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Lemont's Green Valley Dog Drivers grows from club to business

Published: Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 9:35 a.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 9:36 a.m. CDT
(Lorae Mundt)
Green Valley Dog Drivers musher, Peyton Withrow, 14, of Machesney Park, leads a sled dog demonstration at Brookfield Zoo on Sunday, February 9th. Lorae Mundt for Shaw Media
(Lorae Mundt)
Green Valley Dog Drivers musher, Robert Soto, of Chicago, snow boards with Siberian Huskies, Igor and Flurry during a demonstration at Brookfield Zoo on Sunday, February 9th. Lorae Mundt for Shaw Media
(Lorae Mundt)
Annette McNeely, President of Green Valley Dog Drivers, enjoys a sled ride with her grandaughter during the sled dog demonstrations at Brookfield Zoo on Sunday, February 9th. Lorae Mundt for Shaw Media

LEMONT – What started as a hobby for Lemont resident Annette McNeely became the Green Valley Dog Drivers in 2005, a club dedicated to dog sports.

With increased interest in the group’s services, the Green Valley Dog Drivers has outgrown its identity as a club and was incorporated as a business this year.

McNeely, the president of the business and a ranger with the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, said that with its new status, the group will be able to offer rides because they can insure the dogs.

“We get a lot of requests,” she said. “A lot of people don’t know that (dog sledding) exists in this area.”

She said Green Valley has already been giving dog sledding demonstrations, such as an event Feb. 9 at Brookfield Zoo.

The business also plans to sell dog driving equipment.

“Our idea is to make everything available to people who would need to start out in a dog sport,” she said.

Though sledding is the most popular activity, McNeely said dog driving can be done year-round.

There is skateboarding, bikejoring, skijoring and canicross. Green Valley also has dogs pull three-wheel carts and ATVs without an engine.

“Anything that you can think of that has wheels on it, your dog can pull you on it,” McNeely said.

She said the mission of the business is to help families and their dogs work together in a fun, outdoor activity.

The group encourages people to adopt rescue dogs and uses the driving activities to discipline overly energetic dogs.

“Dog sports are a great outlet,” she said. “It gives your dogs a job to do.”

Julia Jagow, a Westmont resident and vice president of Green Valley, has been involved with the business for four years and does dog driving with her 8-year-old daughter.

She said she did not have any Siberian huskies when she first met the group, though her boyfriend owned an older husky.

“Now I own two huskies of my own, so it’s mandatory to run to tire them out,” she said.

Though huskies are the stereotypical sled-pulling dogs, McNeely said Green Valley includes several other breeds.

For instance, McNeely has a chiweenie – a chihuahua-dachshund mix – that participates.

“The only requirement is that your dog has the energy to want to go and likes to bond with you,” she said.

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