This post is certainly close to my heart! It references my 2 awesome pups, Loki and Leia! They were both rescue pups and in desperate need of love and care. They are now both as healthy and happy as can be and I feel overwhelmingly fortunate to have found them! Here’s a few things they have taught me, along with some other interesting facts about Huskies:
1 Huskies make great escape artists! I learned this first hand with my girl, Leia. When I first got her, she was very anxious and had extreme separation anxiety – so much so I would return to the house to have various pieces of furniture torn up! I had to crate train her to get her used to being on her own. She’d be secure in there, right? Wrong! She escaped the locked crate multiple times. I still have no idea how; my best guess is she pried open a gap large enough for her to squeeze through.
I eventually had to zip tie all along the gate and this finally kept her in. The good news is she does not need a crate anymore, and is free to roam the house while I am gone 🙂
Huskies are also very good diggers – and can dig under a fence in minutes! It is best not to leave one unattended for too long outside. They are a very curious breed.
2 Huskies were bred for extremely cold climates. Well no duh! I mean they pull sleds in the snow 😉 The main reason a Husky can handle the cold so well is due to their fabled double layer coat. A blessing (for them) and a curse (for me)!
The top coat is composed of long, thick guard hairs, providing protection for the coat and skin. It repels water, and is able to hold in body heat during cold weather. The other thing it does is to block UV Rays from the Sun. This is primarily the reason you should NEVER shave a Husky! Trust me you’re not doing them any favors.
The undercoat is a soft and downy coat to insulate the pup, and there’s plenty of it! This is something I can definitely attest to. Huskies shed their undercoats twice per yer, and when they do, you’d best be prepared to groom them and vacuum every day! Hair balls! Good to note, that in summer, the undercoat is significantly thinner than it is in winter months, hence their shed in fall is a lot more manageable.
Apart from their coat, Huskies also possess some other nifty little attributes. Such as fur on their toes, excellent claws for gripping onto icy ground, and a very good digging skill that allows them to burrow little holes in the snow where they can shelter themselves from cold winds.
3 Huskies require a lot of owner interaction. We all probably know how crazy and high energy Huskies can be, hey, it’s one of the reasons I got 2, so they can wear each other out 🙂 But aside from the high energy, Huskies require a lot of personal interaction with their pack leader.
They are a very smart breed and enjoy mental stimulation in the form of training almost as much as a road trip! Huskies are extremely pack orientated and like to feel part of the family, which is how I treat them. They both hop on the bed at night and sleep next to me.
The interaction is not just one way. Huskies will regularly talk back to you almost arguing with you until they get their way 🙂
If you are considering adopting a Husky, please be prepared to put the time and effort in to developing them to be confident, happy pups. A lack of both physical and mental stimulation will lead to unwanted behavior like accidents in the house, barking (mostly howling!), excessive digging – and if you’re really unlucky, your furniture in pieces!
The fact that many do not understand this, is one of the main reasons so many of these amazing dogs wind up in an animal shelter 🙁
4Huskies were responsible for saving an entire town. Well at least partly! And a big part at that. The town in question is Nome, Alaska (Population: ~2,000). A brutal epidemic of diphtheria was spreading across the country in 1925, and Nome was next on the list. It’s 2,000 residents plus an estimated 10,000 total people from Nome and surrounding areas were at risk, with a fatality estimate of up to 100%.
There was no antitoxin available, and whereas the antitoxin could be transported to a relatively nearby town of Nenana, this was still almost 700 miles away from Nome, and no roads or means of getting the antitoxin there.
Huskies to the rescue! More than 20 mushers took part, forming a relay team to traverses the 674 mile journey. The final leg of the journey proved the most hazardous. It was done in pitch dark through an extreme blizzard with temps hovering around -25 F. The only way the musher, Gunnar Kaasen, could find his way, was to trust in his sled dog team, and in particular a Husky named Balto – who was able to keep on track despite almost zero visibility.
Both Balto and Kaasen were declared heroes. Balto can be seen depicted in many natural history museums and there is a large bronze statue of Balto in Central Park, NY. There is even an animated film based on the events and Balto’s heroic actions!
5A Husky’s energy is unlimited! I can testify to this. However, the extent of a Husky’s energy is unknown. When we run or exercise, our bodies burn through macro-nutrients until our body is too fatigued to carry on. Or in my case, when lunch hour is up.
Husky’s have the ability to actually change their metabolism, so they can run, or play, for far too long! An associate professor of veterinary physiology, Dr. Michael S. Davis, describes the process as:
Before the race, the dogs’ metabolic makeup is similar to humans. Then suddenly they throw a switch — we don’t know what it is yet — that reverses all of that. [Source: nytimes.com]
Let’s put they’re tested energy levels into context. The most famous sled pulling race of all is the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. This race is a punishing 1,100 mile trek. The record time was just set in 2016 by Dallas Seavey, at an amazing 8 days, 11 hours, 20 minutes and 16 seconds! Putting this into perspective, that’s over 120 miles per day and an average speed of 5.5 mph over 8 and a half days, if the pups didn’t stop!
I really hope we can figure out how to apply a Husky’s metabolism to our lives – Dr. Davis was awarded a $1.4 million dollar grant in 2003 to do just that!
6A Husky’s color palette is interesting and varied. And by color palette, of course I’m referring to their coat, nose and eye color. Their nose color is actually dependent on their coat color. Their nose is black in gray and white, black, and tan dogs, liver colored accompanies a copper coat, and pure white Huskies will have a flesh-colored nose.
As for the color of the coat, there are many different tones that fall within the major color classifications above. Agouti, Saddleback, Splash Coat and Piebald are some of the lesser known coat colors for Huskies.
And those magnificent eyes! Typical eye colors are blue or brown, with both amber and green possible. Many people relate a gray Husky with blue eyes to resemble a Wolf. In reality, Wolves do not have blue eyes – so if you see a Wolf looking dog with blue eyes, good chance it’s a Husky!
There are 2 variations to a Husky’s eye color. They can actually have one eye, that’s different colors! This is known as “Parti-eyed”. A Husky can also possess different colored eyes altogether! Typically one blue, one brown eye. This is a result of a genetic default known as Heterochromia iridis. It is more common in the dog world, but can also affect humans too.
7 Huskies don’t make the best guard dogs. Despite their wolfish attributes and often 60 lb frames, Huskies are probably one of the most gentle breed of dogs you could encounter – at least to humans and other dogs. If there’s a cat or squirrel in my yard, all bets are off.
Huskies are naturally curious and friendly. My two are very alert, so you could say they do make better watch dogs than guard dogs. Although their alertness is usually recruited when they believe a friend is outside or at the door. And by friend I mean total stranger.
In saying all of this, there are always exceptions to the rule. So just because a dog is a Husky, don’t assume you can run up to him or her and be besties. It’s in a Husky’s nature to be friendly and gentle, but any dog can be trained to be something other than what’s natural to them.
Huskies require a lot of upfront investment, in time, and patience lol. But they are worth it! They’re unique personalities and perfectly tempered demeanor make them a truly great companion in life. Id love to hear some of your stories or experiences about Huskies! Please feel free to share in the comments below.