Dog lovers, rejoice! You can now hire huskies to accompany you on a hike through the National Forest of Petite Charnie, located just south of the Perche Regional Natural Park.
With Sled Dog Ride, a company found in the small village of Saint-Symphorien in the Sarthe region of France, you can borrow one or many of owner Benjamin Thomelin’s four-legged friends to help you navigate and keep you company while you journey through the forest. There are a few activity options available: you can opt for the ‘cani-kart’ which, similar to its better-known winter activity of dog sledding, has a team of huskies pull you through the lush, boreal forest of Petite Charnie while you sit back and relax on the cart, enjoying the ride. This option includes expert guidance by a musher (a dogsled driver, who also guides the dogs) and is an ideal choice for families with young kids and those with limited mobility.
For adventure seekers, you can also have the dogs join you for a stroll through the woods. With the dogs attached by a belt fastened around your hips, the pups will lead the way so you can take in your surroundings, knowing you’re in good paws. You can also arrange special events, such as birthday parties, bachelorettes and corporate team-building.
Each walk begins with a safety talk, an introduction to the dogs and information on each of their roles as a team. All the while, Benjamin and his team will attach the harnesses to ensure you’re secure. The amount of time you’ll have with the dogs depends on your activity; sled rides are typically about one hour in length and hikes are about two hours long. Every event ends with time for a photo opportunity and to care for the huskies, offering them water, treats and hugs to thank them for their services.
Benjamin, the owner, has had a love for pups since he was a young child, derived from growing up around his uncle’s Alaskan Malamutes. He and his cousin would play the role of musher while the dogs would pull them around on their BMX bikes. At age 22, Benjamin purchased a Siberian husky of his own and was so enamoured that he decided to build his team. It’s now been 10 years since he began his business as a professional musher and dog trainer and his passion continues today.
If you find yourself in a different corner of France but still want to spend time hiking with huskies, you could choose to visit the Jura Mountains of eastern France, where summer hikes are on offer as well as dog sled rides through snow-covered valleys during the winter season. In Chamonix, dog sledding provides an alternative to skiing for exploring the Alps and remains a popular winter activity in the area.