Whenever I get a thought or two… I sit down and write. I hope that you find something you can learn or apply to your own husky.
Today’s post is about staying engaged. You see staying engaged with your husky is one of the hardest things to maintain. The longer you are together the easier it is to get lazy and begin to slack in your side of the partnership.
Hey it’s easy to do…life happens for us, and sometimes we get tired, or stressed, or any number of things that can take us away from the time we dedicated to our huskies. We do it to our own spouse and children, and we do it to our dogs as well. In fact, dogs are the first ones to be cast aside when life happens for humans.
Huskies, like all dogs live short lives compared to us. They have high energy requirements that need to be met regardless of how tired we are. I’ve walked my dogs in the freezing rain, and when my back hurt, and a lot of other times when I didn’t want to. Luckily my wife helps out, and that makes it easier for both of us when you have multiple huskies.
I tell myself I signed up for this, and I’m not going to let my partners (3 Huskies) down. Sometimes that is very hard to do, because I hurt or the weather sucks or whatever. The husky doesn’t understand any of those things in our world. They give us everything they have, and want the same commitment in return.
That’s why I always call it a partnership.
I don’t think anyone actually owns a husky, except maybe in legal terms. You are partners, and both of you have to do the best you can even when times get tough.
Working together to get through a tough time can strengthen the bond between you. It’s how you learn to understand this amazing dog. You do it by being engaged, and look at them with an open mind. You take mental notes of how they act for every situation.
So, I get out in the rain, and the snow, and the freezing cold when I have to. I spend the money for vet care, I think of my dogs first before me. For without me, they cannot even open a can of food.
They are my partners in life, and they won’t be here forever. I want to be the best partner I can while they are with me. I want to know everything I can about them. The Siberian people are a fascinating race that deserves to be understood the best ways we know how.
I want to make up for all the bad owners in the world, the abusers, the losers that give us a bad name to dogs. I wouldn’t anymore leave my dogs in a flood than I would my kids (See Texas.)
Stay engaged, enjoy the good and bad days…your husky partner will help you in their own way.
I don’t think there is any other dog on earth quite like a husky. Huskies are truly special in so many ways, you just have to experience it. If you don’t… that potential in your partner will never come to the surface.
You will have missed an opportunity to truly understand that they are so much more than, “Just a Dog.”
When you have a husky or three like I do… every day is an adventure. Just when you think you have it all figured out, Murphy and his law show up to remind you how little you know about how the universe works.
This morning I got up a bit later than normal because I was teleworking. 06:00 instead of 04:30. This gave me plenty of time to take Cooper and Stinky on a walk. All was going well, getting them into their harness, and soon we headed out. I was be-bopping along enjoying the cooler air. I had no idea that all hell was about to break loose.
Not having gone far, Stinky got her lead tangled and decided to pull like a tractor. Her old worn out easy-walk harness broke, and became tangled around her rear legs.
I tried to grab her, and wrap the leash around her neck. The Queen was not having any of this non-sense from a servant and went full born bucking bronco and busted loose. While I was wrestling with the Queen, Cooper yanked the leash out of my hand and went trotting up the block free as a bird.
Suddenly I was on my knees with no dogs and one broken harness and leash! The Gods were definitely not smiling down on me that morning. I suppose I committed some infraction in the eyes of the Devine husky God, and in so doing was to be punished appropriately.
Keep in mind this all happened at the worst possible location. Which was in front of a neighbor who owns two Mastiffs, and believes they should not be fenced or tied…because they are special.
Okay back to the story. So, I’m standing there with this leash and broken harness. I yell at Cooper to come back, and to my surprise he comes trotting back down the block to me. That gives me a small sense of hope that I can recover my dogs.
Nikki (Or Stinky I call her) came running up at Zoomie speed. She was happy as a clam to jump on Cooper’s face with both paws and say, “I’m Free…I’m free!” I made a desperate lunge to snatch her majesty and she bolted.
Actually, this is a very dangerous situation I’m in. Nikki is 11 months old and running free. Not the least bit afraid of cars, dogs, people, or much else.
She runs right up to the back yard of the mastiffs, and I’m expecting to hear a dog being killed as I call her. Cooper is being good and has the wisdom to realize that I’m not happy at what’s going on.
Chasing a loose husky is a fool’s game unless you suddenly have four legs and world-class sprinter muscles. I can’t catch Nikki so I start walking back the way I came…calling her. I had to be an actor and play like she was being left behind.
The black and white tornado comes flying after us but not close enough for me to loop her with a leash. I have no choice but to continue on, and call her to follow. This she does… but not without going to every back yard, the woods, and everywhere else to investigate her freedom.
At this point, the whole neighborhood full of dogs that are in an uproar caused by Stinky invading their sacred lands. Incensed that a black and white Queen runs free on their property, and they cannot repel the brazen invader.
