Thursday, October 15, 2009

Meet Sled Dog Racer Laura Vinnedge

By Julia Williams

As many of you already know, CANIDAE All Natural Pet Foods has a long history of supporting a wide variety of pet-related charities, organizations and events that help not only our four-legged friends, but the people who love them. One of those that CANIDAE sponsored for 2009 was Laura Vinnedge, a likable young sled dog racer in Fort St. James, Canada.

Laura, now 18, began working with sled dogs at the tender age of 6. She went for a run with a family friend, and her passion for sled dogs was born. Until recently, Laura managed Cottonwood Kennels, a small racing/recreational operation with huskies ranging from yearlings to age 9. With high school behind her, Laura’s thoughts turned to her future. She knew she wanted to attend college, but debated about taking a year off from school to work for a tour company and earn some money for her tuition.

In the end, Laura decided not to take that break from school, but to enroll in the University of Victoria this fall. With this decision came another, much more difficult one – what would she do with her beloved sled dogs? Laura knew it wasn’t fair to the dogs to keep them at her home, where no one could train them. Mushing is a very demanding sport, both physically and mentally, and when in training, Laura’s dogs run 5 days a week for 6 to 40 miles. Thus, she found herself with the sad task of finding a place where her dogs would have the opportunity to do the work they love to do.

Four of Laura’s dogs headed off to a tour business in Revelstoke, Canada; one stayed in town to lead a recreational musher’s team, one returned to his previous home, and three will “retire” and spend their time lazing in the sun and going for leisurely walks. In a letter to CANIDAE thanking them for their support, Laura said she is certain she will be returning to sled dogs in the future, because “they are such wonderful, honest, affectionate animals that it will be impossible to stay away.” But for now, she must bid farewell to the beautiful creatures she dearly loves.

“I am the coach, the trainer, the nutritionist and motivator. But my dogs are the true athletes, and that sled sure won’t be going anywhere very fast without them. Sled dogs possess boundless stores of energy, trust and enthusiasm. I am very lucky to have been able to share my life with these amazing creatures,” Laura said.

As part of their sponsorship of Cottonwood Kennels, CANIDAE supplied Laura and her dogs with their Grain Free Salmon Formula. Laura said all of her dogs love the CANIDAE food, and performed wonderfully on it. Because sled dog racing is such a high-stress, high-demand sport, the dogs need top-notch nutrition to ensure they can perform comfortably and to the best of their ability. After switching to the CANIDAE Grain Free Salmon food, Laura said her dogs had excellent weight, lustrous coats, improved endurance and heart rates, and calm demeanors. “I am confident in recommending this food to other racers as a top performance formula,” she said.

Best of luck to you in your studies, Laura – and in your future sled dog racing endeavors too!

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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