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Film stardom beckons for Jamaican Dog Sled Team

IN SEPTEMBER this year, a Dogsled team from Jamaica will be featured at the annual Toronto Film Festival, with the premiere of a new movie, 'Sun Dogs'.

‘Sun Dogs', currently in production in Jamaica, is a documentary feature chronicling the struggle and adventure of the dogsled team, which raced at the 2006 United Kingdom Sled Dog Championship in Aviemore, Scotland, held from January 21 to 22. The team was placed 27th out of 40 competitors.

Founder/Chairman of Chukka Caribbean Adventures, Jamaica, Danny Melville is Executive Producer of the Palm Pictures feature film, with Andrea Stewart as Director/Producer.

‘I had been in Edmonton, Canada, taking a look at custom-made dune buggies for a new Chukka Caribbean Adventures tour and spotted an odd-looking dogsled; it turns out the sled was designed for dry-land racing, and I thought what a great idea for Jamaica,’ Mr. Melville said.

‘I ended up in Loch Ness country where I met the sled's owner, champion Scottish dog-sledder Alan Stewart, and watched him give sled dog rides to tourists. I knew right then and there that a dogsled team wouldn't just be a great soft adventure attraction, but would be a wonderful catalyst for 'Brand Jamaica' in the manner of the Bobsled team,’ he added. The Jamaica Dogsled team was born then.

Miss Stewart followed the progress of the team, as Mr. Melville, Mr. Stewart and Chukka Caribbean Adventures' Director of Operations and novice 'musher', Devon Anderson, competed in the championship in Scotland.

The film also followed the progress of Mr. Anderson's assistant 'musher', Oswald Marshall, as he travelled to Minnesota to experience dog sledding in its natural form - on snow.

‘Jamaica's natural beauty and multi-layered cultural texture is a feast for a filmmaker. The story of the Jamaica Dogsled team provides a window into its soul. The team has given the world another reason to rekindle its on-going love affair with this unique island,’ Miss Stewart said.

The 12 'sun dogs' on the team, many of them strays from the Jamaica Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (JSPCA), have been given a new lease on life. The JSPCA works closely with Chukka Caribbean and the team to monitor the dogs.

Dogsled training is currently underway at the Chukka Cove farm in St. Ann, in preparation for the unique tour experience to be offered by Chukka Caribbean Adventures this summer.