One of the best-known traits of the husky is how tough they are. They are known to pull medium size loads over long distances without tiring and on very little food. They are impervious to cold and able to survive -30 degrees with only the shelter of their furry coats. I wanted to show you some modern day photo’s of the type of life the Siberian Husky developed from for thousands of years. Dogs that were true members of the family. Both man and dogs formed a partnership so that both could live and survive. That’s what is in the DNA of the Modern Siberian and still handed down to this day. You can take a husky out of the north, but you can’t take the north out of a husky. It is what they are, and why so many end up in shelters because they are not understood. They were not bred to be apartment dwellers or couch potatoes, they are working dogs. Tough people and dogs lived together as one. The Huskies ancestors still live that way to this day.
So please don’t tell me how dog sledding is cruel. It’s a walk in the park compared to this life.
If you take an elephant and put it on a scale and record its weight, and then you remove its heart and weigh it, and finally divide the weight of the heart by the weight of the elephant, you will get a dividend of approximately 0.6 percent.
Then, if you take a mouse and put it on a scale and record its weight, then remove its heart and weigh it, and finally divide the weight of the heart by the weight of the mouse, you also will get a dividend of approximately 0.6 percent.
Now, if you take a human or a cow and weigh either one, then weigh its heart and put it on a scale and record its weight, and finally divide the weight of the heart by the weight of the person or the bovine, you still will get a dividend of approximately 0.6 percent.
In fact, if you compare the size of the heart of any mammal to its total size you will always get a ratio of roughly six-tenths of one percent. And, you can even plot these comparisons on a graph, with animal weights along the bottom and heart weights along the side. You will get a straight line with a slope of 0.6%.
All mammals’ heart weight ratios will lie near this line. Except for the dog.
If you compare the weight of a dog’s heart to its total body mass you will get a ratio of 0.8%. That’s a third again as large as other mammals!
Now, a human marathon runner’s heart will increase in size under intensive training, perhaps up to 0.8%, which is an average dog’s size. But, a marathon racing husky’s heart also will increase with lots of exercise, from 0.8% to 1.0%. All the training in the world will never give a human super-athlete a heart as proportionately large as a sled dog’s. Marathon huskies are the aerobic super-athletes of the world.
Even more interesting is how the sled dog got that way. We would like to assume that humans “engineered” the sled dog from a wolf into an aerobic marathon runner through selective breeding–the way we have turned the water buffalo into a milk cow, or the way we morphed the wolf into the poodle, the chihuahua, the great Dane, and the shih-tsu. But, we’d be wrong.
It turns out the wolf also has a heart size ratio far higher than other mammals.
Wolves are born to run long distances and they have been for as long as there have been wolves and the wide-ranging prey upon which they feed. And, sled dogs, with whom wolves share a common ancestor, have carried aerobic wolf genes in their chromosomes for millennia. We humans have done little to make the sled dog a marathon runner. They evolved for it.
We may have selectively molded the wolf into the Irish setter or the Dalmatian or the Mexican hairless on the outside, but on the inside, the dog’s physiology has changed very little for thousands of years. Like its lupine cousins, who will routinely trot up to 50 miles per day as a pack in search of game, the sled dog will trot along with its team mates for hours on end, reveling in the arctic scenery, and knowing that there’s a hot meal waiting up ahead.
If humankind had stood on the shores of the Great Flood as it receded, and surveyed all of the pairs of critters disembarking from Noah’s ark, to choose the one best animal with which to run a thousand-mile sled dog race, the wise person would have chosen the dog.
While it is doubtful that this is how it happened, there is no question that the aboriginal inhabitants of the Arctic made the right decision when they let the friendlier of the wild dogs of the North creep toward their fires to scavenge the crumbs of their feasts. For that first courageous overture, the primitive wolf’s descendants have been amply rewarded with the best food, shelter, and humane care possible in such a harsh environment. In return, the aboriginal peoples, and the white immigrants with whom they shared their knowledge of the wilds, were given the greatest of all athletes in the world to carry their loads and share their journeys under the northern lights.
So on Valentine’s Day, when our thoughts turn to open hearts, thankful for all of the loves in our lives, we mustn’t forget to put our arms around that super-athlete at our feet. He’s got the biggest heart on the planet.
Dr. Jerry Vanek has been a musher or sled dog race veterinarian for the past 30 years, including five Yukon Quests. He is a former officer of theISDVMA and he continues to write and speak widely on the subject of sled dog medicine.Author: Jerry Vanek, DVM
Mr. Cooper gets a bath when it rains. He gets brushed out when I have time. I guess I abuse him for not putting bows in his hair and letting him be a dog. Even so, I think he is as happy as a dog can be. He’s loved and fed, has shelter, and exercise, and gets the best medical care. But he is a sled dog that PETA says must go live free. Most humans would be happy to have what Mr. Cooper does. Dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years. They can’t survive on their own. You might as well sentence them to death.
How can sled dogs do what they do? Here is the answer for the less informed.
“I don’t want to see another dog or cat born.” – Wayne Pacelle, Former CEO Humane Society of the United States
Animal rights extremists like the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) seek to put an end to animal ownership. In their eyes, animals should share rights with humans and some of the most extreme among them equate animal ownership to slavery. Their goal of abolishing animal ownership and animal breeding is an extreme view not known by many.
Because you can’t just openly support laws and regulations outlawing pet ownership, HSUS instead works to regulate pet breeders out of business. In a number of states and local municipalities, there is legislation on the books that strips away the rights of breeders and those of pet owners.
The first step to stopping these radical organizations and their activities is by being informed. To find out what’s going on in your state, visit AKC’s Government Relations webpage – there you will find a map that lists legislation by state: http://www.cqstatetrack.com/…/…/insession/viewrpt/main.html…
There’s something you can do if you have concerns. The AKC has also provided a tool kit of tips that walks through the process of contacting your representatives.
AKC TOOLS AVAILABLE:
COMMUNICATING EFFECTIVELY WITH YOUR LEGISLATORS: http://images.akc.org/…/communicating_effectively_flyer.pdf…
MAKE YOUR CONTACT COUNT: http://images.akc.org/pdf/GILEG1.pdf…
WHAT TO DO WHEN A BAD BILL IS INTRODUCED: http://images.akc.org/pdf/GILEG1.pdf…
HOW A BILL BECOMES A LAW: http://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/…/GR_BillToLaw_2015_Infog…
Additional resources are available on AKC’s Toolbox page: http://www.akc.org/government-relations/toolbox/
Sign up for our newsletter: http://protecttheharvest.com/newsletter-sign-up/
I talk and write a lot about huskies. I try to bring you the essence of what they really are. They are not toys, they are the real deal. To have a relationship with these dogs is somewhat of a religious experience. And to many, it awakens the sleeping spirit inside of them. Something inside your soul that you didn’t even know existed until you ran with the dogs. It fills you with confidence in them and yourself. These dogs are not being abused.
They are doing what they love to do, they are true to what they are, as humans many times are not. Notice the lead dog, his ears are erect as he uses his senses to keep the team moving through this storm. Once he has his bearings he drives forward encouraging the team with his confidence. He leads for a reason and that is because he is capable and the team believes in him. The musher is just along for the ride in conditions like this. He or she trust their dogs…they have to. It’s a beautiful thing to watch. This is true teamwork.
There is no way you can make any dog do this unless they want to do it. They thrive on this and give you everything they have. Can we do no less?
Video credit to Bekka May Gunner.