

They meet at county parks with designated sledding trails and they get to spend some time with those lovely Huskies.

Some of the places they go are Lake Byllesby Regional Park in Cannon Falls, Baker Park Reserve in Maple Plain, Fort Snelling State Park and the Root River trail that goes through Lanesboro.

Lanning and her staff also travel up to Ely with her dogs.

If you think you want to give it a try, there is an event coming up next month at Ritter Farm Park in Lakeville.

You can find out more about it and Hastings Huskies and Horses by clicking here.

WCCO-TV’s Angela Davis Reports

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