Spending an afternoon riding along with Greenlandic sled dogs is something you won’t soon forget. They have a commanding presence with their shrill voices and thick winter coats that allow them to endure winter’s wrath.
The energy level and endurance of sled dogs is unmatched, and it seems the command ‘Go’ is completely unnecessary as they are constantly in ‘Go’ mode! Sled dogs howl and jump at the mere sight of the musher, and you better hold on to your dog sled or else these instinctive pullers will speed off without you!
THE ART OF MUSHING
The sled dogs provide the power, but the real star in the dog sledding world is the musher. Greenlanders are people of few words and are often taken as shy, but accompany them mushing a pack of sled dogs and their presence will suddenly be known. With a handful of command calls and a formidable whip as their only tools, the mushers skillfully drive their packs of sled dogs in order to safely reach their favorite fishing hole or hunting grounds.
Mastering the art of mushing is vital to prevent sled dogs’ disobedience from turning into a matter of life or death, and in Greenland the learning starts early. Passing from one generation to the next, children often have their own small sleds and even a few dogs of their own, though they are never mistaken that the dogs are working animals and not pets. It is a proud day when a Greenlander forms his first pack and leads it over mountains and sea ice.