OPINION: I love dogs and I race them. You can do both.

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The topic of animals in sport is a heated one. But Scott Bennetts thinks his sport should be loved by animal lovers.

Whenever I tell people that I’m the president of the Northern Victoria Dog Sledding Club, I get one of two looks.

One eyebrow raised: “Oh really? I didn’t know that was even a sport in Australia. Cool.”

or

Both eyebrows raised: “I don’t think animals belong in sport.”

The second group are a minority, and they’re a passionate lot. They love animals. But here’s the thing – so do I. I haven’t met anyone in the sledding community who doesn’t.

I love dogs, and dogs love racing. That’s the honest truth.

When it comes to comparing dog sledding to other kinds of animal racing, there are more differences than similarities. But it all boils down to one thing – money. There’s no money in dog sledding.

Gambling can put people in some pretty desperate situations. And when people get desperate, they do despicable things.

Gambling can put people in some pretty desperate situations. And when people get desperate, they do despicable things.

What's more, dog sledding is not a livelihood for any of us. We don’t make money, we spend it! Vet bills, premium grade dog food, a racing rig… these things add up.

On race weekends, we are up before the sun, hauling a custom-built camper van half way around the country. We’ll grab food at whatever highway truck stop is open – you can bet the dogs will eat better than we do.

So what’s it all for?

A sash. Maybe a trophy. Maybe a bit of prize money, but nothing over $250.

Needless to say, it’s not about the money. It’s about leaving the day-to-day stress of life behind and getting out into the fresh air to form a bond with man's best friend. It’s the adrenaline rush and the stories we tell each other around the camp fire that night. 

You can all us crazy, but don’t say we would ever do anything that isn’t for the love of our dogs. 

 

Dog sled clubs can be found all around Australia. If you’re keen to give it a go there are beginner bootcamps and try out days, and there are always people willing to share what they know and lend their gear – all you need is a dog! Find out more at Australian Sleddog Sports Association.

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