Posted by: travelrat | September 6, 2013

Going to the Dogs, Norwegian Style.

Dogs 3Alta: 23rd March 2013.

You’re probably tired of me ranting about how people in colder climes take in their stride conditions that would bring Britain to a standstill. But, I have to express my admiration for those Norwegian coach drivers anyway. We only got into a slight difficulty once; that was when our bus had to stop about a hundred metres short of the Holmen Hundsenter.

But, it was no problem to walk the short distance, and leave the driver to extricate his bus at leisure.

Now, even if you don’t speak a word of Norwegian (‘Hej!’ and ‘Tusend tak!’ are my limits) it doesn’t take much skill to translate Hundsenter. It’s a dog farm … and not a rescue centre or a kennels. These are working dogs that pull sleds, and beautiful creatures they are, too. In fact, the husky has taken its place beside the Labrador as my joint favourite dog breed.

There’s an opportunity to photograph the dogs; friendly creatures all, if somewhat noisy … with the exception of only one, which had the endearing habit of sticking his nose up his backside every time anyone pointed a camera at him. Just like a certain dog I used to own!

Over a cup of hot blueberry juice, served inside a traditional ‘laavu’, the owner, Eirik Nilsen, talked about his dogs, and explained how they prepare for the Finnmarksløpet race, over 600 miles; Europe’s longest dog race.

And, he said that, although his drivers were called ‘mushers’, they never used the word ‘mush!’

The main attraction was a 20 minute ride through the woods on a dog sled. The fact that it was snowing made it an even more enjoyable experience. Visitors can either ride in the sled as passengers or, if feeling really intrepid, drive it themselves. They do stipulate, though, that parties are made up of a driver and passenger (they can, of course, change over halfway) who must be known to each other.

If you’re not heading ‘Furthest North’ any time soon, you can visit Eirik and his dogs at http://www.holmenhusky.no

Dogs 2


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