Part Two: Is a Siberian Husky the right breed for you?

Jan 9, 2016 | 2016 Articles, Pets

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.”

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Team Ineka

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!

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Forto Team Ineka dryland mushing

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.

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Karen Hill Ojibwa

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.”

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Bellin at work

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.”

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Author Dorothy Wills Raftery & the FiveSibes Pack

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.

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Urban Mushing

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.

Dorothy Wills-Raftery is an author, photojournalist, and host of “The Sibe Vibe” on Dog Works Radio. She has been writing and published in a variety of publications since she was a teen, and spent her career as an award-winning photojournalist and editor in the educational arena for 14 years. In 2010, she began writing about Siberian Huskies, and was named “Best in Print” author for 2015 by American Pet Magazine, and awarded Hudson Valley Magazine’s “Best Author 2015.” She shares her life with five full-blooded Siberian Huskies who are the inspiration for her globally top-ranked Siberian Husky website, the FiveSibes™ blog.

38 Comments

  1. What great information on this breed. And bravo to you for helping out the less fortunate/special dogs!

    Reply
    • Thank you, Kelly! I appreciate that! 🙂

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  2. What great information and photos. My husband has always wanted a Siberian Husky (I love them too, but tend to rescue scrappier dogs). When I wanted to adopt our current scrappy mutt, my husband agreed, as long as he could name her. I agreed. He named her N.A.S.H.A., which stands for “Not A Siberian Husky Again.” Maybe someday! 🙂

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    • Thank you, Kristen! N.A.S.H.A. – how clever! Love that! I hope he gets his Husky one day! Will love to see the name he chooses then! Keep me posted!

      Reply
  3. They are such a wonderful breed! Animal Town sounds awesome – thanks for sharing what they do for Huskies. It sounds like a perfect place to retire.

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    • Thank you, Pawesome Cats! I’d like to retire at Animal Town! 🙂

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  4. My dad really wants a husky, but while we live in town we are putting getting on hold until we get a new place in the country. Have a wonderful weekend! 🙂

    Reply
    • Do let us know if he does! Happy Weekend! 🙂

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  5. I’ve seen Huskies urban mushing here before! It’s really neat. They were pulling a woman in a tiny cart.

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    • How cool to see the urban mushing! Great way to travel, too! 😉

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  6. This is a terrific post! I regret not going on the Husky sled excursion when we were in Alaska. Maybe next time. It looks like such fun. It is so hot down here that a Husky would be miserable but I do see them occasionally.

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    • Thank you, M.K.! Oh, going to Alaska on a sled excursion is on my dream to-do list! I hope if you go back, you do! What an adventure that would be!

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  7. Bellin is a real beauty. I’ve not seen urban mushing before. That looks like fun!

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    • Hi, Val! Bellin is indeed beautiful – and what an inspirational tale from being abused to rescued to helping others as a Therapy Dog! And I’d love to go urban mushing, too!

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  8. It is sad that special needs and older cats and dogs have such a hard time finding homes. I’m glad there are sanctuaries for these pets where they will be safe and cared for for life.

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    • We agree, so thankful for the sanctuaries, and for the folks who have them. 🙂

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  9. This is great information. My daughter has always wanted a huskie.

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    • Thank you, Dogvills! I hope she gets her wish one day! 🙂

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  10. I love huskies! I think they are gorgeous dogs and it’s so awesome seeing them do the job they were bred for. I know they are probably not the right breed for me but I still think they are beautiful!

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    • Hi, Lauren! They sure are beautiful and wonderful dogs!

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    • Hi, Sweet Perfections! I certainly agree with that! 🙂

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  11. Huskies are such beautiful dogs. We have several friends with rescues. They do seem to do well with lots of exercise. We tried sledding in Quebec and did stories on dogs in Alaska and northern Canada.

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    • I love the stories about this breed! I bet your sledding experience was fun and exciting!

      Reply
  12. What a wonderful breed. It is so nice to see that there is a place for them to retire too and that these huskies are helping abused children.

    I too have never heard of urban mushing, very interesting.

    Thanks for sharing such a wonderful post.

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    • Hi, Suzanne! I’m so glad you enjoyed series on Huskies! Thank you!

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  13. Huskies are such beautiful dogs, we have several friends who have them. Great info, thanks for sharing!

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  14. I’d love to see urban mushing or any kind for that matter. Our lifestyle isn’t a good fit for a Husky, but I love them.

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    • I had the pleasure of watching a sled dog team do a demo at a Tails of the Tundra Siberian Husky event I was at in Pennsylvania. So very exciting to meet these Huskies who just love what they do!

      Reply
  15. Siberian huskies are so beautiful! I live in Michigan, so it is interesting to learn that there is someone from here that competes in dog sled races. That is very cool! 🙂

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    • Hi Robin! I knew a few sled dog Husky families there in Michigan! Hope you can get out and see them some time!

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  16. As a husky mom of 3, I agree with you 100%. Siberian Huskies are amazing dogs but they are not for every family. Just like any other breed you have to understand their personality and needs. I love my 3 and wouldn’t trade them for the world. 2 of the 3 are rescues and they are no where near damaged. They bring me so much joy day in and out.

    Reply
  17. Thank you for all of that wonderful information. I’ve never had a husky – only a German shepherd. They sound like a wonderful dog.

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  18. Thanks, Patty! In addition to Siberian Huskies, two of my furangels were German Shepherds – one was a retired NYPD K9 officer we adopted, and the other was a German Shepherd/Akita mix we adopted. Beautiful dogs!

    Reply
  19. What a delightful post & what a special dog Bell in is! I fell in love with the Husky breed after getting our Husky. Like the beautiful Bellin, my Husky Icy is a Pet Partners therapy dog too! My dream vacation is to go to Alaska for the Iditarod race!
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Love Them

    Reply
    • Thank you, Cathy! Icy is beautiful! Seeing the Iditarod is on my dream list, too!

      Reply

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