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Senior Correspondent

With the unusually mild weather for the time of the year, it was uncertain if our planned husky dog sled ride would get off the ground. As luck would have it, the day was picture perfect — bright, sunny, cool weather — ideal for Siberian husky dogs to run. Most people have never experienced this sort of adventure, so we weren't quite sure what to expect. The jury was still out on our assessment. In the final analysis, it proved to be the thrill of a lifetime. You almost felt that you were in the Alaskan wilderness. Picture in your mind, ten magnificent Siberian husky dogs, anxious to please you with their power, might and majesty as they wind their way through the trails in the forest with an air of excitement. Regardless of where one comes from, Barking Brook Sled Dog Adventures can take you somewhere you haven't been yet — which puts you on a fresh trail behind a team of gorgeous sled dogs. We opted to take The Lead Dog Tour, a gorgeous dog sled tour into the deep woods, a combined three-hour total experience, including introduction to the team, sled and equipment. It proved to be a fantastic getaway.

Whatleigh, our musher, anxiously awaited our arrival with her ten Siberian huskies ready to do what comes naturally for these warriors: Run! It's their passion!

About Whatleigh, Sled Dog Musher

Whatleigh Torsey, owner of Barking Brook Sled Dog Adventures, has been mushing for over 11 years. She recently converted her racing team into dog sled tour teams. The dogs love the new challenge, with the added fun of having kids and people of all ages to pet and appreciate them. Whatleigh started the kennel with the purchase of her current home on 11 acres in 1999. The first few dogs, just puppies then, are still with her. Additional adult dogs were added, adopted from other kennels. Pretty soon the team took shape and those first winters of running four dog teams were a dream come true.

Soon she was hooked, and more dogs were purchased, a few litters bred and the kennel grew to what it is today. As of the winter of 2011/2012, Barking Brooks has 25 dogs. Twenty are in harness, five are retired.

While racing has always been a highlight and goal of every season, Whatleigh really lived for the long and adventurous training days that built the team. Fall always started out with small teamwork and building back the foundations of the relationships that make a team click. Later, the teams were put together and sled runners flew through old and new terrain. Whatleigh and the team have explored all over northern New Hampshire, the White Mountains and the lakes region of New Hampshire. The dog sledding season is about three months of dry land and if they are lucky, three months of snow. "I have been through several dry land training "rigs" and have finally acquired the best: the Fritz Dyck cart made in Germany," Whatleigh said. "For larger teams, I use an ATV."

She grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., and lived in a typical brownstone two-family house. She never had any pets, except when she was very small and lived in Thailand. Later on in life, Whatleigh went on to college in Vermont. She took up residence in Boston for ten years and finally moved up to New Hampshire to realize her lifelong dream: to have her own dog sled team. Terry, her husband, and Emma-Lizzie, their young daughter, are the loves of her life — followed by her 25 husky dogs, three of whom live in the house with them. "Once my dogs retire, I keep them and do not place them into recreational homes when they are past their prime," she says. "I enjoy them as they get older. They have a lot to offer still, and I don't part with them as they are likened to family members. I treasure each one of them."

Her philosophy? "We love our dogs for life. They all get turns in the house. What's better than a sweet snow dog to cuddle with? We are a family-owned kennel with big hearted dogs! I am lucky to be married to a great guy who pitches in on the big things. Terry builds the kennels I need, builds roofs over them, clears local trails, takes care of the dog truck, clears new parking areas, builds new play areas — whatever needs to be done."

Dog sled rides on a special rolling cart are available until the snow falls. It is especially beautiful to take in during the fall foliage season.

Once the snow falls, Barking Brook offers dog sled tours near Waterville Valley and Loon Mountain in New Hampshire.

For detailed information on Barking Brook Sled Dog Adventures, call 603-968-MUSH or visit their website at www.barking-brook.com.

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