This is a true tale about the road to understanding a Siberian. I can’t speak for everyone, because our trails and dogs are not all the same. Even so, I think there are some common things that happen as you start out with one of these old souls.
The first part of my journey was falling in love with how a Siberian looks. Not hard to do at all because it was one of the most beautiful creatures nature has ever produced. Not only do they have beautiful colors and markings…it’s the eyes that get me.
They eyes are the window to the soul. These huskies have the most enticing eyes. Eyes not only of color, but those that exude intelligence. They are in some ways the eyes of the wolf.
Burning into you, examining everything around them, and looking deep into your own gaze… with a judgmental and questioning glow.
The total package is mesmerizing, and why I think so many people just grab them up. Grab them up without a clue as to what that exterior conceals.
Behind those looks is a dog from ancient times. A dog with a long history of surviving. Encoded into their DNA by the bones of relatives lost along some frozen trail in the middle of nowhere.
Do not let the age of your husky fool you. They have wisdom beyond their days. And it is compressed into the short life they are given, that in many ways is a good thing…a survival thing.
For a new owner of the husky breed, the first thing that happens is you bring home this puppy and they seem to be perfect loving little dogs. They might chew a bit more than other dogs, might take some extra work to potty train but they are docile and loving.
I remember this part very well. I kept thinking what’s the big deal? Why do all these books say you just brought home the devil? My little husky pup is no different from any other dog I’ve owned.
This manner of thinking was quickly turned inside out. As my puppy grew, so did his appetite for new things. Chewing, digging, being stubborn where just a few of them. The only time he was happy was on a walk…and I walked a thousand miles his first year. Truly one thousand miles on foot with my pup. Rain, snow, heat, we did it all no matter what.
I quickly learned that this “Dog” was some kind of engine designed to go forever like the energizer bunny. Insatiable, and when not walking, or chewing, he was a digging machine. Mix this with a lack of trust on their part. Obtaining husky trust takes a very long time. Two years was the magic number for both of my dogs.
Just like human children the husky has a puberty time to go through. During this time, you think that everything you taught them was suddenly forgotten…but it wasn’t.
This is the hardest time for a new husky owner. This is the time when you have to find the patience of a saint, and the wisdom of an oracle.
This is the time when the husky suddenly realizes what he is and flexes his might.
Supercharged on hormones, he will test all boundaries. He will test you to see if you truly are worthy of being his partner.
Being the bringer of food is not enough for a husky. Most dogs will love the food provider…not so much a husky if you lack the ability to provide what else they need.
He will test his status in the household or in the pack. He wants to climb in status, much like anyone of us does. The big difference is he has a unique set of tools, fang and claw. Able to destroy our man-made treasures like they are nothing.
Material items are of no concern unless they provide one of the three basic needs. Shelter, food, adventure, and more adventure.
To be honest,shelter and food are not so important to a husky.
A husky has built-in shelter in his coat, and the ability to go far on very little food. Ah, but adventure is a huge thing! The husky wants to see the whole world, and wants you to see it with him. For what good is adventure unless you can share it with your pack?
Compared to these Siberians we are clumsy and slow. We don’t have 4- leg drive, claws, and energy to burn. They do and then some, but you know what? For whatever reason there is a bond between them and us.
It came from all those years in the dark ages when huskies and man first became partners. They did it so both could survive. They have not forgotten that, it’s part of them as much as anything else or they would not even bother with us.
The secret to a happy life with a husky is to understand their past. Just like you would consider the journey of any man before you lay judgement on them. You have to walk in those shoes, face those terrible moments of fear and hardship to honestly judge.
The Siberian retains all of the knowledge of his kin. It is locked away in a little part of their brains but emerges from time to time. One thing is for certain…it will not be denied when it comes out.
The many lessons from the past are in them.
Running to get to where the trail ends, no matter if they have food or shelter, no matter what the goal is…the husky will get there or die trying. It matters not if that goal is important or not…it is the goal…and the journey is the pay-off. The journey is what they live for…. good or bad it makes life exciting!
I have learned that working my dogs is the key to their hearts and minds. We run, we train, in all types of whether. I endure the elements just like them even though I’m not made for it. Somehow, I think they know this. They provide when I cannot, they pick up the slack in the dark, or in a storm when I am just dead weight with a loud voice.
We bond as a team. Each has strong points and weak ones. I keep them safe, and run them not into danger. They provide the muscle, and they will go the distance when others fail.
And when it’s all done… and the goal has been reached.
They cuddle up with me and we sleep soundly in the company of each other’s warmth and security…. until tomorrow.
Then we try it again, for each day of life is fleeting, and we need to live in the moment for there may not be a next one.
And this is the dog you have brought into your home. This is a creature like no other dog you have known before.
This is the Siberian Husky.