Life with Siberian Huskies

Inside the Palace (Annals of Queen Nikki)

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The witching hour is usually considered to be at “Midnight.” It was thought that at this time paranormal forces are at their peak. This is the time that witches came out to practice their evil magic.

At my house, it usually occurs between 2:30-3:30 AM. This is the time that the dark forces call to one black and white husky named, “Nikki.” This is the time when she decides I should wake up so she can go out and commune with these dark spirits that come calling.

While searching for a solution to my interrupted sleep. I began to wonder if her name might have something to do with it. I mean, I’m running out of ideas so I must examine every possibility. I looked up her name which my wife bestowed upon her. Maybe there is an answer to her personality in it?

In English, the meaning of the name Nikki is: Abbreviation of Nicholas. Mythological Nike was Greek goddess of victory and root origin of ‘Nicholas. “You are restless, sociable people-oriented, a lover of change, and a seeker of adventure and new thrills.”

My wife sure can pick them! That describes Nikki perfectly, even if she happens to be a cute little husky.

This morning at 2:00 AM the “Nickster” woke me up in the usual way. A jab with both front paws to the chest followed by a lick, and wide gleaming eyes full of unknown husky mischief. She was letting me know that forces beyond my understanding were calling to the Queen of the Night.

I stumbled around to the sliding glass door, and before setting her free told her, “Don’t take all night! Do your thing and get back here…I want to sleep!”

She wags that fuzzy tail, and dances around like she can actually hear me. I slide the door open and “Whoosh!” the black and white bullet is gone as soon as she can fit though the gap. I wait a few minutes and no Nikki. So, I call her and threaten her with a few choice words. No response…

I look over at Cooper who is content to have stolen her little dog bed while she is outside. Never mind the fact that he barely fits in it. The fact that he now lies in the Queens bed is more than enough to make him hold back any thoughts of going out to pee.

“You’re a lot of help!” I tell him and open the door.

Every night about this same time I wonder if the neighbors can hear me yelling, “Don’t make me get my shoes on, and come after you!”

I wait a few more minutes, and the threat goes unanswered. I grumble at Cooper as I put my tennis shoes on, “Got damn dog!”

He smiles at me and Waller’s in the little bed with no concern about any injustice I have to endure.

Cooper then settles on his back with all 4 legs in the air and finally looks at me as I retrieve the flashlight and head for the door. The look on his face says, “She’s the Queen, what did you expect?”

Now I’m armed with a tactical flashlight, shorts, T-Shirt, and tennis shoes. I head out in the dark to find out where the hell she went, and why she hasn’t come back yet.

The Tac-light has a beam powerful enough to look like a search light when you point it up in the sky. Once again, I wonder if the neighbors are laughing, and looking out their bedroom window as I search the grounds for “Stinky!”

You see, the husky Queens nick name changes depending on any given scenario she puts me in. At the current time, she was at the “Stinky” level of my patience. Queen or not she was being “Stinky!”

I scan the front quarter acre, with no dog in sight? I know she is out there, but I can’t see her and have to call her again as I sweep the laser like beam of light around.

Just when I think she has escaped, out of the bushes comes a black and white form. Slinking, and then running to escape the beam of light like a prisoner running to escape the flood lights from the guard towers!

She may be fast, but light is faster!

She circles wide… but realizes she’s been made, and there is no escape from the light or me. She then trots to the back door, and waits impatiently for me like I’ve been wasting the Queens time!

I trudge back in the middle of the night, not taking the light off of her. I was not about to let her fade into the dark once more. She wags her tail…” Right!” I tell her and open the door.

Quick as a wink she darts inside and spots Cooper in her bed. No problem… she jumps up on mine, does three quick circles and flops down like nothing happened. Apparently, her buried bones and other treasures on the royal grounds are all safe and accounted for.

I grumble, but am tired enough to just forget it. I want to get some sleep before the alarm goes off in 90 more minutes.

Once again, the Queen has won the game. I’ll solve this problem one of these days if I’m lucky.

