Living the dream with a 7de Laan cookbook and 13 hungry huskies

2016-03-16 11:25
Jean-Pierre Bussio has a dream to be first South African to compete in international dog-sledding races. (Supplied)

Jean-Pierre Bussio has a dream to be first South African to compete in international dog-sledding races. (Supplied)

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Cape Town – It may seem a bit unusual to find a 7de Laan cookbook in a Norwegian home.

Even more peculiar may be the milk tart and koeksisters in the kitchen. Or the imported spices for homemade boerewors and biltong on the countertop.

But when you’re engaged to a South African man, who has a healthy appetite after a day of dog-sledding, it makes a whole lot more sense.

Jean-Pierre Bussio, 27, recently shared his dream with News24 to become the first South African to compete in a number of international dog-sledding races in the 2017 season.

He has been living in Frekhaug in Norway for the past few years with fiancée, Heidi Myrtveit, their 13 Siberian huskies and a boxer.

Their dogs may not indulge in 'Hertzog koekies' [jam tarts], but they do get their fair share of meat and carbs, especially when it's time to perform (up to 30kg of dry food and 100kg of meat during high training).

Met the love of his life

"When I was younger, I had seen mushing in a movie and thought it would be awesome to do," Bussio said in an interview in Cape Town. ”I never imagined I would be doing it!”

Bussio grew up in Clanwilliam and was an "all Afrikaans boytjie".

Athleticism and a love for the outdoors came naturally. In farm school he played hooker in the rugby team and enjoyed water sports. 

It was as a diving instructor in Zanzibar when he met the love of his life, who was there as an exchange student.

"I was wearing my WP [Western Province] jersey when we had dinner," he grinned. With a mischievous gleam in her eyes, Myrtveit said, "I didn't know what that was all about."

At first, his dad thought he was crazy for wanting to dog-sled out in freezing weather.

But their parents had an about-turn after being treated to a trip on the sled. Now, they asked about the races and knew a lot of the dogs by name.

Do what we love

"They just want us to do what we love," said Bussio.

The pair loved their animals and could identify each dog simply by its bark.

As the person who does most of the training and feeding, it was important to Bussio to put the job first and the cuddles a very close second.

Myrtveit offered her support as a handler during races.

"It's very important that you trust each other,"he said, resting his hand gently on hers.

When he felt angry, he often employed a creative use of Afrikaans swear words. "If I get angry, I have to get angry with her because the dogs won’t move if they pick that up," Bussio said.

"And then I just slap you," Myrtveit replied playfully.

With their passion and the right sponsors, their dream to become full-time "mushers" may not be that far off.

Read more on:    norway

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