For thousands of years, we lived up north,
in the lands of Ice and snow.
Living in the freezing cold,
where other’s fear to go.
We share a common bond with man,
that bond will never die.
It was forged upon this frozen land,
when we struggled to survive.
I’ll lead you through the darkest night,
and across the harshest lands.
We know you’ll keep us safe at night,
and feed us when you can.
Our hearts are true and given to,
those that understand.
The perfect bond between,
the husky and the Man.
Our bones are scattered along the trail,
as we blazed a path for you.
We lived, we died, we gave our all,
for that’s what Huskies do.
The storm is fierce, in dark of night,
the winds a blowing gale.
We will lead you home again,
the Masters of the trail.
Todd M. Johnson 2016
I spend a lot of time trying to understand why my huskies do just about everything. Some things are easy and then the answer to some behaviors is baffling. Many times it takes several days to put the answer together by eliminating what you do know.
Nikki and Sammie had this fight over a treat, but before that it was brewing anyway. I think part of it is a dominance debate, and part of it is a learned behavior. The dominance behavior is easy to understand as Huskies have a hierarchical pack structure.
Everyone has their place. Someone leads, and the rest follow and that makes sense to me. It’s the way it has been with them for thousands of years. In our case I think it is more than that.
The problem is Nikki and Sammie are both guilty of resource guarding. Now this does not affect us humans as they have never acted aggressive to us over food, toys, or treats. I can reach down and pick up Nikki’s favorite guarded toy and she shows no sign of aggression at all. Same with Sammie so that is a good thing or we would really have problems.
So, I’m sitting around wondering about this one night and it occurs to me that Nikki is small for a husky. I started to wonder if maybe she had to battle for food as a puppy, and maybe was kicked out-of-the-way by bigger siblings during nursing.
I’ve known real children that hoard food because they rarely had food to eat and it left a life long-lasting impression on them. The idea had real possibilities until I remembered seeing all of her siblings at the same time. They were all more or less the same size so I don’t think she was a runt grubbing for a teat.
The answer was right in front of me the whole time. Sammie taught that behavior to Nikki as she grew up. You see Sammie has always kept treats and dared any other dog to take it from her. She would not eat them just keep them in some sort of game. Not a problem until Nikki grew up.
Now where Sammie learned this habit from I have no idea. I got her as a puppy as well as Nikki. It never seemed to have been a problem until Nikki came into her own.
Nikki is the first dog that was willing to fight for it. I believe the combination of learned resource guarding and the urge to move as high in the pack combined… brought it to a head.
Here you have a multiple dog thing to watch out for. A bad habit from one of your other dogs can be learned by your new puppy. It never even occurred to me to watch out for this. Something a puppy learns in that first year is much harder to fix. It becomes part of them, and may never go away.
I have yet to figure out the solution. The obvious choice is to keep them separated during treat and food times. If they don’t eat it…pick it up and don’t give it back. This should teach them they only have one chance to eat it. Better not save it or you miss out.
That is going to be my course of action and see if I can break Sammie of this bad habit as well. If you have any experience with this problem, please speak up. You never stop learning with huskies, and as soon as you think you have it all figured out….wham!
I try to share with you things I’ve learned or am still learning. It should go into the husky file in your head. It might come in handy someday.
Understanding these dogs is a combination of many things, that when mixed together give you an overall picture of what the breed really is. There are variances in each dog but an overall knowledge base can help you in your journey.
I wrote this for anyone who has ever lost a husky.
Spirit of the Husky
When she closed her eyes forever,
another journey had begun.
Her spirit soared across the frozen sky,
to the place where huskies run.
With wings of white upon her back,
like a comet passing by.
Racing towards that holy place,
beyond the midnight sky.
Soon her memories began to fade,
of her life left far behind.
The call of the northern lights,
was etched upon her mind.
At last she crossed the rainbow bridge,
to the place all huskies go.
A land filled with big tall pines,
and fresh unbroken snow.
A place where huskies run and play,
until it’s time to leave.
When one arrives another has to go,
and this you should believe.
Her spirit will cross that bridge once more,
to fly those frozen skies.
Arriving as a new-born pup,
with bright blue husky eyes.
Fear not when you lose a friend,
that one that meant so much.
A husky’s work is never done,
and your soul forever touched.
Again, and again those souls return,
to a place upon this earth.
To share their special gift of love,
for those who earn their worth.
They run and dig, and chase the cat,
but in the snow they fly!
It’s the spirit of your husky,
and that will never die.
Todd M. Johnson © March 7, 2017
You are free to use this for non-commercial purposes.
