by Dorothy Wills-Raftery
Dorothy is a fellow pet blogger whose blog is named FiveSibes™ : Siberian Husky K9 News and Reviews. We found each other through a site called Blogpaws and I asked her to share something with us–this is part one of a two part post about Siberian Huskies. You can check out Part 1 here.
If running a team of Huskies across snowy trails is your dream, Robert Forto, lead musher and dog trainer of the family-run Team Ineka in Willow, Alaska, shares that love. His daughter, Nicole, has trained for and run Team Ineka in the Junior Iditarod for the past two years. “There is something magical about being out on the trail with a dog team,” says Robert. “Many times we have been out on the trail when it is 20 below zero, and the Northern Lights are dancing over our heads. It is totally silent except for this swish, swish, swish sound as they dogs are running in total unison together.”
Robert says while he loves the snow, he believes his Huskies love both snow and dry-land mushing. “I don’t know if they care if it’s snow or dirt, they just love to pull and run! One of our Siberians, Bodhi, came with us to this year’s dry-land events and ran in just about every class: canicross, bikejor, scooter, and cart races. As soon as you get out their harnesses they know it’s time to run, and they all start barking and howling. It is so loud in the kennel you can hardly hear someone talking to you. As soon as you pull the snowhook and are on the trail, everyone quiets down and it’s all business.” When his Huskies are not working out on the trails, they are sharing the couch and snacks with the family!
Karen Hill of Ojibwa Kennels in Michigan, an amateur sled dog team, has competed in sprint and short races with her Siberian Huskies. For folks interested in mushing, Karen emphasizes that, “Harness fit is critical.” Her tips include: “Make sure you know how to measure and fit your dog so his harness won’t rub or cause injuries to joints, etc.” She also points out another very important tip: “Be sure your dog is always hydrated. Sometimes you may need to ‘bait’ your dogs’ water (add broth or some other tasty tidbit) a couple of hours before a run to be sure he drinks enough and stays properly hydrated even in colder weather.” You can check out Ojibwa Kennels’ YouTube videos at www.youtube.com/user/OjibwaKennels.
Other careers for a Siberian Husky include becoming a registered therapy dog; some help soldiers with PTSD, others can be seizure alert dogs, and seeing-eye dogs. They can bring comfort to people in disaster areas, hospitals, nursing homes, etc. One such amazing Sibe is named Bellin (on Facebook as Bellin Bellin). Bellin’s human parents, Steve and Kassia Fontenot, rescued the once battered and emaciated Husky, who was a “community action criminal abuse seizure performed by Animal Control;” he was eventually turned over to the Texas Husky Rescue, where the Fontenots adopted him and trained him.
He is now a registered Pet Partners Therapy Dog, bringing smiles and joy to children and adults in need throughout Texas. Says Kassia, “While visiting the children’s hospital, pediatric office, and the children’s bereavement center are all absolutely fantastic, our most special place is The Children’s Shelter of San Antonio. Watching Bellin work with abused and neglected children is something special to behold after suffering the abuse he had. Seeing the abused dog bonding with the abused children provides a full circle of healing. It’s an amazing moment when the bond is formed between a child and Bellin.”
And what about Siberian Huskies that have special needs, are elderly, or sick? Animal Town Sanctuary a 10-acre spread located just outside of wine country in Temecula, California, is a permanent home to rescued special needs and senior Siberian Huskies (and chickens and desert tortoises). Each type of animal lives in its own “species friendly” secure yards all year round, explains Travis Poper, who founded Animal Town in 2007 after losing his own epileptic Husky.
“Having been touched by the life of this Husky, we felt the need to make good use of the 10 acres we were living on, and do our part to help out not only our favorite breed, but the less fortunate of our favorite breed; the ‘special Ones.’” Travis explains how, “All of the Huskies at Animal Town live together peacefully in a 2,000 square foot ‘dog house’ and are free to roam together in a large community yard with grass pasture and plenty of fruit and shade trees to keep cool. There are no cages at Animal Town, and we also have an organic garden yard, where we grow food…that we mix in for some of our Huskies with special dietary needs.”
At Animal Town, “unadoptable” Huskies are welcomed. “These are Huskies that are in their later years in life, eight years and up, and have a very low to no chance of getting adopted,” explains Travis. “Often times, they have been dumped by their owner for whatever reason…they have sicknesses, have been neglected, and even abused. We have had two epileptic Huskies and one partially blind Husky. Our newest resident has mobility issues and is severely malnourished.”
Typically, Huskies with these needs have a very low-to-zero chance of being adopted. “The Huskies at Animal Town often have a long road of rehabilitation both behaviorally and nutritionally, and since they are in their later years in life, it just works out that they end up ‘retiring’ here…where we make sure they get the best of everything” for the remainder of their lives.”
When making the decision to bring a Siberian Husky into your home, be sure to do research on the breed by checking with other families of Siberians, and Siberian Husky clubs and rescues. If you choose a breeder, check with your local Siberian Husky group, veterinarian, trainers, and the Siberian Husky Club of America to fully check out the breeder’s reputation and ethics.
Please be sure to check out Siberian Husky rescues, too. Rescue dogs are not damaged dogs. They are displaced or abandoned and looking for a forever loving family. Notes the Fontenots, “As rescuers, we can’t highlight the benefits of good rescue groups enough for a variety of reasons. But, for the first-time Husky owner, a good rescue group is paramount, as they are best able to teach you about the characteristics and needs of the breed. Husky rescue groups such as Bellin’s, can not only teach you about the breed in general, but help provide tips in training as well as information pertaining to keeping your husky in tip-top shape and good health.”
To locate a Siberian Husky rescue near you (national or international), visit husky.rescueshelter.com.
Whether pulling sleds over snowy terrain, running ahead of an urban musher, strolling along the beach, hiking the mountainsides, bringing joy to a sick or abused child, or cozying up on a couch with a beloved family member, Siberian Huskies are an amazing breed of dog and loving member of the family, forever.
Check out more pet stories and articles in our Pet Perspective section, including a column from Fresno Bully Rescue every other month. Advertise in KRL and 10% of your advertising fees can go to an animal rescue.