RACING TO WIN: Jade Hetherington in a bikejor event.
RACING TO WIN: Jade Hetherington in a bikejor event. Contributed

Dog-gone run for fun

THE 11 members of the Hetherington family dog sled team all love the cold.

Three of them go by human names - Jade, Clare and Sierah - while the other eight are four-legged and have names such as Topaz, Anika and Makuyi.

The sport, which involves Arctic dogs or any large breed pulling a rider on a scooter or bicycle, is heavily dependent on weather as the dogs cannot work at temperatures above 15C.

Living in Stanthorpe is a bonus as not only does the family get to start training early but Dog Sled Racing Queensland will hold three events in Passchendaele State Forest this month.

Clare was the first into the sport, when she found a husky called Keenai abandoned in a shelter.

A keen horse rider, she loved the connection between animal and human and when she tried out sled racing she discovered "there was nothing like it in the world”.

Husband Jade soon followed, perhaps motivated by the possible 40kmh speeds available on a bike, the fastest form of racing.

"We were instantly hooked, both of us,” Clare said.

Daughter Sierah - who got her own husky, Makuyi, as a birthday present - now does the scooterjor event with one dog.

Clare also competes on a scooter but with two dogs, while Jade rides scooterjor and bikejor with one dog at a time.

As Arctic breeds are notoriously wilful, events operate under strict protocols, covering everything from poo bags torules about passing, designed so that dogs don'tinterfere with each other.

Events cover distances from 1-3km and have to be kept deliberately short so as to get all competitors through before the day warms up too much.