Siberian Husky Breed Magazine - Showsight

Revs competing in Barn Hunt. Photo © Dean Lake Photography

Cricket & her UCP friends. Photo © Katie Fleming

training are humanely handled and safely confined in aerated PVC tubes. To find out more about competing in Barn Hunts, check out their website: “Siberians are an amazingly versatile breed,” said Revs’ owner, Patty Van Sicklen, who also competes in conformation, obedi- ence, agility, coursing ability and rally obe- dience with Revs, as well as doing therapy dog work with him. “I took Revs to a barn hunt practice where he had to search out hidden rat containers and not be distracted by decoy tubes containing rat litter or all the sounds and smells of a real working barn.” “We did three good practice runs, then I brushed the straw from his fur, washed his paws, wiped him down with disinfectant, and drove to Ronald McDonald House for pet therapy. Th e dog that had been intent- ly digging between hay bales less than an hour before stood calmly among a group of children, giving kisses and gentle high fives,” Van Sicklen said. Speaking of therapy work, Siberian Hus- kies are wonderful at that, too. Many Siberi- an owners share their dogs on a regular basis in schools, nursing homes and other facili- ties where a dog’s special touch is needed. Mondays are special for three-year old Cricket, whose registered name is Hilltop’s Summer Song at Northgate, BN, CGCA, TT, RN, THD. From the time she and her owner, Katie Fleming, back out of the drive- way, she knows it is time to visit her friends at United Cerebral Palsy of South Carolina and her tail wags continuously. Katie and Cricket are active in rally and obedience, but according to Katie, it’s the therapy work they do that lights Cricket up the most.

Th e Development Coordinator with UCP of SC requested therapy visits through the local Th erapy Dogs International group in 2013. Cricket began her journey with UCP in Columbia, SC in August of that year with just a quick in-and-out to say “hi” to the UCP clients and sta ff . Cricket interacts with people having di ff ering levels of ability. Some are able to communicate verbally, some are not. Some can reach out to touch her furry coat; others can be helped to do so. Some are ambulatory and others are confined to wheelchairs. During the first month, the sta ff liaison would ask them to describe Cricket. Simple words like “soft” or “nice” came easily for some, while others simply looked on. As the friendships grew and the regulars learned that she is a Siberian, they learned about what her job would be—pulling a sled. Words became longer and more complex— “brave, adorable, precious, incredible.” Th ey learned that her coat is huge and fuzzy and sometimes sheds a lot. Th ey heard the story of her broken leg that healed crookedly. Cricket’s friends look forward to her vis- its. Every week Nate is waiting and ready to help Cricket perform tricks, giving her hand signals and commands. Bill and Alecia treat Cricket to their versions of songs—every- thing from the Wizard of Oz to Sunday hymns. Cricket listens to each and nods her fuzzy head in appreciation. Danny has taught Cricket to climb up on the wheels of his wheelchair for a kiss. During a visit one Monday, the UCP cli- ents were working on an art project. Many did well just to hold the crayons to the

paper, and struggled to make their hands do the bidding of their brains. As Cricket and Katie were ready to leave, Danny’s arm, usually sti ff , shot up into the air. Th inking that he wanted to say goodbye to Cricket, they walked back toward his table. He thrust his paper up proudly. In bold purple marker he had written “Cricket is Boss.” An enormous smile covered his face, and Katie says an overpowering sense of humility hit her heart. Cricket has a number of obedience and rally titles to her credit, but according to Katie, no accom- plishment compares to the honor of receiv- ing Danny’s note. Whether it’s sharing your Siberian through therapy dog programs, hiking, sledding, dryland mushing, coursing apti- tude, tracking, barn hunting, rally, obedi- ence, agility, conformation or just having the most beautiful walking partner, life with a Siberian Husky will never be dull. And if you decide to add a Siberian to your life, networking with other Siberian owners will put you on the fast track to furry fun! With contributions from Patty Van Sicklen, Susan Lavin, TC Wait, Sheila Goffe and Katie Fleming. BIO Sandy Weaver Carman has had Sibe- rian Huskies for over 35 years and has bred numerous Champions, obedience titled dogs, agility titled dogs and Work- ing Pack titled dogs, in addition to breed- ing several talented therapy dogs. She is the current Education Coordinator for the Siberian Husky Club of America and promotes the growth of dog sports through dog club seminars.

S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M AY 2014 • 227

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