If not, there will always be plenty of campfire stories about Queen Nikki!

Her loyal servant,

TJ

 

Eye of the Hurricane

This is another long post but it’s done out of the love for the breed. I hope I can help someone who is feeling frustrated and torn between the love of their dog and the problems they face. I don’t have all the answers, but you can read what I think and make your own decisions.

The eye of a hurricane is relatively calm circular space surrounded by destruction on all sides. As the hurricane approaches you feel the wind, rain, and things get destroyed. This is followed by the calm eye but wait, it’s not over yet. The back wall is on its way to cause more chaos and destruction.

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This can be the recurring cycle for some Husky owners. While you are gone, the hurricane hits destroying almost anything with tooth and claw. When you get home all seems well as your husky sits calmly amid the destruction.

You clean up the mess and the evening is fine, you are in the eye of the hurricane. But the storm will continue the next day as the back wall approaches and you are at work. The cycle continues, storm after storm with no end in sight.

This behavior unfortunately affects all husky owners to some degree at some point. It’s most unfortunate for those who have no clue about a husky when they first get one. That is why almost every article warns about the husky needing a special type of person to deal with them.

Huskies are one of the most beautiful creatures God ever created, but they are like a sports car. You might purchase a beautiful car only to find out it won’t start most of the time, and the wheels fall off on occasion if you don’t perform certain maintenance and understand the needs of that car.

The same thing applies to the husky. They are high maintenance, and require you to read and understand the manual if there was one. There is no manual per say, each dog is to some degree different but a few things remain constant.

Huskies are not born destructive any more than a baby is born evil or good. Sure huskies chew more than other breeds and use their mouths as we would our hands. But they cannot speak English to tell us what is bothering them anymore than an infant can.

The frustration comes from trying to figure out what it is that makes them behave the way they do. The easy way out comes in two parts. The first is to get rid of the problem, as so many do and this causes many huskies to end up in rescue or dead.

The second is to accept the behavior and just turn a blind eye as your home slowly is brought to the ground by tooth and claw. As silly as this sounds it’s not so rare. If you love your child to death, you will put up with some bad behaviors as well. It’s no different being the parent of a husky.

So what do I do?

The first thing you need to do, is try and discover why your husky is being destructive. As most owners will tell you exercise is the answer to most problems. You will get sick of hearing that, but it’s true. A husky is like a tightly coiled spring about to explode. Their energy is almost impossible to comprehend.

  1. Huskies were bred to be an animal with the ability to run and pull in upwards of a hundred miles a day, through the most inhospitable lands on the planet. There unique physiology allows them to burn fat instead of sugar when taxed. They do not get sore from lactic acid like humans or other dogs. They can sleep a few hours and then get up and do it again…and again.

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Your walk around the block does not compare to that. The first thing you need to do is figure out if the amount of exercise you give your husky is sufficient to tire them out. All dogs were not created equal so what works for one may not be enough for the other. A tired Husky will have his tail down, his tongue a mile long, and be slavering all over. When you get home he will drink water and take a nap almost immediately.

  1. Confinement is something all huskies must face to varying degrees. But I can guarantee you they do not like it one bit. Toys to play with only go so far as they get bored easily. It’s much more fun to eat the wall. Sheetrock does not stand a chance to tooth and claw.

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As may people live in apartments space is at a premium. A crate provides protection for your belongings, but at the cost of your dog’s happiness. That is why they howl, or destroy the nice bed you gave them. They need more room if possible, and maybe with a baby gate and a closet you can give it to them.

Whatever you do, be sure to let them have as much free run, and quality time as you can to make up for that incarceration you imposed on them. I’ve talked about quality time before and it means more than a pat on the head while you watch T.V. Your husky wants and needs to be part of your pack (Family), make sure you give them some quality time.

  1. Loneliness will make a Husky slowly go insane. In fact, it is the most severe punishment you can use on a Husky. A time out in a closet for no more than 30 seconds for bad behavior is like getting a slap across the face.

