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Callisto 560Approximately 200 people came to MacGregor Point Provincial Park on Family Day Monday to learn about dog sledding and meet some of the local Siberian huskies involved in the sport, such as Callisto.

Hub Staff

Approximately 200 people headed to MacGregor Point Provincial Park on Family Day Monday, February 19 to learn and ask questions about dogsledding; the sport, the equipment, and the dogs used.

Saugeen Shores musher Lisa DeGennaro, who organizes the annual MacGregor Point Dryland Sled Dog Derby, was on hand with her Siberian huskies. “People are often surprised when they see a Siberian husky, how tiny they are,” she said. “People tend to think of sled dogs being big, massive dogs and that’s not necessarily true.”

DeGennaro said that there were a lot of misconceptions about Siberian huskies as well as sledding in general. “Some people think that Siberians are not friendly dogs, that’s not true,” she said, explaining that originating in Siberia the dogs lived in packs and in tribal villages, staying with women and children while men went out hunting. “So they had to be friendly dogs. All my dogs are very, very friendly, none oof them are aggressive, none of them bite,” she said, adding that they are very talkative.

Another common misconception, DeGennaro explained, is that sleddog sports, mushing and training the dogs is cruel. “They see these dogs and they're pulling sleds, they're pulling equipment... this is what they're bred to do, they're bred to pull, they love to run,” she said. “As a musher if you have a dog that doesn’t want to run, they don't want to pull, then you do what's best for that dog, you find a pet home for that dog or you do what you have to do to make that dog happy. There's no point in having a dog that doesn't want to run on your team,” she said.

DeGennaro said that events like the one at MacGregor Park were important for people learn more about the sport. “It's important for people to come out and see the dogs and come and see that they're not abused, they're not sad and they're well taken care of.”

MacGregor Point Provincial Park National Heritage Education Leader Kathleen Houlahan said that DeGennaro uses the trails at MacGregor to train. “It's really cool to have so many people in our community who do dogsled racing and neat that Lisa uses the trails to train with her dogs,” she said. “Another cool use of MacGregor,” she added.

Houlahan said that this year’s Family Day weekend at MacGregor Park had been extremely successful, including their Survivor Challenge February 17 and the Wild Ontario Birds of Prey show February 18. “At the live birds of prey show we had 170 people in the Visitors’ Centre plus people trying to peek in the windows to see, so that’s awesome,” said Houlahan.

LisaSaugeen Shores musher Lisa DeGennaro explained about the sleds used in the sport of dogsledding.

CarrickTwo year old Carrick, a Port Elgin local, was full of smiles as he petted the sleddogs.

SadieSeven year old Sadie holds onto one of the Siberian huskies as it stands on two legs to greet her.

MacGregor StaffSome dogs were more interested in the photographer than in posing with people for a picture.

ChristineHaving two huskies of her own, Christine Thomson of Wolesly was in her element as she embraced the dogs.