Do you see some cute puppies, more or less like any other? Did you know that there is more than meets the eye inside of that cute exterior?
I’ll tell you what I see. I see the reincarnation of legends.
A dog breed above all others…a Seppala Siberian Sled Dog. The original working dogs of Leonhard Seppala that led to every Siberian Husky in the world today. If you were to write down a list of specifications for a new breed of dog. According to my friend Mr. Mick Brent this is what you might come up with when you talk about Siberians:
I also see the results of thousands of years of breeding before the Siberian came into existence. I see in these little bodies unknown potential and the ability to do great things, much like the dogs that made the serum run to Nome in 1925.
I see our promise in living flesh that this line of dogs will not go quietly into the night. That they will continue to impress and perform as working dogs and family members for years to come.
But it doesn’t come easy these days as their numbers continue to decline. For those of us who love them that is not acceptable. So we do all we can to ensure the legend will continue for others to experience just what makes them so special.
With each new birth…the legend continues.
That’s what I see when I look at these puppies.
And that’s what Poland Springs Kennel is about.
I’ve mentioned before that husky behaviors are not constant. Most people would expect that once the puppy has reached maturity that his/her personality is now set, and will remain that way for the life of the dog. My own experience with many breeds, led me to believe this was the normal way of dogdom.
Enter the Siberian Husky who has shown me once again that I need to throw out the book of common dogdom. Normal or expected doesn’t apply to the Siberians. At least not the ones I’ve known. In my dogs the puppy stage ended at 6 months. From 6-18 months was the adolescent teen-age type attitudes of testing, and trying out what they could get away with.
18-24 months the lessons had been learned if you bother to train them, and things would be stable for a while. At 24 months this seemed to be the turning point where most (not all) destructive chewing and silly behavior ended. It was like a switch was flipped in their brains, and I could tell they had reached a new level of understanding.
Their Siberian personalities were pretty stable at that point, and I thought this would be how they act for the rest of their lives give or take some minor changes. Not so… because the one thing I’ve learned is that huskies do not remain constant in their thinking. They continue to develop mentally, and each one has a few quirks that make them unique.
My example of this is Mr. Cooper. He turned 3 years of age this past December. Between 2 and 3 he had established a pretty stable personality. I was pretty confident on his abilities to pull and run hard. He was in fact a great teacher to my year younger girl. My best guess is Cooper and I have covered over 2000 miles in the last 3 years. Either by foot, bike, or cart. He’s never shirked a task and seemed to really enjoy just plain running no matter the reason.
In the last two months things began to change. I saw them coming because I pay attention to every detail about my dogs when we run. I can tell by their gait and body language if they are in good health. I can tell from the way they act, and how they look at me what the state of their mind is.
In Cooper’s case he has always gotten enough exercise. It is very apparent now, that this is not enough to keep him truly happy.
The tell-tale signs are finding him sleeping in his dog house more than usual. The look on his face shows some sadness in his eyes. He actually escaped by eating a hole in the weak spot in the fence. In three years he’s never escaped except by accident. But the most telling is during our recent runs.
At first it started as little things like losing focus and wanting to go after things that long since have been ignored. Next was ignoring commands to go the direction HE wanted to take, not mine. I could control these, but I’d never had to do it before. These continued to get worse even though controllable. Then the final one is during a run he would just slow down and come to a stop like he was exhausted.
I had no proof if he was exhausted, but I always gave him the benefit of the doubt and would stop for a rest break and water. Usually in a few minutes he would be good to go again. But this trait has continued to get worse.
I reached the point where I was pretty sure it wasn’t exhaustion but something else. The clues were all there but I wasn’t putting it together. Last night I proved for a fact what it is that’s bothering him. Its trail boredom, or in my case Urban boredom. It took 3 years and several thousand miles to do it but that’s what it is.
I proved it by testing him. Last night about a mile into the run he pulled up right after I wouldn’t go the way he wanted. It was cold and windy so it was not heat related. If he could go 5 miles before there was no way that 1 mile at normal speed he should be exhausted.
I turned the rig around and went back the way we came. I let him go the way he’d wanted and he took off like the wind, now that we were heading the way he wanted…everything was fine.
The solution for this is easy. I have to do more work by loading up the rig and dogs. Then find a new place for us to run. I think huskies run because that is how they get adventure. The mistake is to think that they love working. Just like us they work to get something they need. In our case we work to make money to get what we need.
Siberians work to get something they need. And that is a new adventure.
Why? Usually the clue to husky behaviors can be found in the history of the breed. For thousands of years dogs with the desire to travel were bred, and those that preferred to lay around were of no use and thus not bred. That’s how a breeds traits are developed and ingrained. Adventurous men needed adventurous dogs. The Siberian is the results of what they did.
This might be the reason so many people have trouble integrating them into urban life. It takes a lot of work to keep these dogs happy. The urban environment is not made for them, and it’s up to us owners to figure out how to meet their needs the best we can.
