Dogs running at full speed and a driver leading the team called “musher“. This has been Anthony’s daily life for 5 years, a Hénuier. His goal: to win the world championships. And to achieve any goal, you need rigor. So it all starts with training in the forest; four five times a week between September and March, the coldest time of year. “They are able to run 30 to 35 kilometres, non-stop, at an average speed of between 15 and 20 km/h depending on the ground. Naturally, the speed on the ground will not be the same as on snow.”
Anthony is part of the Belgian national team. On the 300′musher‘ in Belgium, he is one of the few to hold mid-distance competitions. From 200 to 300 km over several days. Like in Lekkarod, a race in the heart of the Alps. The sports preparation is intense but it is above all a passion. “Musher is above all a way of life. Beyond the passion for nature and for dogs. It’s a daily sharing.”
They are abused dogs.
Anthony has another profession: laboratory technologist because the discipline is difficult to practice in Belgium and it is not recognized as a sport in its own right. The weather conditions are unfavorable. “We have to make up for whatever problem we have. We don’t have any height difference in Belgium. We end up in competitions in the mountains, we have to compensate for that. We have to use slightly heavier equipment to be able to work our dogs and build them up to compensate for this effort.”
Dogs abandoned in shelters
Anthony doesn’t just take care of 6 dogs. At home, there are 13 in total. Dogs abandoned and left in shelters: “These are abused dogs. I have room at home so I take them.” Husky, a breed of dog that for him is not like the others. “These are specific dogs for sport and for work in general. The idea of taking dogs and putting them in an apartment to say that we are going to take them out 10 or 15 minutes a day. It is not sufficient. We then end up with abandonments because the dog will destroy or be aggressive.”
Over the years, Anthony has been able to tame them, educate them, but also create an environment that allows them to let off steam. “They are part of my family. They take up my time as much as my daughter and my partner. It is learned over time and simply walks.”
It takes two hours a day to take care of it in addition to the hours of training. The financial investment is substantial: up to 15,000 euros per year. Next November, the most athletic will take part in new competitions: the “land” world championships in Belgium and the international sled dog race next winter.