Urban mushing | Living the Country Life

Urban mushing

A Georgia woman trains shelter dogs to pull a cart
Photo courtesy of chalosulky.com

If your dogs like to run and you like to ride, Daphne Lewis knows how to please both of you. She trains dogs to pull humans in two-wheeled carts called sulkies. She calls it “urban mushing”.  Daphne got into it years ago in Seattle while trying to find an exercise outlet for her Rottweiler.

Daphne now owns a bamboo research farm in Hawkinsville, Georgia, and finds dog-power is a great way to get work done around her place.

"Like, there’s manure to spread or there’s poles to be cut and hauled. I find that by hitching my dogs to a dump wagon, the kind you buy at Tractor Supply, I can get a lot of work done," says Daphne. "It might be smarter to put it behind a lawn tractor, but this way I get to work my dogs and they get to be useful, and it makes them much more reliable for when I am demonstrating the sulkies."

Daphne also adapts the harnesses and techniques so dogs can pull people in wheelchairs.

She currently has five dogs that have mastered the mushing – a smooth collie, a German shepherd, a pit bull, a bulldog, and a labradoodle. That may sound like an unusual mix for pulling a cart, but Daphne trains animals that aren’t adoptable from rescue groups. She believes they rehabilitate when given a chance to work on a team and pull the sulky.

"Some of the dogs, you hook them up to the sulky and they learn how to pull, and they just calm down and become decent. It’s amazing. In fact, people are laughing at me online in the various groups I’m on and they say you just love having trash around the place, it gives the dogs a job to do," says Daphne. "It’s true, in a way."

Daphne has written books on carting with your dog, holds dog-driving workshops, and works on finding homes for many of the animals.

Learn more about sulkies and the classes being offered

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