Enthusiasm is growing for harness dog sports in the Maritimes

Published on February 22, 2017

Louis Parent and Teddy enjoy a run through a wooded trail.

©Daniel Thibault

TRURO, N.S. – Sarah Warford feels six legs are better than two when it comes to running.

Warford is owner and team lead at DogRunnin, a business that coaches people in exercising with their dogs through canicross and bikejoring.

She became involved after adopting a rescue dog from northern Labrador.

“The stereotype of the northern dog pulling a sled was ingrained so I got involved in a recreational mushing group and it snowballed. First and foremost I’m a runner, so it was a natural thing to do canicross and that spiralled into bikejoring and skijoring.”

Canicross is cross-country running with dogs, and began in Europe as a way to train sled dogs during the off-season. The dog is attached by a tether to a person’s waist. In bikejoring harnessed dogs, attached to a towline, help pull a person on a bicycle. In skijoring they are fastened to someone on skis.

RELATED: Canicross comes to Nova Scotia

Warford now has two dogs she exercises with. She takes part in competitive racing with them but stresses anyone who enjoys being active in the outdoors with their dog can enjoy the sport at some level. She has seen dogs as small as miniature poodles and Chihuahua mixes participate in canicross.

Sarah Warford and Pippy enjoy competitive canicross events.

“There’s something really special about the relationship humans and dogs share and there’s something unique and profound about the ability to accomplish something together you couldn’t do on your own,” she said. “These sports are a way of expressing that relationship.”

DogRunnin is based in Halifax, and Warford is also regional director for the Maritime Provinces on the board of the Canadian Association of Harness Dog Sports. She holds classes once a month, across Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to introduce more people and dogs to canicross. Truro sessions begin March 11. For more information visit https://dogrunnin.com/ .