Today’s topic is feeding your husky. I’m not talking about food that they require to live. I’m talking about something just as important…time and love.
Because I’m a musician I spend a lot of time in my “Man Cave.” Which is my garage or what I call the “Jamatorium.” I write, or practice, or just hang out because it feels home to me being surrounded by implements of destruction. Amps, drums, guitars, loud PA system to play back tunes.
Music has always been a way for me to unwind. I can beat some drums to Led Zeppelin and when I’m done I feel so much better. All those idiots hell-bent on getting to work even if they kill someone else or them on the commute seem to fade away. I’m still alive in spite of their attempts to kill me on the road.
I spend an hour each way to get to and from work. Two extra hours in my day to pay the bills because…well I chose it. Nobody’s perfect but it works out, that is the price I pay to have this job which pays for my dogs wellbeing besides our own needs.
Many of you work as well, in fact most of us do, but we took on these complicated partners called Siberian Huskies.
Huskies have many demands that need to be met. But have you ever stopped to see the life you give them through their eyes? We demand a lot out of them so that they can fit into our schedules and life style.
They do not complain unless it is unbearable for them. They don’t bitch, they might eat your couch because that is the only way they can tell us they are unhappy. Huskies in my opinion howl when they are upset. Sure they might howl at a siren, but the howl of loneliness is a very distinct one.
Because of my garage habits I’ve had much time to observe my dogs. I didn’t just look at them from time to time…I looked at them like a scientist would. I observed and recorded in my head how they react and treat each other.
I think I have a pretty good handle on how they act. I call this “Quality Time.” It’s quality because I learn about them, and its quality for them because they want to be with me. I think they want to learn about me as much as I do about them. It may be in their own way, but still I see it in their eyes when they look at me putting together some IKEA furniture or some other project like putting a sled together.
They get in the way and sniff everything. They lay on the parts, and grin because they are happy to be sharing time with me. They are enjoying our time together even if it makes no sense to them.
Its quality time for both of us. We learn and we grow closer because of that. I don’t get home from work and give them a pat on the head and then spend the next 4 hours watching re-runs of Judge Judy. I spend time with them.
They might have spent 8 hours in a crate while you were at work. You need to be a good partner and reward that with the thing they want most…your attention to them and their needs for exercise etc.
Huskies demand a lot, but they also give more than we do. They live in hot climates, they are stuffed in crates, they are neglected, but still they remain true. They cannot pick their boss any more than we can in our own jobs.
Spend all the quality time you can with them. It will only make you closer and the bond stronger. Your husky will be gone before you know it. Don’t look back and wish you would have spent more time with them while they were here.
Do it now, and every day for the sands of time run faster than you think!
No regrets, that is what I want to have when mine pass over the Rainbow Bridge. Feed them the love they need, they give their all for you in so many ways we don’t even think about.
Look at the world you give them through their eyes. Are you good enough for a husky? I hope in the end that I held up my end of this partnership.
They give me their entire lives… that’s worth some of my precious time.
Since most of you don’t really talk about daily life with your huskies I’m left to fill you in on mine. It might be interesting or boring depending on the day.
I’ve talked about the many levels of husky ownership before. We all have our own family units and different lifestyles. The thing we have in common is the love for our huskies. Some, if not all of you are happy at your level and that is so wonderful!
Then there are some who just can’t get enough like me. Every time I see a puppy picture I want to buy that dog! I’ve given this sickness a name, “Husky Acquisition Syndrome or (HAS) for short. It’s a terrible thing to have!
I often dream of a thousand acres of pine forest and trails I own. Huskies running free and all of us running sleds and bikes and just plain exploring and enjoying life. I would truly love that more than winning the lottery…but if I did you know what I’d be spending it on.
I’m involved in lots of husky things. My fascination with Leonhard Seppala and his dogs drives me to a higher levels than most of you. What he did either with luck or divine wisdom was breed the dogs that now are all over this world. The Siberian Husky in all his varied colors and personalities have spread out just about everywhere.
The original direct line of Seppala Siberian Sled Dogs (SSSD) has been kept going for over 100 years by a few people who wanted to preserve this original working line. They did their best, and some spent their entire lives trying. That’s how strongly they felt about these dogs. That is another level that most don’t achieve.
With declining numbers, the dogs have been inbred a great deal to keep the bloodline alive. Eventually this runs out. Health issues show up and attrition reduces the numbers of breeding pairs. Many have given up and say the line is dead or about dead.
This is true and why I’ve become involved in a new project with Jonathan Nathaniel Hayes and his kennel. Poland Spring Kennel in Fort Kent, Maine.
