Thursday, July 31, 2008

Adirondack Museum Goes to the Dogs

The Adirondack Museum will once again offer the “Dog Days of Summer” on August 2, 2008 featuring canine demonstrations, programs, and activities. One highlight is demonstrations of Skijoring dry land training, but there will also be a pooch parade and history presentations reflecting the role of dogs in the Adirondacks. Here are the details from the Museum’s press office:

The event will include a few simple rules and regulations for doggies and their people: dogs must be leashed at all times; owners must clean up after their pets – special bags will be available; dogs will only be allowed on the grounds – not in the exhibit buildings; Doggie Day Care will be available throughout the day at no charge, with the understanding that dogs cannot be left for more than an hour; poorly behaved or aggressive dogs will be asked to leave the museum grounds with their owners.

Curator Hallie Bond will offer a richly illustrated program, “Dog Days in the Adirondacks” in the museum’s Auditorium at 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Bond will share the adventures and exploits of Scotty, Gardie, Dandy, Fritz, Jack and Lucy – historic Adirondack characters whose stories have never been told – because they were dogs.

“Dog Days” demonstrations will include “Agility” at 11:00 a.m. and 12:00 noon featuring a variety of dogs going through their paces on an agility/obstacle course featuring hurdles, weave poles, and tunnels. “Dry Land Training for Skijoring” will be demonstrated at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.

Skijoring is a winter dog- or horse-powered sport popularized in North America and derived from the Scandinavian sport of pulka. It involves a horse or from one to three dogs hitched directly to a human being on skis. Skijoring was a demonstration sport in the 1928 Winter Olympics.

While skijoring behind a dog, the person wears a hip harness with a clip for attaching a lead, which is attached to the harness worn by the animal. The dog provides extra power to the skier who uses either a classic cross-country technique, or the faster skate skiing technique.

Any dog over the age of one year and in general good health can pull a skijorer, assuming they are physically able to do so. The classic northern breeds, such as Siberian and Alaskan Huskies, Malamutes, or Inuit dogs take to skijoring with glee. However, any pet dog is capable of enjoying this and many cross-breeds are seen in harness.

The dogs are taught the classic “mushing” commands to start running (hike), turn (gee and haw), and stop. Training is best done on foot, before the person straps on their skis, to avoid being pulled into objects, like trees or half-frozen creeks!

The “Dog Days” dry-land demonstrations will include: Bikejoring – dogs and a bicyclist working together; Canicross – dogs and a runner working together; and Cart or Scooter – dogs pulling a two or three-wheeled rig. Betsy McGettigan, Grace McDonnell, and Amelia and Royal McDonnell (two up-and-coming young skijorers) will be the presenters.

Museum visitors and their pets are invited to participate in the Rustic Agility Course from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. and join the gala narrated Pooch Parade at 2:00 p.m. The 2007 parade featured a who’s who of dog breeds. Not to be missed!

For information call (518) 352-7311, or visit www.adirondackmuseum.org.

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