I’m sweating like a pig, and hoping she doesn’t get killed, or decide to run off through the woods never to be seen again! Sweat trickles down the sides of my neck from nerves not heat. Now in most cases like this I would have got on my cell phone and called the wife to come help.
Guess what? That’s right, this was the morning I had to forget it on the kitchen counter! Murphy was giving me a long lesson in how his laws can multiple into a disaster! Something I’ve never forgotten again is my phone.
I have no choice but to continue on calling her as me and Cooper head for home. Nikki disappears behind a house and I hear another dog barking. From 30 yards, away, I try and convince her to leave that dog in the fence but she isn’t listening to me. Just then the neighbor opens her door to let her dog out for a morning squirt. No leash of course because her dog is special as well.
Nikki goes to meet this new dog and scares the crap out of it. I hear sounds like a dog being killed. I can’t see because of the bushes. When I can see the woman in her pajama’s looking shocked at me and the mad Queen I notice that it’s a little dog who came out to pee and found a Husky instead!
I’m running down to her front porch with Cooper in tow and yelling, hoping that Nikki is not trying to kill this dog, or vice versa.
Fortunately, when I get to the woman in the robe at the front door, no one is being killed even though both dogs are making enough noise to make the whole neighborhood think that.
I tell the woman to grab Stinky for me and toss her the leash. Stinky is so happy to have some new friends that she gets a lasso around her neck without incident. Except now I’m fighting with Cooper because all the dog screaming has got him worked up. He has decided enough and he wants to play or eat all dogs in the general area!
The woman passes me the leash with the corralled Queen Nikki. I head for the street with two worked up Huskies wanting to pull my arms off. I thank her when we reach the street, and off we go for home.
All of this happened within 10 minutes of starting our walk. I only had one cup of coffee, and got thrown into this mess.
I swear it was not the best way to start the day.
But in the end, nobody was hurt, and I didn’t lose my dogs. Huskies sometimes get loose, and they are long gone. At least Cooper came back to me when I called him. That may not seem like a big deal to most of you. But for a Husky that is pretty amazing and I’m so glad he did.
Remember to expect the unexpected! For it will strike when you least expect it.
The moral of this story is: “Check your equipment every day!
Lessons from life with a husky.
This is a story about fence building. It was taught to me by none other than Sammie our 10-year-old girl who likes to stay on the deck in her retirement days. Now she doesn’t cause any trouble, but that’s not how it used to be.
In her prime Sammie was truly an artist at escape. Even today she will occasionally show she hasn’t lost the skills that she excelled at for all of these years. I learned how to build an almost escape proof fence due to her.
When she was a pup back in Oklahoma, she quickly let us know that a solid wood privacy fence 6 feet tall was not enough. It kept my lab/pit mix contained but it was small potatoes to a husky of her abilities. It wasn’t long before she tunneled out with digging skills that would make a back hoe jealous.
We are talking red, sun baked Oklahoma clay. It almost equals concrete if you try and dig it with anything other than powered equipment. Not much to Sammie, she dug an escape hole and was gone.
I will give her credit for sticking around. Whether it was the dogs next door or the fact you can’t really escape Oklahoma that made her stick is hard to say. But we nabbed her fairly soon and so the next thing I did was try invisible fence and shock collars.
I ran the wire around the bottom of the fence, put these expensive collars on Sammie and Two-Socks and felt I’d solved the problem with technology. I was soon proven wrong.
True, it worked for a couple of days as Sammie studied the problem of her collar giving her a buzz when she approached the fence. I guess she figured out the collars were the problem so with husky teeth she somehow sliced her collar free and then sliced off Two-Socks collar as well just for good measure.
Apparently, this extra annoyance and work I caused her made her chew the electronic boxes on the collar into so much scrap metal and plastic. That collar wouldn’t get her again!
Another quick dig and she was gone once more. And once again realizing that she was still in Oklahoma, even after such a great escape kept her easy to find. She had not solved the Oklahoma problem yet. I really couldn’t blame her because nobody actually wants to stay in Oklahoma. It’s like a black hole and even if you are born there the need to escape is strong…there has to be a better place somewhere over the rainbow!
My next effort was more power (Tim the tool man type power.) I bought real electric fence wire, and ran it around the bottom of the wood fence with insulators to keep her from digging out. Growing up in Nebraska I was familiar with electric fences but I didn’t want to hurt her. Fortunately, they make a fence charger for dogs. Not anywhere near the power a cattle fence has.
This in fact stopped her for quite a few months. But her mind never stopped working on the problem. The solution was to get Two-Socks the lab/pit mix so worked up at the neighbor dog that she ate a hole through the wood fence.
