MARQUETTE - It's one thing to expect proper dog etiquette in a populated, downtown area or even a well-traveled suburban street. But why should anyone worry about good canine behavior on a pristine, remote wilderness trail, especially in winter?
Because it's a pristine, remote wilderness trail, and its users probably want to keep it that way.
The Noquemanon Skijor Club is reaching out to fellow dog owners who share the Noquemanon Trail Network to act responsibly while on the trails.
A Bombardier groomer is used to groom a trail on the Noquemanon Trail Network to make it easier for users to navigate the area. (Photo courtesy of the Noquemanon Trail Network)
The NTN is a non-motorized trail organization that grooms and runs cross-country ski trails in Marquette County, from beginner level to more challenging. It operates the Noquemanon Trail, the Forestville loops, Saux Head Trail on Marquette County Road 550 and the Big Bay Pathway.
The NTN also partners with the city of Marquette and the Marquette Board of Light and Power with the Fit Strip and the city of Ishpeming with the Al Quaal trail system.
Skijoring, which originated in Scandinavia and means "ski-driving" in Norwegian, involves a cross-country skier being pulled by a vehicle or animal.
Skijorers are welcome on NTN trails.
"One of our things is we are dog-friendly," said Nicole Dewald, NTN director of operations. "We have dog-specific trails."
Dewald said skijoring is a great way for dogs to get exercise, although she hopes people follow NTN rules involving dogs.
The Noquemanon Skijor Club is asking dog owners to abide by a few rules to ensure a safe and pleasant experience for dog walkers - and other trail users.
Dog owners also must abide by municipal animal control ordinances and city, state and federal park regulations. If a dog is sick or aggressive, they must be left at home to avoid posing a danger to other trail users and their dogs.
(The city of Marquette's animal ordinance, for example, says dogs must be on leashes or in a transport container when not on an owner's premises or in an off-leash area.)
A basic NTN membership is $20 per person and $45 per family. Members then can purchase upgrades such as inclusive year-round use for $145 per person or $330 per family.
With people keeping trails clean and their dogs controlled, it is hoped more users without dogs should be able to share the trails with those who do, which includes skijorers.
Kaylee Place of Harvey, a member of the skijor club, said, "It's a really great partnership when you're walking together with your dog. That's my favorite part of it."
It's also a great way, she said, for owners to be outside with their dogs.
Place, the owner of two golden retrievers, said people don't necessarily need "pulling" dogs such as huskies to enjoy skijoring. They also don't need to be highly skilled.
"What's really great about skijoring is you don't have to be an expert at it," she said.
Skijoring does require dogs to pull a skier, who also has to make his or her way down the trail - not that that's a bad thing.
"It's really fun and it's an excellent workout for both of you," Place said.
For more information on skijoring, like "Noquemanon Skijor Club" on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.