Push Me Pull You

The sight of a dog pulling a cart is so unusual these days that we tend to treat it as a novelty. The “Newfoundland Dog Pull Day at Dull’s Tree Farm” is a huge Christmas season event in which Newfs are ‘on loan” from the South Central Newfoundland Club, and to the delight of patrons, these dogs pull Christmas trees on a cart, sled, or tarp.

Cart dogs are nothing new. Dogs have been pulling carts for centuries. They pulled chariots in ancient Rome, pulled small field guns during WWI, pulled stretchers on which wounded soldiers lay for the Soviet Army in WWII, and in subsequent years, served as tiny draft horses.  By the 18th century in England, it’s estimated that over 20,000 cart dogs were in service, many of them used by bakers.  By 1840, cart dogs were outlawed in London, and the rest of the country followed suit in 1855.  This ban is still the law in Britain, and as far as we know, anyone using a dog to pull so much as a sled is breaking the law. Any person or dog wanting to enjoy “mushing” practice has to do it on private land.

As dog enthusiasts, we admire balance in our dogs, and it follows that we should seek balance in all things. There is little doubt in our minds that dogs were overused, abused, and mistreated during the heyday of cart dogs, and a ban was likely a good thing at the time. With time, however, we become enlightened, and overreaction often throws balance out of whack. Sled dog breeds love to pull. Breeds like News and Berners and Swissies love to pull. With moderation, care, and (here’s that word again), balance, carting is not a bad thing. If your dog has enjoyed “carting,” share their picture below?

Image:A photochrom of two peddlers selling milk from a dogcart near Brussels, Belgium in the late 19th century. Shared from Wikicommons under public domain in the United States & published before January 1, 1923.

4 thoughts on “Push Me Pull You”

  1. ALL of my Rottweilers have carted. Vida, also participated in weight pull in the past

  2. Castle, 3 1/2 year old Swissy loves to pull his cart…especially at the farmers market where people stop to pet him and vendors give him green beans and strawberries!

    • Awwwwww, Liz, Castle is WONDERFUL. If you’re ever so inclined, we’d be delighted to show pictures of Castle at the farmer’s market getting his beans and berries!

  3. My friend’s Beardie practicing with her cart! She was kind of a dud at herding – apparently this is more up her alley!!

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