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No snow? Doesn't matter!

AFP
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There is no snow in California, yet there is no dearth of fun for these mushers and huskies...

Cool with it:Urban mushing is similar to traditional snow sledding, but instead of pulling a snow sled, mushers pull a scooter or cart with wheels over dry land courses.Photo: AFP
Cool with it:Urban mushing is similar to traditional snow sledding, but instead of pulling a snow sled, mushers pull a scooter or cart with wheels over dry land courses.Photo: AFP

California's lack of snow is no problem for Obi, a sled dog a thousand miles from the North Pole, pulling an "urban sled" to the delight of his devoted human owner, Rancy Reyes.

Reyes mushes on a two-wheeled cart through Fairview Park in Costa Mesa, south of Los Angeles, pulled by Obi and his team of seven other huskies. And Reyes is not the only one.

Along the trail other urban mushers trek across the sunny park on scooters or even bicycles — pulled by their trusty arctic canines.

It's a Saturday tradition. Each week, owners of huskies, Alaskan Malamutes and Samoyeds get up early with their pups to take them to Fairview Park to kick up some dirt on the trails.

These pet owners got involved in "urban sledding" as a way to pamper their pets by helping them live out their birthright.

"Huskies have so much energy," Reyes explained, "what they were bred to do is to run and pull."

Reyes started mushing when he adopted Niko, a clumsy and hyperactive six-month-old husky who needed more exercise.

To help him use up some of that energy, "I bought a scooter, I hooked up Niko to it and we ran along the trails and he loved it. He just loves to run," Reyes said.

Soon after, Reyes began training other people and their pets in urban mushing.

"This is a treat," said Kathy Tamanaha, who has owned a Samoyed for two years.

"These are sled dogs. It's in their breeding. They're totally meant to pull," she said.

A handmade mushing cart can cost up to 1.1 lakh rupees, said Henning Bartel, 45, a structural engineer who so far has made 50 of the specialty vehicles.

The dogs can pull a single person on a scooter at speeds reaching 12 to 25 miles (20 to 40 kilometers) per hour, and the pros can get going even faster, up to 30 miles (50 kilometers) an hour.

The dogs follow "voice commands. Which means they have to focus, to pay attention to you. So it also exercises their minds," he said.AFP


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