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The sled dogs' ears are perked up while they wait for the command to move forward. (SARA YOUNG-KNOX PHOTO)

Sled dogs impress school vacation crowd

LINCOLN - NINE-year-old Emma Wall of Marshfield, Mass., and Neha Modak, 8, of Boston had a real treat during their school vacation on Wednesday.

The two young ladies took a dog sled ride up and through the woods near the base of Loon Mountain.

"They were running real fast and they didn't get tired. I thought that was really cool," Emma said afterward.

Her sled mate Neha was equally impressed with the dogs' stamina, saying that the ride was a lot of fun. "I like seeing all the dogs," she added.

Their musher for the trip, Lidia Dale-Mesaros, owner of Valley Snow Dogz in Campton, was taken with the girls. "I'm going to take these two home," she joked to Chrissy Irish, seasonal program manager at Loon Mountain. She said the girls showed great interest in the dogs and asked intelligent questions.

"They're going to come back as helpers," she said as Emma and Neha nodded in agreement.

It was the second day that the dog teams were taking children on a 3.2 mile loop on the cross-country ski trails at Loon. The children are participants in the winter seasonal program at Loon, and have done more than their usual skiing this vacation week.

"The kids are from 7 to 17 and are here for a nine-day stretch, so we try to offer different activities during the week," she said. Irish said about 100 children, up to the age of 10, would be going on the sled rides between the two days. The program runs for nine weekends during the winter season.

While they waited for the next cohort of children to arrive, Richard Dale-Mesaros, Lidia's husband/helper, said the dogs are calm and quiet, but work like hell. The prime ages for the dogs to race, he said, are 3 to 7 years old. On Wednesday, one of their veteran dogs, Yahboo, who is 11 years old, was out with the teams, looking - and acting - barely a day over 8.

Lidia Dale-Mesaros competes in dog sled races, something which as a girl growing up in Manchester, England, she could only dream about. She met her husband 26 years ago, and was smitten after learning the good-looking gentlemen also lived with a family in Vermont who had sled dogs.

Snow Dogz has been offering dog sled excursions for a couple of years, and Richard Dale-Mesaros said they are honored to be able to sled across Squam Lake. They offer dog sled excursions with the help of their traditional sled dogs and the Siberian huskies owned by their mushers, sisters/twins Kim and Kelly Berg of Kelim Siberians Huskies in Ashland. The Berg twins breed and race huskies, and have been raising huskies for 20 years. They started young - they're 32 now - and also race.

The twins were on hand at Loon, each driving a team, as was their father, Bruce Berg.

Between jaunts the dogs were pretty quiet, and appreciated a pat or two while they waited for the next group of children, but as soon as they were hitched back up to the sleds, they snapped to attention, eager to be back on the trail.

They clearly love to run.


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