If you ever wonder why anyone would sacrifice what many people would call a normal life to race and train sled dogs, close your eyes and imagine the unadulterated joy of a team yelling to go; their breath hanging in the cold morning air.
Siberians are hard wired to run and to pull and to be part of a team. It satisfies a basic yearning in them and gives us a taste of a life less ordinary, a million miles away from work, bills and the daily grind.
Sled dog racing in the UK is primarily on dry land. In true British style, the first Husky owners over here watched the sport in colder parts of the world and tweaked, shaped and moulded into something that fit the tiny British landscape, the unreliable British winter and the British character with its love of the amateur, in the best possible sense of the word - doing something purely out of passion.
You'll never win big prizes here - a sack of dog food if you're lucky - but you spend magical times with your best friends in beautiful places that are about as wild as you can get in the UK.
We race as many weekends as we can through the winter months. Really, winter doesn't last long enough. Coupled with training at Sherwood Forest to make sure the dogs are fit and ready to hit the race trail, this means we run four or five times a week. Fitting this into everyday life and around work can be expensive and exhausting but sharing your dogs' sheer exhilaration at doing what they live for is priceless and worth the lost sleep.
Training gives us a chance to mix our teams up a bit and get their fuzzy brains working. It's important for teaching discipline and control. After all, speed is nothing if you're not in control of your team. Training means you come across lots of potential distractions which good lead dogs will barely even notice, enabling you to pass people walking dogs on the trail without a second glance. It makes the whole experience safer and more enjoyable for everyone.
Mystic Charoite dogs are a force to be reckoned with on the race trail with countless wins and top three places over the years. We compete with all the main UK race organisations. Since 2010, our teams have won 11 medals (including five golds) in the British Siberian Husky Racing Association annual championship series. They have been first or second in different classes at the biggest sled dog event in the UK (the Siberian Husky Club of GB Aviemore Race) 9 times. We also compete in open racing organisations where the dogs have put in some very competitive performances against non nordic racing dogs such as Scandinavian hounds and Alaskan huskies. The guys have helped Kev become Scottish national champion twice (in 6 and 3 dog) and British (British Sled Dog Sports Federation) national champion three times (twice in 6 dog and most recently in 8 dog).
They certainly don't hang about!