Plucked from the pound, these sled dogs are pulling their weight — thanks to a good-hearted entrepreneur. By Vince Hempsall.
Eleven years ago, Matt Parr’s boss asked him to forgo his snowshoe guiding duties for the day and step in as a dog team musher. “Afterward I was like, ‘OK, yeah, this is amazing. I’m going to be a musher now and pick dog hair out of my food forever.”
Back then, Parr lived in Squamish, British Columbia, where he eventually bred his own team. When he decided to move to Golden in 2015, he sold the dogs for seed capital to start Golden Dog Sled Adventures. But purchasing a new team after the move proved too costly so he started contacting shelters. Today, Parr’s business is the only one in Canada that runs sled dogs who are all rescues.
It’s a challenging scenario because most mushers have teams of one breed and they’re trained from a young age. Parr’s 15 dogs are a mix of Alaskan Husky, prized for speed and endurance, and Siberian Husky, a slower breed that tolerates the cold better. They were rescued from various scenarios in three provinces at different ages. Some were well trained, while others weren’t.
It’s taken a lot of patience, but Parr now has a successful family business that offers private tours via two dog teams. “The whole rescue thing was counter to my original plan,” he says, “but it turned out to be a blessing. We’re doing the dog a good thing and it’s a hell of a nice feeling knowing that when I go to work every day.”