As their colleagues watched Saturday, the amateur mushers hooked up half a dozen howling Siberian huskies to a 6-foot wooden sled along the shoreline of the Hopkinton State Park reservoir in Hopkinton, Mass.

As their colleagues watched Saturday, the amateur mushers hooked up half a dozen howling Siberian huskies to a 6-foot wooden sled along the shoreline of the Hopkinton State Park reservoir.


Once the canines were attached to their leads, one person sat in the sled's front basket while another stood in the back, a foot on each runner. With some encouragement, the huskies quickly sprang forward and the mushers shot through a narrow tree-lined path to much cheering.


Seconds later, the sled crashed to one side, the victim of a sharp turn and an oblivious golden retriever owner.


Thus marked the sledding debut of the Boston Snow Dogs.


"This is all trial and error," explained Dorchester's Tania Nieves, the co-organizer of the Greater Boston club, formally known as the Boston Snow Dogs Playgroup and Amateur Team and found at www.meetup.com/bostonsnowdogs.


Comprising fans of Siberian huskies and other dogs of the north, the club usually meets at Peters Park in Boston's South End, where the canines pull members on scooters and bicycles. But at the suggestion of Ashland's Liane Tofani, the club decided to try out the state park in Hopkinton.


Standing in the parking lot in a Siberian husky-emblazoned fleece, Tofani said she joined the club a year ago after her first purchase of the breed.


"Love at first sight," she said of her visit to the breeder. "They're very energetic a lot of fun."


Thanks to Springfield's Rhonda Spaulding, the club also had a new test ride for the day: a 6-foot dogsled handcrafted from ash by a New Hampshire musher.


"The dogs basically have full control of you on this," she said, comparing her sled to the easier ride afforded by the scooters.






After crashing at the curve, Spaulding was twice dragged along the ground behind the sled while taking a run around the state park. However, she emerged unscathed as the dog team raced back to the parking lot to cheers of "Yeah huskies!"


Her passenger, former Natick resident Will Swan, assessed the journey. "It was awesome," he said. "It was insane, though."


The club struggled to switch out a few dogs and get the team lined up again as Swan prepared to take his turn steering the sled.


"This is too funny," said Tofani's mother, Christine Tofani of Ashland.


MetroWest Daily News writer Michael Morton can be reached at mmorton@cnc.com or 508-626-4338.