Matt Wilkowski from Syracuse NY competes with a team of three white Samoyeds and a Finnish Lapphund owned and trained by Diane Geitzenauer from Kingston New Jersey at the Finnish Lapphund Sledding Weekend on Saturday Jan. 26 at Little Redstone Lake. Submitted by Ted Rule.

Finnish Lapphunds race around Little Redstone

By Darren Lum

Published Feb. 12 2019

Lapphund love was on full display with the second annual Ontario Finnish Lapphund Sledding on Jan.26 at Little Redstone Lake

The training event drew 23 participants with their 18 Finnish Lapphunds also known as Lappies including three Samoyed lead dogs (five dogs observing) with their owners. The participants came from around Ontario and a few from the U.S. (Syracuse New York and Kingston New Jersey).

Full-time Little Redstone Lake residents Shirley and Ted Rule hosted the event along with neighbours Karen and Kent Hutchings and Carolyn Trenton.

Ted Rule was happy about the event.

“Although a little chilly at -24 Celsius in the morning it did warm up to a balmy -14 Celsius by afternoon with beautiful blue sky and lots of sun. We groomed a trail on the lake in front of our home with our snow machines the day before and were out on the lake sledding by 11 a.m. on the Saturday … going right through to 5 p.m. with an hour break in the middle for lunch and a few refreshments” he wrote in an email.

The dogs which were organized into two- four- and six-dog teams were receiving a racing experience on a half a mile oval track. They completed various laps.

Rule credited Terri Giffin with organizing the food for the large group.

“These are all show dogs most in fact so ‘keeping the peace’ by organizing who could mix with whom was a challenge but handled expertly by all concerned” he said.

They were four Canadian Kennel Club grand champions four CKC champions and five American Kennel Club champions in the category of conformation including awards for the disciplines such as herding chase discing ratting and agility among others.

“Everything went like clockwork and there were a lot of smiling faces and happy Lappies” he said.

Rule said the Lapphund is a breed that originates from Northern Finland. They are traditionally used for reindeer herding and records of the breed’s existence go back 7000 years. “They are a herding breed of the spitz dog variety weighing 32 to 50 pounds … a wonderful temperament and extremely intelligent. In addition to herding they are also very capable in agility ratting chase discing dock diving and can be trained as support dogs. The breed has a very dense double coat which is waterproof which permits them to be left [outside all the time] in the coldest of climates and the worst of weather conditions. There are only approximately 400 Lappies in Canada and just over 1000 in the USA although they are very quickly becoming popular because of their wonderful temperament intelligence and their loving nature” he said.

Ted and Shirley started the event last year because they wanted to host an event for “our Lappy owner family within striking distance.”

It included 13 lapphund dogs and was held on March 23 on the lake. Peter Cundle sledding manager with Haliburton Forest acted as outfitter providing one staff member and equipment such as a sled and a couple of their lead dogs.

This year’s event was organized without the assistance by Winterdance and Cundle because it’s their busiest time of year. Organizers chose to move the event to the end of January to take advantage  of favourable winter conditions. Assisting with outfitting for the Samoyed sleddogs was Diane Geitzenauer an experienced dogsledder who assisted Winterdance's Hank DeBruin and his team in the Yukon Quest in 2011.

All of the competitors are members of the Finnish Lapphund Club of Canada.