Dogsledding in Svalbard

Dog Sledding in Longyearbyen — Without the Snow?

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After a very long trip from San Francisco to Chicago to Sweden to Norway, I finally arrived in Oslo, where I spent the entire day sleeping off the jet lag before catching a Scandinavian Airlines flight way up to the archipelago of Svalbard in the Arctic Circle the next morning. Surprisingly, it was a big plane, with six seats all the way across, and we landed in an arctic desert—right before going dog sledding in Longyearbyen.

We were to board Hurtigruten’s expedition cruise the following evening, but first there was more than 24 hours to kill in Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen’s biggest of four inhabited towns (population: 2,100). So we did what any tourists in the Arctic would do and we went to meet the locals!

Dog-Sledding in Longyearbyen, Svalbard

If you’re confused about how we could go dog-sledding in Longyearbyen with no snow, you’re not the only one: I wondered the same. As it turns out, the dogs have to stay in shape year round, so their trainers exercise them on sleds with wheels.

Dog-Sledding in Longyearbyen, Svalbard

So we ventured out into the “desert” to where the dogs were housed and got ready to go for a spin.

Dog-Sledding in Longyearbyen, Svalbard

But first, we had to “suit up!” in these fine marshmallow suits to guard against the chill.

Dog-Sledding in Longyearbyen, Svalbard

I wish they’d given me something like our driver’s get-up instead. Cozy, right?

Dog-Sledding in Longyearbyen, Svalbard

And then, we were off! Dog-sledding through the barren desert.

Dog-Sledding in Longyearbyen, Svalbard

Let me tell you: Despite no snow, those dogs run fast. Routinely, we’d have to stop and give them water from the stream, so they wouldn’t dehydrate.

Dog-Sledding in Longyearbyen, Svalbard

My favorite part by far, though, wasn’t the ride at all, but when we got the chance to climb in the pen with all the babies.

Dog-Sledding in Longyearbyen, Svalbard

I mean, would you just look at that face? How can you not want to pick him up and give him a big squeeze?

Dog-Sledding in Longyearbyen, Svalbard

Pure bliss for a dog lover like me—so much so, I didn’t even mind the lingering stench of puppy breath on my cheek.

Dog-Sledding in Longyearbyen, Svalbard

It took all I had to not sneak one home with me in my carry-on.

Dog-Sledding in Longyearbyen, Svalbard

If you’ve been dog sledding in the snow, perhaps you won’t find this activity nearly as entertaining as I did. However, Longyearbyen doesn’t exactly have much of a social scene, so it’s a great way to kill some time—and energy—before being sea-bound for the next five days.

For more dispatches from Svalbard, go here:

  • August 24, 2009
    Sarah Jackson

    Weird! Just reading an article in the NY times travel section all about Oslo. Wasn’t completely sold, but that cute pup’ums definitely gets Oslo some extra points in my book:-)


  • August 24, 2009
    May @ Anne and May

    Dogsledding is on my list of must-dos. It just looks so fun. Also that picture of the puppy kissing your cheek just broke my heart. Adorable!

  • August 24, 2009

    LOOK AT THE PUPS! Aw. My heart just exploded. Made kind of a mess, actually.

    And, yes, must admit some surprise. I imagined the Arctic Circle would be … snowier.

  • August 24, 2009

    That looks like a blast!

  • August 24, 2009

    Wow, what a great adventure. Love the video. I can see why you’d want to take one of those adorable pups. I think you let them out in the hopes one would follow you home. Nice to see some of your most recent journey.

  • August 24, 2009
    Mary R

    funny…I just posted about dog sled riding in Alaska myself… those dogs are so amazing. I was surprised how the “moosher” hardly has to lift his or her voice to direct the dogs since they have such a keen sense of hearing. And the puppies are certainly so cute!

  • August 24, 2009

    Look at those beautiful blue eyes on those little puppies! What a cool adventure.

  • August 24, 2009

    Is there anything you haven’t done??

  • August 24, 2009

    Ohh Kristin, I just love your blog so much. I never know what I’m going to get to read about.

  • August 24, 2009

    Aww, all that puppy love is just so cute, and a double thanks to those pups as they stopped me singing the title song in my head(No thanks to you there, missy!:D).

  • August 24, 2009

    The puppies eyes are the same color as yours when the sun blazes directly into them.

  • August 25, 2009
    Amy @ The Q Family

    Oh.. How cute! Is that puppy has one brown eye and one blue eye? I love your picture with the puppy. So beautiful both you and him. 🙂 It looks like a fun activity snow or not.

  • August 25, 2009

    I love you for sharing this experience and great pictures with us.
    But I hate you for getting that fucking song stuck in my head.

  • August 25, 2009

    Cute pictures! I did the dogsledding in Iceland, on the beach, and I agree that the dogs are the best part. We had a puppy who was in training and he kept trying to like his mom’s face instead of listening to directions. It was too cute.

  • August 25, 2009

    I always imagined dog sledding as a cruel punishment for the pups – but these guys look like they’re having a blast! Thanks for reminding me to never assume! I too am a complete dog lover and would have had a very hard time not packing one of those pups up with me!

  • August 25, 2009
    smartest cousin

    you couldn’t have brought one of those puppies home b/c they would have eaten all your mom’s white rat dawgs.

  • August 26, 2009

    Holy cow! Orlando Bloom was your driver? So cute! Oslo is a cool city from what I hear, and it looks cool! Did you feel like you were living out of a movie or what?

  • August 26, 2009

    I just love the pictures which posted here. very cute to see those pictures.

  • August 26, 2009

    What beautiful dogs! But then that driver… wow. What a looker!

  • August 27, 2009
    Sensibly sassy

    ahhh you are one lucky duck! Those pups are adorable!

  • December 28, 2009
    Beverly McHargue

    I loved your pictures of your adventure. I own a Siberian Husky Kennel in Texas. I happen upon your pictures looking for dog sleds on wheels. I am trying to train my Siberian Huskies to pull a sled with wheels threw our county side. Siberian Huskies are amazing dogs and their blue eyes are so beautiful.

  • January 22, 2010

    I’m so jealous you got to do this! We drove by it on the way to see the polar bear crossing sign, but couldn’t go inside. We must have literally passed ships! My trip started in Longyearbyen on the 1st of August. We had really amazing captains and spotters, it was so foggy so its definitely hard to spot the polar bears, sorry you didn’t get to see any! You’ll just have to go back! We went with National Geographic Lindblad Expeditions and they were amazing at spotting and approaching the animals. I made a post about it a while back-
    At least you got to see Walruses they are really cool to see in the wild! I also love your photos of the camels! I love them too, very cool animals!

  • June 14, 2011

    those dogs are beautiful! i think my favorite part would also be getting to play with them…looks like a blast 🙂

  • March 9, 2013
    Alexa Rae

    One of my favorite posts! That picture of the puppy licking your cheek. Talk about cute!

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