A Family Business

Tired and worn down from overseas travel, the usual dreamy thought permeated our first day: the desire for a warm, comfortable place in which to retreat and recover.

Thanks to our new friends at Routa Travel, we will henceforth add one more requirement to our usual dreamy list of desires…

Doggies. Lots and lots of doggies.

Doggies to pick us up in the vehicle.

Doggies to share dinner with.

Doggies to snuggle in bed with.

Because the doggies are not just used to pull sleds, they are there to give love and be loved. This is a family business.

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Hippu rode with us in the car and kept us accompanied in the cabin. And if some cheese happened to fall her way, she didn’t mind.


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Hilda, another sucker for cheese, was our team leader the next day.


“More important than their ability to pull is how they are with our guests,” Aki said as we stood at the helm of the second dog sled. We had made a quick stop to take photos half way through, and while one would expect the dogs to enjoy the rest along this 20km route, they were jumping and pulling, singing of their desire to continue.

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Pete returned to join me in my sled, and Aki moved up front with the first team. He pushed off, and I held my foot on the brake, waiting for some distance to be made in between us. Our lead dogs, Hilda and Kirpu, were more anxious than ever, eager to follow the soft voice of their master as he beckoned his own team ahead. I soon found that it didn’t matter how long I waited to create distance, the team soon made up the difference. I had to continuously ride the brake to keep their competitive spirit from trying to overtake the lead team.

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I was in my element. As a kid, my family had two huskies – Gopher, a well-trained older dog and Babes, a young one with a fiery personality. We would harness them to our toboggan and let them pull us around our very small town. More often than not, we’d end up tangled around a stop sign thanks to Babe’s ignorance of simple commands, but it never stopped us from trying again and again.

Aki and Suvi’s dogs were no less endearing (and much better trained). Prior to our afternoon trip, Pete and I each roamed through their well-kept cages to get even more doggie love. They patiently waited for their food and attention. We took our turns in and out of each cage, and then we started the cycle again.

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We bonded. And ever moreso as they pulled us clear across the cold Finland winterscape – over rigid lakes and through forests covered in a thick white blanket. There was more snow than either Pete or I had seen in a very long time, and they excitedly led us through all of it.

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Lights twinkled on the other end of our final frozen lake as daylight turned to dusk. Aki, Suvi and their talented teams had delivered us to our next hotel.

This return to happy memories from my childhood, and the easy comfort with which we were introduced to Finland could not have been more perfect (especially considering the craziness we still had in store). It had turned out to be a very happy, yet short, stay with a new family.



Many thanks to Routa Travel for this exceptional doggie experience!

Our trip to Finland was courtesy of Visit Finland and Wild Taiga. As always, all opinions are our own.

20 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • First off, I love all the photos! I just wrote about my first experience with dog sledding and it didn’t leave me with such positive feelings. This makes me feel so much better, knowing these dogs are taken care of so well and considered to be part of the family. I’d have a hard time leaving all those cute, furry faces behind.

    • March 20 2013

      Oh, I’m so sorry you had a negative experience your first time out Francesca. Unfortunately, there are those bad guys out there! This one was so positive for us, and we almost came away with a pup or two tucked in our backpack. 🙂 They were so sweet, and so obviously well taken care of.

  • March 16 2013

    OMG Hippu is the cutest thing ever! I would LOVE to go dog sledding some day! 🙂

    • March 20 2013

      C’mon you Canadian girl! Go find a place to do it! 🙂

      • March 21 2013

        Have YOU ever done it in Canada? hahaha I think my aunt has a sleigh…. no huskies though

        • March 22 2013

          I have! Up north where we were from, and then again in Banff!

  • March 17 2013

    AHHHH!!! DOGGIIIIEEEEESSS!!!!!! Stunning!
    Lillie – @WorldLillie recently posted..Unexpected International Flair in Newport, Rhode Island

  • March 17 2013

    You can never go wrong with photos of adorable sled dogs. I don’t even particularly LIKE dogs. But sled dogs? Guh, SO ADORABLE.
    Amanda recently posted..Photo of the Week: Eilean Donan Castle

    • March 20 2013

      They are thee CUTEST dogs out there, I do believe!

  • AHH! We are obsessed with huskies! They are all adorable and look so happy.

    • March 20 2013

      Have you been dog sledding yet? They are the sweetest and happiest dogs when they’re running. I would do this every day if I could!

  • March 18 2013

    The photos are great…and I’m not even an animal person. But – dog sledding has been on my wish list for some time now! Thanks for making that even more prominent now!

  • Emily in Chile
    March 17 2013

    That picture of Pete and Hilda is hilarious. I love these cuties!

    • March 20 2013

      She was so cute. Wherever there was cheese…Hilda was there!

  • March 18 2013

    I would love to do this! I went dog sledding in Jamaica and really enjoyed that, but now I need to do it on snow!

  • March 28 2013

    Great photos! I want to go back and dog sled again – it was so awesome, and I want a photographic do-over! I spent the day with a group out of Otter Lake (near Ottawa) and I agree – there are some pretty great dogs out there. You could see the man who ran the business loved his dogs too – they were like his kids. And the dogs were so excited they were practically levitating! So much fun! So many great memories.

  • Ali
    April 4 2013

    OMG they’re so cute! I so want to go dogsledding someday!

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