North Hope Sled Dog Center

Sled Dogs Helping Children

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North Hope Sled Dog Center – evolved from the North Hope Sled Dog Kennel which was initially founded on the basis of the childrens orphanage at St.Nicholas parish of the Russian Orthodox Church. The orphange was co-founded in 2004 by Father Superior Bartholomeo and a nun and local Sunday school teacher Mother Paraskeva. The primary mission of the orphange was social and psychological rehabilitation of orphan children.

From the very beginning, the 6-year experience of helping the orphan boys via an extended program of working with sled dogs delivered wonderful results. The boys took care of the dogs, raised puppies, trained dog teams, participated in dog shows and sled dog events. Parallel with that they learned to love and be loved, to exist and work as a team whilst understanding the meaning of true friendship. They learned about responsibility, gained self-esteeme and commitment. Further more they attended regular church services, worked as altar boys, went to Sunday school, traveled on pilgrim trips and were brought up in an orthodox environment.

After all the boys had successfully graduated and the results had been thoroughly analyzed an idea of further applying the positive experience of helping children by way of communication with sled dogs and wild life and continue helping children in need professionally came up. Thus in 2010 the North Hope Sled Dog Center was founded and the Sled Dogs Helping Children project was started.

Parallel with that the center helped to create jobs for those of our graduates who would like to come back and work here professionally. Thus, three of our boys work here as kennel managers and guides permanently now, another one is a professional dog-trainer and is in charge of teaching obedience to our dogs to make working with people safe and effective, two other boys are studying in the university to become a psychologist and a vet and come to the center to help with certain programs and monitor the dogs of the kennel. So, the initial idea of the orphanage has developed and grown into a more complex concept.

Northern sled dogs have always been known not only for their outstanding athletic abilities but also for their good nature, love and loyalty to human beings, especially kids. All the activities of the center are based on the contact of a human with a northern sled dog against the background of the beautiful God’s world. Main programs offered are children-oriented and children are the heart of the center’s work and the reason of its existence.

North Hope Sled Dog Center is situated in a picturesque and ecologically clean forest region in the north-east of Kostroma region, Russia. It is located on the highest point of the Neya area, surrounded by softwood forests and taiga rivers with beaver dams, amazing peat lakes and cranberry bogs. Our region is unique in the extent of virginity of its nature, wealthiness of flora and fauna and the way its primeval natural landscape has been preserved and this creates infinite possibilities for healthy leisure activities, psychological release, rehabilitation, therapeutic and developing programs. Sleeping on the mattresses filled with hay smelling of flower meadows and fields, picking berries and mushrooms, swimming in the clear water of the peat lakes and rivers, walking barefoot in the dew-wet grass, drinking fresh milk from our farm, eating brown bread and golden honey from our apiary and of course, communication with wonderful sled dogs – all this helps children and their parents feel harmony with nature, and self-improve through love and care for the God’s earth.

An Indian proverb says: “We don’t inherit the earth of our ancestors – we take it away from our children”. Thus the main objective of the work of the North Hope Sled Dog Center is to show the beauty of nature to our children and teach to care for it, strengthen the lost connection with it and show myriads of wonders that can be worked together.

The patron saint of our center is a spiritual enlighter of the North St. Innokentiy of Irkutsk.