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The pack mentality of the husky was developed over thousands of years and is much more pronounced than other K-9’s. Huskies lived, slept, and worked with man as a complete family unit. They even slept on the kids at night to keep them warm. To isolate them goes against everything in their DNA.

Maybe your husky is lonely if you only have one. A possible solution is to have a companion for them, another dog. It doesn’t have to be a husky as they really don’t mind. Maybe they can stay with someone else while you work, or maybe someone can come and see them during the day. You can find some kind of solution if you work it out.

I think those are the three most common reasons a husky will eat your house.

You need to think and find what they are missing and the destruction should stop. They only do this because it is the only way to show you they are frustrated. It’s up to you to understand the husky, the husky can’t do it for you.

I hope this helps at least one husky from being abandoned or sent to the pound.

TJ

History of the Siberian Husky

If you are contemplating bringing a Siberian Husky into your home, it will serve you well to learn how this breed was developed. How can you understand your dog if you don’t know how he became what he is? Behind those blue eyes are thousands of years of history. Countless generations of dogs have lived and died; their bones are scattered amid some of the most inhospitable lands man and dog have ever lived upon. The Husky has changed over the years, but even today behind those blue eyes certain things about a Husky remain the same.

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The Siberian Husky is a pure and ancient dog breed. The development of this breed by the Chukchi (Chuck Chee) people dates back at least 4,000 years, perhaps even longer. Let’s stop and think about that for a minute. When the Great Pyramids of Egypt were being completed, Huskies were pulling sleds through the frozen wastelands of North Eastern Asia.

The Chukchi people are given credit for the development and breeding of Siberian Huskies. This ancient people were reindeer herders and hunters. Huskies were used to pull heavy loads long distances through an extremely cold and harsh environment. The tribes moved everything they owned as they followed the food supply. Men, women, children and Huskies learned to survive, a team effort few of us can imagine. Both man and dog needed each other to survive.

It’s no wonder that the Chukchi even to this day treat their dogs with the utmost respect. Without them they would have perished. The Chukchi still believe one simple rule about the dogs they live with.

“The way you treat your dog in this life determines your place in heaven.”

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Huskies were used to pull the sleds, and the people walked. The dogs were so respected that only the very young, old or sick ones could ride on a sled. The Chukchis had a shamanistic religion and believed the gates to heaven were guarded by a pair of dogs. They believed anyone who mistreated a dog would not be allowed into heaven.

The Chukchis eventually learned how to domesticate reindeer. The huskies were now trained how to herd, instead of kill them. In time the reindeer were used to haul the heavy loads. Huskies were then bred for agility, endurance, and power. Even to this day no other breed in the world can haul a light load as fast and as far the Siberian Husky. And this amazing breed can do it on a small amount of food and rest.

In 1742 the Russians declared all-out war against the Chukchi people. They had tried to make them surrender their land for over 40 years. The people were beaten by the Russians in every battle but they refused to give up.

In my own personal belief, the Husky was impacted by their owners. The Siberian Husky retains this same steadfast determination that allows them to continue when other breeds give up. This can be a great trait in a dog pulling a sled, but can be problematic if the dog is left bored and untrained.

But let’s get back to history as there is more to this story of how the Husky came to America.

Sadly, only a few Siberian Huskies remain in their native land today. Their downfall began in the 1930’s. The Stalinist Communists began enacting a plan to destroy every trace of the Non-Soviet culture. This included the natives, even their dogs.

The Communist believed the dogs had out lived their usefulness and could be replaced with modern vehicles. They soon learned these vehicles only got stuck in the snow and broke down while the dogs went merrily upon their way.

Trying to save face, the Soviet Congress dictated that dogs did have some value and created four State approved classifications: Sled dogs, Herders, Big and Small Game Hunters. It was decided Huskies were too small to pull anything and were not included. Soviet Congress ignored the fact Huskies had been pulling sleds all over Siberia for thousands of years.

