One dog musher is reminding residents to be aware of dog-sledding teams on Yellowknife roads this fall as training season is getting underway.
“Dog mushers have been doing this for quite a number of years, so they know how to take care of themselves,” said Jordee Reid, who trains her dog team with her husband in the Kam Lake area. “But the public should just be aware, maybe take a look on the sides of the road.”
She hopes if everyone is careful, another accident like the one that took place at Deh Cho Boulevard last fall can be avoided. In October last year, a haul truck struck two point dogs as their team was crossing the intersection from Taltheilei Drive.
One of the dogs was killed on impact and a second was injured, musher Alexis Campbell told Yellowknifer at the time.
“That accident was kind of a freak one,” said Reid. “It hadn’t ever happened before and it really kind of shocked the dog mushing community.”
While most mushers go out with another person who acts as the dog team’s spotter and ensures “the coast is clear,” she said, some roads are especially busy.
The corner of Deh Cho Boulevard and Taltheilei Drive is a particularly bad spot, according to Jo Kelly, owner of Qimmiq Kennels.
“It’s a blind corner,” she said. “People are going often faster than they should.”
According to city spokesperson Richard McIntosh, sled crossing signs are posted along Kam Lake Road heading south past Curry Drive as well as on Curry Drive heading east past Kam Lake Road.
“There are no dog-sled crossing signs at the corner of Deh Cho Boulevard and Taltheilei Drive,” he said.
Kelly said the Kam Lake area has become a lot busier over the years and suggested people be aware of who else is using the roads.
“We use public roads and we understand there’s a certain amount of risk involved with that,” she said.
However, she treats her dog team as a vehicle following the same rules of the road as everyone else.
Drivers should view dog teams as vehicles as well, she said.
As the daylight hours get shorter, that’s when road safety becomes more of a concern, added Reid, who usually trains between 4 and 7 p.m.
Once the lakes freeze over for winter, dog sledding teams will move onto Kam Lake and Grace Lake to train, said Reid.
Until then, Kelly hopes people will keep an eye open for dog teams and respect their safety.
“I hope that people appreciate we’re not trying to hog the road or endanger anyone,” she said. “We’re just trying to get trained up for the season and it’s one of the really cool things about Yellowknife.”