Snow or no, there will be dogs

Snow or no, they’re about to let the dogs out.

Although this year’s Winterfest is unlikely to feature scheduled sled dog races, mushers will be at Chapman State Park this weekend with dogs and equipment in tow.

Tails of the Tundra Siberian Husky Rescue (TOTTSHR) isn’t letting a little thing like bare ground stop them from visiting Winterfest. The group is planning to attend this year’s event to share their love of dog-powered sports and the animals that make it possible.

While the group plans to give demonstrations of a number of vehicles, including those that do not require snow, and provide question and answer sessions on the sports they love, their primary mission will be spreading the word about canine rescue efforts.

“The organization provides rescue for Siberian Husky and Husky Mixes,” Dr. Daniel Rehak with Tails of the Tundra said. “TOTTSHR takes in dogs and helps find homes. That’s our main goal. All the dogs that will be in the demo are our own dogs; many are from rescue. (I’m) not sure if we’ll bring any adoptable dogs. But we are available to talk to folks about what we have that are available for adoption and the adoption process. We can arrange follow-up discussions with anyone who is interested.”

Rehak said in an e-mail, the group plans to bring four or five teams of up to four dogs out to strut their stuff.

In the event snow doesn’t materialize, the group will exhibit what Rehak said is known in the mushing world as urban mushing or dryland mushing.

“With the lack of snow in recent years, everyone is doing more dryland than sledding,” Rehak said.

“You will find that us northern breed dog owners are just as determined as our dogs,” TOTTSHR President Paige Bluhm said. “Without snow, we find other ways to run and have fun with our dogs.”

Demonstrations will include exhibition of three-wheeled racing rigs and two-wheeled scooter vehicles, as well as canicross, the sport of running with your dog without a vehicle.

“We’ll explain equipment, about the dogs, what we do,” Rehak’s e-mail explained, “then show them running and pulling. We do Q&A during and afterwards and are available at the TOTTSHR pavilion 1. We’ll be there all day, both days, and available to answer questions anytime. People can meet the dogs, see the equipment, any time, either day.”

According to Rehak, the event is good for the dogs as well.

“Siberian Huskies are working dogs. They need exercise and they love to pull. You can see how much they love it when we do the demos,” Rehak said. “Letting them run and pull is good for them, gives them the exercise they need and enjoy, and provides exercise for the person, too. We all got started as a way to give our dogs this exercise and let them do what they do naturally.”

According to Ed Atwood, who is helping organize Winterfest, the demonstrations are not to be missed.

“These people will be up there all weekend long and be giving demonstrations,” he said. “They are pretty impressive.”

TOTTSHR will have basic equipment for sale on site and, according to Rehak, can help people fit their dogs if they want to try mushing. The group will also assist interested potential mushers with information on how to get started and where to find other mushing events. The group will also be able to point them toward more information.

TOTTSHR can be found at pavilion 1 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday and will attend Friday night’s spaghetti dinner at Kalbfus Rod and Gun Club.

“We encourage people to stop by,” Bluhm said.

Tentative demo times at Winterfest are Saturday at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

For more on TOTTSHR, visit www.warrencountywinterfest/Huskies.html or their own website at www.siberescue.com.