Sunday, February 5, 2017

Canadian Challenge: Steven Laviolette

Steven will be making his way across Canada from Ste Lucie de Laurentides, Quebec with his partner Melissa and 12 Siberian Huskies from his kennel, Tuuluuwak Sled Dogs.

When I asked how long he has been involved in dog sledding, this 46 year old replied, 47 years.  I'm not sure he was actually born on the runners, but he was most definitely born to run dogs.
His grandfather used strays to build up his team of dogs... Not for racing, but out of necessity as they could not afford horses. The dogs were used as their main mode of transportation to take them to church, shopping, run his trap lines and haul wood.
Stevens dad continued to raise dogs but ran them more out of a hobby than a need. 
When Steven grew up and moved out he knew he too wanted to run dogs, but wasn't content to do so as a hobby.  By starting up a touring business he found a way to run his dogs full time and still support his family.
It is not unusual for him to hook up his team and leave for impromptu trips that could last a few hours to many days.
He says he loves the freedom to go any distance at any time.

I asked him if he had a dog that stood out, and he was quick to talk about a dog named Kinu.  He is grandson to a favorite dog who has since passed on.  It's been 10 years and up until now he had yet to meet another dog like her. 
He told me about the time he and a friend had gone off on a quick run that could have turned deadly when they were caught in a blizzard without any provisions, including a headlamp.   Darkness fell and he was unsure where to go as the trail had all but blown in.  Deciding to put this yearling in lead was a good choice as it was he who got them all home without any trouble.  Kinu, he says, is pure magic and has his heart and soul.

Steven admitted to me that racing dogs was never the direction he intended to go.  In fact he discovered a challenge in how he will camp at the race.  He is used to packing up a sled full of gear that would include a large cook stove and tent, and now he is learning how to race.

So what got him into racing?

His oldest daughter, Laquasha was the driving force for this idea and Dad supported her in training, working along side of her.   Laquasha recently graduated school and has at the moment head out into the world to do some traveling,  leaving Dad to race the dogs.  
You could say that Dad is following in his daughters footsteps.

 Although racing was never in his plans he is looking at using the Canadian Challenge as a qualifier since he now dreams of running the Yukon Quest one day.      He would love to meet and run along side with those that he has read about and other like minded mushers.

"It's like coming home when you are with others who share the same passion."

Photo Credit: Stevens Facebook page

1 comment:

Terri Decker said...

Love this man and his ethics.