What do you do with an injured half-coyote puppy in the wilderness? If you’re fly fishing guide Larry Roxby, who stumbled upon little Gypsy 18 years ago, you take her to the vet and then home, then become a musher—that is, take up the sport of dogsled racing.
Roxby, along with Gypsy’s progeny, is currently North American dryland racing champions, but Roxby’s Cle Elum-based ranch, Northwest Dogsled Adventures, is the only team in the state to open the dogsled experience to newbies. December through April, the 13-foot sled carries two or three passengers through the snows around Leavenworth, with two steering stations for active participation. Mid-run marriage proposals are so common Roxby knows all the choice scenic spots on the route.
“As soon as the dogs figure out there are passengers present, they all start screaming because they want to go,” he says. “They love pulling.” The team of 12 can speed up to 20 miles per hour, but they also know how to chill. Post-run the dogs eat bowls of warm reindeer soup and roll over for tummy rubs, sometimes joined by Roxby’s cuddly half-wolf hybrids. The musher screens movies for the dogs while they relax in his trailer, noting that their favorites are Alaskan reality shows—“Ones where they show baby caribou,” he says—and, of course, Disney flick Snow Dogs.