Whitehorse is not only lucky enough to be situated on Canada’s crowning jewel of cross country ski trails, but to have approximately ⅓ of that jewel welcome skiing with dogs!

My dog happily wags her tail at the signs of going for a walk: puffy coats, warm socks and bulky mitts all point towards her happy future.  But when the skis come out… that tail goes into maximum overdrive. She bolts around the house, not caring where she’s going, as long as she’s going somewhere to express her intoxicating level of excitement.

In that dog mind of hers, which has come to link stray shoes with chew toys; door knocks with villains; garbage with entertainment; and the roast turkey on the kitchen table with her own dinner; she has also come to realize skis mean Mount McIntyre.

Mount Mac means no longer having to toddle along with slow poke owners. No, no, no!

Mount Mac means freedom, where she can sprint along on endless trails to her heart’s content.

Mount Mac means there are more dogs to be meet and more smells to smell. It’s a dog’s Happiest Place on Earth – making Mount Mac a dog’s Disneyland.

The problem is with my dog in the Disneyland of Mount Mac, I no longer have that calm puppy, sitting and looking up at us with patience and loyalty.

Nope.

Now I’ve got the rebel trying to see if she can leap out of the closed windows before we can open the car door.

But we’ve learned from our mistakes. Now, driving over we devise a state of the art, tactical strategy, that would flabbergast the most qualified of special agents.

One person, normally the strongest and most willing to take a paw to the face, is assigned to hold the dog, while the other two back-flip out of the van ninja-style.

(Okay, maybe not quite like that – but that’s the same efficiency and urgency that we’re operating on.)

We haul the skis, poles and snacks, and huff it to the trailhead. Meanwhile the unlucky dog handler struggles to negotiate the leash and walks the dog through the parking lot. Correction: the dog drags them through the parking lot.

Then comes the magic moment. After holding the dog back and back and back, we only need to do one more thing: unhook the leash carabiner and hear the satisfying “click.”

Like the bark of a gun, she’s off running the race of her life. But she isn’t racing like humans. She isn’t running to win anything. She isn’t running for glory, for fame, for a prize.

She is running for the love it; the love of the snow beneath her paws and the limitless forests just begging her to come and explore. No destination in mind, no end in sight, just a joyful sprint with the wind.

That’s Mount Mac to our dog.

And yes, that joyous sprint occasionally leads her to drop a stick in the tracks, which we’ll grumble, stop and throw back into the bush. However, to bask in the excitement of the ski trails, I offer Mount McIntyre my sincerest gratitude. Thank You.