The "Paw-fect" birthday party
September 18, 2009
People often move to Park City to live a dream: ski 100 days a year, open a restaurant, start an arctic hobby.
Neal Bowlen used to travel over 100 days a year for his corporate job. All those hours in an airplane were filled reading about mushing Siberian Huskies. Some men read about the Final Four, Bowlen read about the Iditarod.
Once his wife finished medical school, he began pondering how he could quit his job, become a stay at home dad and start a sled-dog team.
His family has been in Park City eight years now and he has six Alaskan Malamutes. Bowlen thinks he may be the southernmost mushing operation in North America, but so long as he only rides in the early morning and after dark, his 30-degrees-below-loving dogs do just fine in Park City’s summers.
And run in summer they do. Bowlen owns Pawsatch Snow Dogs, a special-event business providing authentic dog-sled rides for birthday parties and corporate retreats. He’ll do two or three rides a week in the warm months, and 10 or more in winter.
He’s got a modified sled that seats six and a wheeled cart made from two old motorcycles that will seat 10 children.
Recommended Stories For You
"I really tailor to children," Bowlen said.
His dogs are gentle and the sled only moves at about six or seven miles per hour. He lets kids pet the dogs and teaches them as much as they want to learn about their breed, steering a sled, commanding the animals and the culture of dog sledding. Parents often follow along on bikes or cross-country skis.
"It’s a unique, one-of-a-kind experience," he said.
In addition to small children and visiting executives, he’s also been on a few "bucket lists" for seniors and taken celebrities around.
His favorite part is still running the dogs.
"The experience is unbelievable – almost spiritual – to watch the harmony that develops between the six dogs, their cadence and pace," he said.
The dogs were born to run and are never happier than when they’re exerting energy, he said.
Rides can be 20 minutes long or 20 miles; he can go around the block or on camping expeditions in the Uintas. Tailoring the experience to each client is essential, he said.
Karen O’Brien’s son went for a ride during his birthday party.
"It was very fun, professional and the dogs are gorgeous. The kids had a complete blast," she said. "It was a fantastic way to spend some time."
Melva Picchietti also used the word "blast" to explain her 7-year-old’s surprise party.
"She couldn’t stop talking about it," she said. "The kids were giggling and shrieking with laughter The kids were so into the moment. Park City kids are hard to impress; they’ve been doing it all. This was really neat."
Anne Peterson called it "delightful." She enjoyed how slow-paced Bowlen was in explaining everything and letting the kids enjoy the experience at her 9-year-old’s party.
"We were all thrilled with the experience," she said. "He has the most beautiful dogs."
Pawsatch Snow Dogs.com