If you are a history buff of Leonhard Seppala you will immediately recognize the name “Poland Spring.” This is the first place in the lower 48 Leonhard Seppala brought his new breed of dogs.
“Leonhard Seppala brought his dog sled team of Siberian Husky’s to Maine in 1927 during a tour of the United States.
He and his dog team were part of a famous serum run in Alaska known as the Great Race of Mercy that used dog sled teams to deliver an emergency supply of diphtheria serum to Nome in 1925.
His team raced Arthur Walden’s Chinook team of New Hampshire at Poland Spring in 1927.
Seppala’s dogs won the race. Seppala and Elizabeth Ricker, wife of the Poland Spring Hotel manager and a “musher” herself, started a kennel breeding these Seppala Siberian sled dogs at Poland Spring.” https://www.mainememory.net/artifact/20920
The Seppala Husky traits are a dog that is more loving and bonded to the owner than a normal husky. A dog that has an unquenchable desire to pull and work. A friendly dog who gets along better with his/her teammates than a normal husky does. They do not look exactly the same as well. A practiced eye can pick out a Seppala if you know what to look for.
Seppalas don’t exactly look like the modern-day Siberian, and they have different traits as well. They are the performance dogs of the breed you and I enjoy now. If you could follow your dog’s pedigree back all the way…you would find him or her line ending at Togo and Fritz and many others of those original dogs Seppala bred. All of our Siberians share this.
So where am I going with all this?
Well I’m following my heart. I’m going to help do what I can to move the project to a happy conclusion. Not everyone wants a working dog that rips your arms out of their sockets. But some do, some still want to race even though they will never compete with the speed of Alaskan huskies (See Iditarod.) But that does not mean they are not without value. In mid distance races they are very competitive to this day.
I really don’t care so much about the racing part. But it is what they do, and how they are tested. It is what they are. They are Seppalas, the true decendants from the 1925 Serum run to save Nome. But race or no, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to help.
Some people are proud to have a classic car because of its history not its speed. I guess I’m one of those people, I’d rather have a yard full of Seppala dogs than one full of mutts only bred for speed no matter what they look or act like.
The goal is to bring them back to prominence. It won’t be fast or easy but in time I think it will happen. It will happen because those who have been around these dogs find out how special they really are. Seppala Siberian Sled Dogs… a breed unto itself based on history and their unique traits as working dogs.
So if you are going to buy another husky at some point, why not consider a Seppala?
For the breed to survive it needs owners. They are not for everyone, but for some they are the only thing that will do.
The first step has been taken. And that is to add dogs to the kennel. From here we work towards a new future for the Seppalas.
I hope you will join us on this journey.
You can read more about the Poland Spring Kennel here: http://www.polandspringseppalas.com/3.html
The Husky is one of those creatures that will judge you by your actions. If you treat him well, you will receive his undying loyalty. Treat him badly and you will never see him again. To me these dogs have an uncanny ability to reason out things about the world that other dogs do not. They are not programmed robots or slaves. They are at ease in almost all situations that make other dogs go insane.
They are Intelligent enough to use reason first, and not training that was beaten into them. In fact, trying to force a Husky to do anything is a complete waste of time. They will only do what you ask if they trust you. Having a Husky work for you is more of a partnership than a dumb beast of burden.
In spite of their wanderlust and the free spirit that drives them. They want to be part of the pack. They hate being left alone more than any other dogs I have ever known. The will to travel and see new things is strong in them. They are like our forefathers who blazed unknown trails seeking adventures unknown. That is what is in a Huskies heart, and what made him such a valuable member to the gold miners, and adventurers for many years.
The Husky is willing to work hard all day for those in his pack. All he asks is some food in his belly and not to be left alone. Willing to strike the trail whether it be snow or asphalt. It’s taken me several years of observation to make these claims. I believe they are right as rain. They crave companionship, dogs and humans.
Huskies and man needed each other to survive the unforgiving frozen lands of the north. That bond was developed over thousands of years. It was a family that took care of each other and thus ensured their individual survival.
Sadly, the wild places are almost gone. I fear the Huskies days are numbered in his pure form. He will lose the wild spirit and become another lap dog who watches T.V. The urge to pull and travel long-lost from his genetic makeup.
The Husky is being over-bred and slowly losing those traits that make them what they were meant to be. Being bred to be lap dogs and fluffy eye candy with many genetic faults like epilepsy.
You can have no truer member of your family than this creature in his pure form. I’m going to do my best to keep that spirit alive. Be it paved roads or dirt trails, my dogs will run like they’ve done for thousands of years. I don’t want to see working huskies vanish from the world, at least not the one I live in.