Showsight Presents the Siberian Husky

“Shortly thereafter, I moved to Virgin- ia, where I barely knew anyone. Now that I was out of New York and had a backyard, the first thing I wanted to do was get a dog. It wasn’t long before I found Wolfie, a year- old Siberian Husky who had been taken from a bad situation and wound up in a local shelter. ‘You’ve shown a lot of interest in him, which is good,’ the shelter worker told me during the final adoption arrange- ments. ‘But I’ve got to warn you, Siberian Huskies need a lot of exercise. And adoles- cent males can be very destructive if they don’t get enough exercise.’ “I assured her we were up for the challenge, and my husband and I brought home our beautiful, energetic puppy that afternoon. “His first day, Wolfie ate the doctoral dissertation notes I’d left on my desk. A few days later, he put a hole, several feet wide, in my kitchen floor. Th is boy clear- ly needed a release for some of that ener- gy or we’d all be in trouble. We started visiting the local dog park every morn- ing. Th ere I met a nice couple with two Siberians. I asked for advice, and they invited me to join the local breed club. I’d never been to a dog club meeting, but I decided to give it a try. “My initiation was a five-mile hike, at a nature preserve with 20 people and their dogs. Some of the dogs were carrying little backpacks. Th rough the club, I learned about a program with the Siberian Husky “...being out on the trail with your best friends, enjoying the grandeur and solitude of nature, nurtures the human body and soul and IS WHAT THE SIBERIAN HUSKY WAS DESIGNED TO DO.”

Photo © Aaron Zieschang

saving lives of many residents. But the working heritage of the Siberian goes back much farther than just their North Ameri- can roots: remains of sled dogs in harnesses have been found in eastern Russia that have been dated at 8,000 years old. It is from that region of the planet that the Siberians who participated in the Gold Rush, the Nome Serum Run and who dominated sled dog racing for decades hailed. Today, Siberian Huskies compete in sled dog races all over the world. Th ey compete in sprint races, mid-distance rac- es, as well as long distance races, includ- ing the Iditarod. However, many people just run their dogs for pleasure. According to Susan Lavin, whose dogs are competi- tive in both the show ring and in sled dog races, being out on the trail with your best friends, enjoying the grandeur and soli- tude of nature, nurtures the human body and soul and is what the Siberian Husky was designed to do. It’s easy to see their instincts in action, as well as their pure joy, when they’re running together in front of a sled. Typically, a sled dog team consists of four or more dogs pulling a sled on snow, or 1-2 dogs pulling a cross country skier (skijoring). Most races o ff er both sledding and skijoring events. For those people who have smaller numbers of Siberians, or who don’t live in an area that gets a lot of snow, dryland mushing is a dog-powered sport to consid- er. Th ere are numerous dryland events that

anyone can do, such as canicross (running or walking with a dog in harness), biking, scootering, or carting. Th e experience of working with your dog as a team is the same, regardless of whether you are on a snow or dirt trail. While you don’t have to run your dog in harness, you’ll be delight- ed to watch your furry friend’s pure glee if you do. For help getting started, contact mushing clubs in your area. • www.sleddogcentral.com/clubs_usa.htm • www.mushing.com/resources/clublist. php?name=&regionid=0&page=1 An easier and less equipment-intensive way to get out and play with your dog in nature is pack-hiking. One of the great things about pack hiking is that it’s an activity you can share with your dog at almost any life stage. You can tailor it to your interests, experience, and energy level. Virtually anyone or any breed can do it, and Siberian Huskies generally excel at it. Sheila Go ff e, head of the Legislative Department at AKC, tells the story of how she got interested in Siberian Hus- kies, pack hiking and eventually many other aspects of life and competition in the world of dog sports. “In the early 1990s, if you’d told me I’d be out in the woods backpacking with my dogs, I never would have believed it. Sure, I liked hiking, and I loved dogs, but I lived in New York City and putting a backpack on some poor dog seemed distinctly ‘uncool.’

S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M AY 2014 • 225

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