The Soviets’ next action was to begin a campaign of terror to wipe out the Chukchis and their beloved dogs. They attempted to systematically kill men, women, and dogs. The people still survive to this day, and the Husky can be found all around the world.

Two things saved the Siberian Husky: one was the great Alaskan Gold Rush; the other was a Norwegian man named Leonhard Seppala. Some people believe it was coincidence, others believe it was divine intervention. I happen to believe the latter. I don’t believe God was going to let one of his finest creations perish from the earth.

The Klondike Gold Rush from 1896-1899 brought over 100,000 prospectors to the gold fields via Nome, Alaska. History can’t point to exactly how the Husky first came to Alaska. Some believe they came with some adventurous Chukchi who crossed the Bering Strait. Others believe the demand for dogs in the gold fields sent traders to Siberia to find them.

However, it happened is not as important as the fact Siberian Huskies found a new frozen land where they could live and thrive. Free of persecution they would become a symbol of the great state of Alaska.

Enter Leonhard Seppala who was a Norwegian born in the Arctic Circle. He immigrated to America in 1914 where he worked in the gold fields of Alaska, driving freight dogs, and later participating in sled dog races. His part in Husky history was to bring enough fame to them to ensure they would be forever loved and adored in the United States. Seppala’s claim to fame happened in January 1925 when his home of Nome Alaska was in the middle of a raging diphtheria epidemic.

With two Eskimo children already dead, the city’s supply of serum was exhausted. The nearest supply was over a thousand miles away in Anchorage. The Alaskan railroad could bring it to Nenana, but this was still 658 miles from Nome.

Alaska only had three aircraft at the time and their three pilots were gone, spending the winter in warmer weather. They could not have flown even if they had been there. Eighty mph winds and raging blizzards blotted out the sky. Under the leadership of Seppala, 20 drivers and 100 hundred sled dogs took up the challenge to deliver the serum to Nome. On a small trail that normally took 25 days to cross, these amazing dogs and drivers did it in 5 and a half days, through waist deep snow and temperatures reaching minus -62 degrees Fahrenheit. Seppala alone drove 340 miles of the trip in conditions where he could not even see his own lead dog.

The final leg of the trip was driven by Gunnar Kassan using Seppala’s second string dogs, and led by a dog named Balto. Kassan became lost on the ice of the Topkok River in the dark and accepted that he and his team were about to die.

But Balto saved the day by sniffing out the trail in 50 mph winds, in the middle of a raging blizzard. The team staggered into Nome at 5:30 AM on February 2, 1925. With their feet torn and bloody, the exhausted dogs collapsed on the ground. But the serum had been delivered and the children of Nome were saved.

To this day, the running of the Iditarod celebrates this triumph and a statue of Balto is the only statue of a dog in New York’s Central Park.

After the Serum Run, Seppala and some 40 of his dogs toured the “lower 48” states. The Siberian Husky was no longer unknown. The Siberian Husky would forevermore capture the hearts of men and women everywhere.

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Statue of Balto in New York’s Central Park.

The plaque on Balto’s statue reads:

Dedicated to the indomitable spirit of the sled dogs that relayed antitoxin six hundred miles over rough ice, across treacherous waters, through Arctic blizzards from Nenana to the relief of stricken Nome in the Winter of 1925.

Endurance · Fidelity · Intelligence

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TJ

 

Why a blog?

This is a blog about the Siberian Husky. My insight into the mind of the Husky comes from many hours of observations, and living with them as members of my family. I want to share that information with prospective owners of these amazing dogs. And even if you don’t aspire to own a husky, maybe you will find some entertainment from my own journey with them.

I hope you learn something helpful to you and your Husky, should you choose to take the trail together. You are about to learn there are no other dogs on earth quite like them. Trials and tribulations may lie ahead, but if you stay the course the rewards will be immense! I can tell you that my own journeys with my Huskies have changed my life forever.

I hope to pass on some of the stories of my own life with the Huskies. You will find them to be humorous at times, and other times serious thoughts. But each one has a lesson I’ve learned from living with these amazing people…Siberian People.

TJ

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