Husky Sledding

This week I thought I’d focus on ‘out and about’ with a flashback of a fabulous holiday we took a few years ago. One of the treats on that excursion was to go husky sledding.

Alaskan huskies differ from the Siberian huskies we’re more used to seeing. Alaskans are more of a mixed dog—some look similar to the Siberian but most are very different, almost a blended breed.

Don’t know what I expected, and the animals were definitely friendly and happy, and they certainly wanted to do nothing but run, but it surprised me they live in outside kennels all their lives. I asked someone about this when we returned and was told, “They’re happiest with what they know and are accustomed to.” Apparently, on one run we didn’t go on when they stopped for a break and a hot drink round a fire, one dog slipped her harness and ran ‘home’ — something she likely wouldn’t have done were she miserable.

We saw huskies in two places—both had excellent facilities in terms of veterinary care. I was also worried about their old age, so was happy to hear they have ‘retirement plans’. In Tromso, we were told this starts with the owner asking the staff if they will take a dog coming up for retirement, but as we were also told, you’re talking about a dog that’s been outside all its life—it doesn’t know warmth and it doesn’t know your sofa isn’t for chewing—and in the morning when you let it out for its morning toilet it’s going to want to go for a run… for, oh about ten miles over the nearest mountain. In short, it’s not a thing to do lightly, but someone also assured me they can make excellent house dogs and can adapt.

They also assured us they have wonderful lives. For all I know they do—that’s a matter of opinion and some people will struggle with working dogs and the Norwegian way of life. I can only say the dogs seemed happy, were in good condition, and were definitely friendly.

Of the nine puppies we got to play with three were very interested in my boots. They ganged up on my boot ribbons (as opposed to laces) and feathers, and all I could do was laugh. If we never get another chance we’re glad we went sledding once. Just a word of warning though—you take some hard jolts and as my other half found out, when the snow is soft the sledge can take an unexpected tilt and you can get attacked by twigs and trees. Joking aside, he took a whack to the shoulder and a clip to the ear. He’s lucky it wasn’t worse, but we’ll certainly never forget playing in the snow.