Sammie scooted through and left old Two-socks behind. Two-socks was too big to get through the hole but Sammie made it easy. Once again Oklahoma saved me. Sammie still couldn’t drive or hitch out of the state so she was captured easily. Then we moved, and the game was once more afoot!
We moved from Oklahoma to Virginia. With two cars, my job was to take all three cats with me. A painful ride of two full days with crying cats in the car. My wife would follow a few days later after the movers had packed up things. Her job was to drive out with the two dogs.
My wife stopped in Wichita Kansas to see her mom on the way. The dogs could stay in the back yard because it was privacy fenced except for the gate. A five-foot-tall chain link thing that would make a husky laugh.
I got a call from my wife in a panic. Sammie had escaped and was nowhere to be found! The problem of Oklahoma no longer in her mind, and she took off for better pastures. Now these pastures included her crossing several high-ways and busy streets. Miles away she was captured by the humane society.
My wife would not leave without finding Ms. Sammie. Luckily, she was micro-chipped and there is only one dog pound in Wichita. She was retrieved the next day, and soon back on her way to Virginia. Sammie had not liked the pound, and actually was good for the rest of the trip.
She found her new yard and home to be acceptable here. As soon as the memories of the pound wore off the old habits returned. Houdini was at it again!
Sammie could slide under the fence with ease. But she had learned the pound was not a place for her. She stuck around after a successful escape. Going up on the deck and barking at the sliding glass door. We opened it and she smiles and seems to say, “Look at me!”
When I bought a new fence for this place I spent a bundle on it. It works but I still have a small area of old fence that she quickly found was the weak spot. Many a time she would be on the deck 5 minutes after we let her outside. I’ve filled many holes with cut firewood to block the tunnels but she always dug more.
Luckily as she has aged the need to prove her skills has waned. She is happy on her deck but occasionally she will prove that she still has it.
The photo is of a gate we put up in the basement. It has an opening for the cats to pass through. Sam could easily have jumped this back in the day but now not so much. Instead she can squeeze through this tiny opening!
I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t caught her half-way through the other night!
The opening is 10” tall by 7” wide. A 45-pound female husky squeezed right through it like it was a joke!
Never underestimate a husky!
Master Yoda said, “The Prey Drive is strong in this one!” It is a famous quote from one of the Star Wars movies or maybe that is just what I heard in my head after crashing my mountain bike.
It all happened last fall, you see Cooper and I were rolling down the asphalt trail. The trees were all golden and red in their fall glory. The sun was going down, and there wasn’t anyone in sight. I was enjoying the ride behind my big boy Coop.
My bike is pretty much silent and the only noise in the air was coming from Coopers 4 feet touching the asphalt in a nice lope, along with the jingle of his dog tags hanging from his collar. I was sight-seeing and enjoying the ride.
Cooper was enjoying it as well. His ears were perked up, and his head swiveling from side to side as we rolled. He was doing what he was meant to do and he loved it! Running along seeing new things, pulling me was just a minor inconvenience to him.
We rounded the corner and started up this gradual hill. No big thing for him, and he kept running like a machine. I was looking around and day dreaming a bit. I’ve since learned that is not recommended when you are being towed by a husky.
Huskies live in the moment. They are hardwired in many ways from their DNA. One of those ways is to be an opportunistic hunter of furry things smaller than them. I’m not talking about the family cat that he has been chased away from for so long he learned to leave it alone.
I’m talking about game…furry little game that looks like a squeaky toy that needs the stuffing ripped out.
As we topped the hill I noticed the intersection was clear and let him roll on. Little did I know a few yards ahead of us was a furry little tree rat on a suicide mission.
Squirrels have a tendency to be nuts in many situations. Maybe because that is mostly what they eat? I don’t know, but this one had a plan no matter how stupid it was.
As we approached the intersection at a good clip he chose that precise moment to try and dart in front of us and cross the road! Now Cooper was on point, and doing his thing like he’d been trained. But when that furry rat ran in front of him the DNA kicked in. A meal on furry wheels had just arrived!
Realizing his bad timing the rodent did a 180 degree turn and tried to disappear into the ditch foliage. The only problem was Cooper was after that furry little snack.!
The fact that Cooper was attached to my bike didn’t seem to matter much to him. Like I said, I’m just along for the ride as far as he is concerned. I’m too slow to be of any use without wheels so I can keep up with him.
I had almost 1.5 seconds to apply both brakes. I was 1 second to slow and my bike and me where yanked off the road and into the ditch.
Luckily for me it was nice soft muddy ground and I sustained no damage. The bike and me lying on our sides was a bit too much for him to drag us into the underbrush after the squirrel.
The squirrel escaped, and then Cooper came back and looked down at me. “Why are you down there?” was what his eyes asked.
I picked myself back up and we hit the road again. I was happy to report back home in one piece.
The lesson: When you are running with dogs…don’t day dream because when you do bad things happen!
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,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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