Dog Days of Winter

To say we are a family of dog lovers is an understatement. We have five dogs, and take pride in them having a fun, healthy, and loving life with us.

Dogs fit perfectly into our running lifestyle, plus we often bikejor and dogsled with them. Our two Alaskan Huskies (Cody and Willy) are retired racing sled dogs, Meela is a gorgeous and rambunctious Siberian, Neeka is a Pointer cross with husky-like instincts for pulling, and, rounding out the pack, is Mali, our loveable blue-tick “Round Hound”. Mali comes complete with blanket-sized floppy ears, sad hound-dog eyes, short (seemingly mismatched) legs, and rotund stature. While her four furry comrades get down to the business of running and pulling, Mali barks enthusiastically until they take off, and then quickly settles down for a sniff, some cuddles, and a snack while they (foolishly!) work themselves into a steamy exertion.

Mali does like to run with us though, and enjoys winter. When we don our snowshoes, she is astute enough to know that running behind us makes the going through deep snow a lot easier. She has even learned to stay far enough back to avoid getting a titanium crampon to the chops.

The only problem is that the snow we kick up tends to settle on top of her head. Early in a run she shakes it off, but by the end of a run she doesn’t take the extra energy, and will routinely collect two inches of snow on top of those floppy ears. Maybe we should look into strapping some snowshoes to the hound this winter, and let her break trail for us!


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About Sara Montgomery and Derrick Spafford

Derrick and Sara are trail runners from Eastern Ontario who discovered that running on snowshoes in the winter months is a great way to enjoy their favorite trails year-round. They competed in their first snowshoe series (The Mad Trapper Series in Low, Quebec) in 2005, each finishing 2nd in their respective divisions. Plans for 2006 are to return to the Mad Trapper, to take in some races in New York and Vermont, and hopefully cap their season with the U.S. Snowshoe Championships in March, as Canadian guests. Derrick runs a company, Spafford Health and Adventure (, which specializes in coaching and event promotion. He is currently planning an annual snowshoe race to be held in the Kingston area, starting this winter.