BY SARAH LINDSTEIN

We’re not yet into the depths of fall and already the dog-powered sports enthusiasts are gearing up for another exciting season of mushing and racing.

Now, many people might be asking themselves what exactly a dog-powered sport is, and it’s simple – anything sporty you participate in with your pooch: mushing, agility, skijoring, freight-pull, dryland; they are all ways that dogs power fun.

The Dog Powered Sports Association (DPSA) took a look at their schedule this year and decided to introduce the first annual Dog Powered Sports Symposium to educate, entertain and showcase professionals from every sort of dog-powered activity from professional racers to backyard-agility pups.

“We wanted to make our first symposium very broad and accessible to everyone,” says DPSA board treasurer, Simi Morrison, a mushing enthusiast with six years under her belt. With great expanses of snow, the Yukon has a large community of racing professionals involved in dog sports, but for the symposium it’s important to include those interested in more recreational dog activities.

The symposium offers a wide range of experts speaking in panel sessions. With that variety, there is a wealth of information.

Dog sports involve a living partner, so what happens when your agility star starts limping? Veterinarian John Overell takes dog owners through nutrition and ailments for working dogs.

Ever wanted to try a new sport with your dog? Learn how skijoring, freight-pull and dryland sports work, with experts Jonathan Lucas and Dave Desmarais. Training your dog is also a hot topic, with professionals speaking on conformation, agility training and even cart-pulling for dogs – it’s not just for horses anymore.

Even the long-haul mushers are sharing trade secrets at the distance mushers panel with speakers Hans Gatt, William Kleedehn, Gerry Wollowmitzer and Sebastian Schnuelle.

“We’ve been considering a symposium for two years now, and we were inspired after learning about the Sled Dog Symposium in Fairbanks, which is a weekend affair,” says Morrison.

The DPSA approached this year with many goals and projects aimed at getting the public out and into dog-powered sports. They are even starting up local sled races in the wintertime.

“We’ve had great feedback so far and we’re hoping the public enjoys the symposium. We wanted to really bring the mushing and dog community together and this is our opportunity,” says Morrison.

The symposium is on Sunday, September 13, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Mount McIntyre Recreation Centre’s Grey Mountain Room. There is a free exposition of vendors and non-profit organizations and clubs for the public. Entry to attend the panels is $25 a day for members or $10 per panel session and $35 a day for non-members or $15 per panel.

For more information about DPSA and the symposium, contact Simi Morrison at chocosimi@ekit.com and check out the schedule of events at www.dpsay.wordpress.com.