Dog Mushing

Deana Case
Urban mushing

Dog mushing in the city? You bet! Rancy Reyes is the head of a dog sport group called Southern California Urban Mushing, a group that promotes the activity of urban dog mushing. This activity is the dry land version of dog sledding (mushing).

Love to Know Dogs had the opportunity to visit with Rancy and talk more about this fascinating sport.

About Urban Mushing

Southern California Urban Mushing began with Rancy, his husky named Niko, and a Diggler Scooter. It now has a membership of 330 people in its online discussion group. Local members of this group meet at a large park in Orange County, CA every weekend. Most of the time ten to twelve people and twenty to thirty dogs meet up to go scootering, bikejoring, and carting. The group is always willing to help newcomers to the sport of dog mushing.

Dog Mushing Interview

What is Urban Dog Mushing?

Basically, it is a dog sport where you have one to three dogs pulling you along in the same way a dog sledding team would pull a musher through the snow. Instead of a sled, the most popular urban mushing equipment is a scooter. Not a regular toy scooter, but a mountain scooter. A mountain scooter does have the skateboard-like platform to stand on just like a regular scooter. These types of scooters are made from the same parts as a mountain bike. They have tough terrain tires, shocks, and the most important thing: BRAKES! We also use the same types of dog pulling harnesses and lines that a dog sledding musher would use. You may also use a bike for urban dog mushing, this is called bikejoring. Or, you may want to use a cart, and you may even use a sled. Although most people associate urban dog mushing as a snowless activity, there are urban mushers in colder climates that use sleds in the snow like our friend Don Deckert.

How did you get involved with Urban Mushing?

I had two Siberian Huskies for 14 years. I did all kinds of activities with them. We went hiking, distance running, and biking. But it always felt like something was missing. During an online search, I found out about dog scootering, aka urban mushing. By this time, my dogs were too old to pull me, but I never forgot about it.I adopted a six month old Siberian Husky puppy named Niko after my dogs passed away. He was a ball of energy, and I began bikejoring with him to manage his activity level. Soon after that, I bought a scooter and we started dog scootering together.

Tell us about your dogs.

Well, you know what they say; Siberian Huskies are like potato chips, you can't have just one. I adopted Niko from a family who had purchased him with all good intentions to do all sorts of activities with him. By the time he was six months old, they were overwhelmed. So, I took him in. About six months after that I got Lyka from a woman who had rescued her from a shelter in Virginia. Shortly after that, I adopted Obi. They are great dogs, and they love to run with the scooter. We go for 2 mile walks on the days we don't scooter. We scooter every weekend unless it is too hot for them to do so.

Is this sport for Huskies only?

No, there are many breeds that were bred for pulling. Alaskan Malamutes, Samoyeds, and the Canadian Eskimo Dogs were all bred for pulling sleds. These are not the only dogs that enjoy dog sledding, mushing on dry land or bikejoring. Many working and sporting breed dogs really enjoy this activity. No matter what kind of dogs you have, if they have lots of energy and love to run and pull, they will enjoy urban dog mushing.

What advice do you have for someone wishing to get involved with this dog sport?

Canine coffee break

Only do this activity if your dog enjoys it. Young dogs with lots of energy are great for this sport. Make sure your dog is physically able to do dog sledding, mushing or scootering.

Be sure to get your dog used to the equipment, most dogs take to this like fish to water. Getting used to having a scooter behind them is pretty easy. Be sure you know the verbal commands associated with mushing. But more importantly, be sure your dog is trained and has learned them before you take a steep hill.

  • Go or Hike: This means to go forward. It also seems to be a cue for rabbits and squirrels to run into the path of your team.
  • Mush: The only person who uses this term is Yukon Cornelius in the movie Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
  • Gee: Turn right.
  • Haw: Turn left.
  • Easy: Slow down, and apply the brakes gently with this command.
  • Whoa: Stop.
  • Leave it: Do not touch the distraction you are focused on.
  • On by: Used along with Leave it to indicate that the team should keep moving forward

The only equipment you will need is a scooter, a dog pulling harness and a scooter line. There are several places to obtain this equipment online. Most of the people in our group use the mountain scooter made by Diggler. Alpine Outfitter's also makes an affordable all in one package that includes the scooter attachment, line and other hardware that you will need to get started.

Rancy, thanks for taking the time to visit with us. With people like you promoting this sport, it is certain to gain even more popularity.

It was a pleasure to talk with you, thanks for your interest in the group and the sport.

For More Information About Dog Mushing...

If you wish to know more about the Southern California Urban Mushers group, be sure to visit their website at UrbanMushing.com. You can also see the dogs and members in their television debut.

To learn more about the sports of dog sledding, mushing, dog pulling, bikejoring, and scootering, visit SledDogCentral.com.

Dog Mushing