They are hard to undestand at times and even that takes some work.
It’s the way of the Husky.
A lot of people don’t get what it is about driving sled dogs. They wonder what the connection is that makes it so special to those who do. The dogs are more than pets…they are partners, and teachers about life. This video gives you a glimpse into a world that few ever experience. A glimpse into the bond between men and dogs that has lasted for thousands of years. Listen to one mans thoughts about it.
On March 6th, 2018
3 souls arrived at our Poland Spring Kennel in Maine. Three brand new female Seppala Siberian Sled dogs in the world.
The legend continues: http://www.polandspringseppalas.com/
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When I ran across this photo in my memories it reminded me of how far my dogs and I have come. There have been many adventures and things I’ve had to learn the hard way. The Siberian People have much to teach and sometimes hind sight is better.
I look back now and realize that I should have gotten 2 pups at the same time instead of one. I went through raising each dog one year at a time, and I could have done it all at once.
Siberians…at least from my perspective don’t like to be alone. They have high demands for adventure and exercise. My first thoughts as a new owner was one dog is enough! What I didn’t know was that two dogs help keep each other occupied, and tend to wear each other out with play.
This makes the workload less, not more. True, you have double the vet bills, food, toys etc. But what is your own time worth? Instead of walking one dog at a time I can walk two, and they are not so lonely when I’m gone.
Huskies also seem to know that all dogs are not created equal. I’ve found that mine will choose another husky over any other animal to hang out with. If another husky is not available, they will take on just about any critter for companionship. But if given a choice they want one of their own people instead.
This is just another facet of the Siberians to think about.
“Please keep in mind that we need rescue organizations. I’m singling out the many bad ones who exist in the USA today. This is based on my own experience with them. I in no way want to stop the rescue effort…just fix it because the dogs deserve better.”
So once again I’ve been turned down by a rescue. This time it’s because Nikki is not fixed yet. Now I don’t see why that matters as I said I would take either sex and altered. What possible thing could her not being fixed have to do with adopting out a dog to me? All of my Huskies are fixed but her, and I have not yet decided whether to breed her. What does that have to do with me adopting an altered dog?
It’s my choice to breed her or not. It is not their choice to tell me what to do with my dogs, in order to have another one. As long as I can prove that I can support and care for them what difference does it make?
I could have saved three dogs by now, but instead I was forced to buy puppies because I’m apparently not good enough for a rescue husky. How do these places set up their requirements? I’d really like to sit down with one of these folks and hear their reasoning for each requirement.
So who is good enough? I’m telling you it was much easier to adopt my two son’s, than it is to get a dog. I have a problem with their “Contract” as well, but I was willing to put up with it. Most rescue contracts have a clause that for the “Life of the pet they are entitled to come pay visits and determine if the dog should be removed.”
I understand this if the dog is being mistreated or not cared for, but who makes the call? Based on the requirements to get a dog in the first place this seems like a losing proposition for a new owner. What is to stop a rescue org from taking your dog on a trumped-up charge, and then adopting it out for another fee?
Remember these organizations are a business. And by setting up these impossible requirements they are actually supporting breeders, and sometimes puppy mills. People will only put up with so much intrusive inquisitions. Think I’m wrong? Try adopting a Husky and see what you get.
Also keep in mind that many rescues are backyard enterprises set up to gain tax benefits. Along with this, is a stable full of what I call “Dog Hoarders.” These are the people who believe a dog is better off in a cage for years instead of taking a chance on anyone. I tried to save a husky that had been in rescue for 8 years! Eight fricking years! Half of his life spent in a 4×6 run being let out twice a day. That is torture for any dog, but especially for a husky.
Everyone loses, but most of all the dogs He/she has once again been bonded to a family and removed…this time by the very org that wants to save him. There are no standard rules, and each org makes up their own based on their sometimes insane beliefs.
I think some legislation on dog rescue orgs needs to be installed. A set of rules needs to be set by law and enforced. The lack of law makes it harder to save dogs. People who cannot meet these absurd requirements will buy puppies…just like I was forced to do.
If you know me at all you’d understand how crazy it is to say I’m not qualified. I can afford their medical care, know the breed, and have a great property for them to run. They don’t lack for anything including exercise and love. But I’m not good enough because my house has stairs, a swimming pool, and elderly mother-in-law, and 3 cats.
If I’m not good enough who is? This does nothing to help the dogs, it only keeps them locked up for most of their lives. This is bull shit and even though some organizations are real, many are not. The dogs deserve a chance at a real life. Some will not get the best home but many who could give it are denied due to fanaticism and people making rules who have no clue.
I filled out the forms, let them have access to all my vet records etc. Still not good enough and even though I don’t think I’m perfect…what else can I do? If they really care about re-homing these huskies, they need to lighten up a bit.
For a little more insight check out this article from someone on the other side.