The Retirement Life Of Alaskan Huskies – Adopting A Sled Dog

Until just over four years ago we had a rather lovely border collie as part of our family until he went to chase squirrels and balls over the rainbow bridge aged twelve years old :-(. It was not long after this that we moved to Sweden and any thoughts of a new fur baby were put out of our heads as we adjusted to life in a new country and living abroad.  Forward wind some years later and my fascination with the Arctic, the arctic winter, and adventure led me to the doors of Arctic Adventure Tours as I signed up for their week long dog sledding expedition dog sledding expedition.  I spent the most amazing week out in the arctic nature enjoying the company of their wonderful, kind, and hard working Alaskan huskies, as a team of them hauled my sledge for a week.  It was, without a doubt, one of the best experiences of my life, and at the end of the week I was so sad to say goodbye to my team of dogs, the thrill of riding a dog sled, and the simplicity of being out in the arctic winter living in a tent.  

Leap forward just over another eighteen months and on the Arctic Adventure Tours Instagram (I am an avid follower) there was a request for anyone wishing to rehome one of their beautiful Alaskan huskies to get in touch.  Corona virus was affecting many lives in many different ways, and tourist-reliant businesses were no exception.  I chatted to Dadda and we tentatively wrote an email reaching out for more information about the Alaskan huskies, whilst at the same time giving them information about us so they could judge if we were suitable or not for one of their dogs.  

It is at this point you might think, “how could we adopt a dog we had never met or introduced our children to”?  The answer to this question, for us, was very simple.  The dog we would end up with was not part of my team on my expedition, but we had met all their dogs while being with them, and had free access to wander amongst them as we wished.  It also became very clear on our expedition that the dogs tolerated a lot of “manhandling” including the rubbing on of creams onto the paws, putting on of booties, and taking coats and harnesses on and off.  The dogs also work hard with a variety of visitors most days (aside from during pandemics!) and so they are socialised very well, tolerating a lot of petting, handling, and cuddling in their everyday lives.  This is a very important factor in Arctic Adventure Tours business too, that the dogs are friendly towards all people, whether known or strangers.  I had also met their kennel manager (Sophia) on my own expedition and trusted her 100% to get the selection right for our family.  In fact she was amazingly patient with us and our many questions, and suggested two suitable dogs to choose from with details of their history and temperaments (I just wish we could have taken both).  It was thanks to the knowledge that Arctic Adventure Tours have of their dogs’ characters, and the willingness to answer all of our questions that made it possible for us to make a confident decision to adopt, and also to choose the right dog to join our family.

So without further ado, let me hand you over to Baileys to introduce herself:

My name is Baileys (as in the drink!). The theme for naming my litter was drinks, and I have a gorgeous bear of a brother called Hangover.   I am an eight year old retired Alaskan husky sled dog from Norway.  I have a Norwegian passport but I am also fluent in English and I am already picking up Swedish.  I moved to southern Sweden and I was a super good girl on my two flights, but that second pilot needs to go back to school to practise his landings as it was blooming awful!  I am very laid back about life, and have only barked once since arriving in my new home (I was having a really good dream).  I dream a lot about my former dog sledding days, always running fast and wagging my tail in my sleep.  I love digging holes to rest in when we are outdoors and taking a break, although the soil and rocks here are a lot tougher than the snow I am used to.  I love gently tapping my new humans with my paw when I need a tickle and I love wearing my harness and pulling my humans on a hike to help them out a little.  I hate stairs (slippery old blighters), dog beds, but I adore their red rug though so they bought me another one for upstairs, and I detest the hoover.  A lot of things are very odd to me like dog toys, washing machines, and my humans lying down in beds.  I have also become very good at navigating Lego on the lounge floor.  Retirement life is good and full of cuddles (they have three small people so there are a lot of cuddles), treats, and lots of outdoor adventures.  I am off now to shed a little more fur as it is not exactly the arctic down here!!!  WOOF!!  Back over to my new human….

So why did we adopt a husky?  These are Alaskan huskies and in general they are the most friendly, kind, patient, and loving animals.  We felt this breed would fit in well with our chaotic family life.  They are very independent and just settle if not a lot is happening, or find a quiet spot if too much is happening,  but also adore love and hugs and being part of the family.  We also had the connection with Arctic Adventure Tours and knew their dogs were well looked after and “pre-loved”.

Another question people ask us is, “doesn’t she need a lot of exercise having been used to pulling dog sleds for hours in a day?”.  The answer to this is a surprising one.  Obviously dogs need exercising and a healthily lifestyle, but when it is “down time” these Alaskan huskies just chill, and when it is exercise time, they just go!  They will go until you stop however long that is, but as we quickly learned with Baileys, Alaskan huskies will still chill out just as well even if the day has not been filled with vigorous exercise.  The length of exercise makes no difference.  Five minutes or five hours, once we are back Baileys heads to her rugs, and enjoys her down time, waiting patiently for cuddles and tickles as they materialise.  They are very good at relaxing!  In fact we are probably out more to exercise and tire out the nine year old twins rather than the sled dog!  We head out for a half hour potter first thing in the morning as a first loo break of the day (our garden is not secure so she can not just be let out), before we head off to various jobs.  I am based around where we live (ironically walking dogs), so I head back to give her an early afternoon longer walk or a run with the bike, which she loves.  Then she gets one final quick loop round the block for twenty minutes before bed to give her a chance for a final loo stop of the day, and that is it!  Obviously there are days when we are out hiking where she gets more hours of exercise, like any dog in a family, or days when we head out to the local shop and we will take her with us as we walk there and she gets an extra walk.  

Some people have been fascinated with how easy she has adapted to indoor life, having lived outdoors all her life previously.  The first few days we had her, we got to know her toileting routines, but soon it became very clear that she had no training needed, and would not mess in her living space and she seemed to be able to work out that was now a house.  She loves lying with us wherever we are hanging out, and on her red rug in particular.  If we are out at a fire pit eating she will curl up in her “husky tuck” and sleep until we are done.  She is amazingly accommodating and versatile. The only thing she has had to do to adapt is to lose quite a bit of fur in the first few weeks with us. We presume that this is due to leaving her previous home in a northern Norwegian climate and coming into a much warmer southern Swedish climate.  But we brushed her daily and that has settled down now.  

Life with Baileys is just amazing and she brings a lot of happy vibes into our home and we all adore her…..all Arctic Adventure Tours’ dogs are special, but this lady holds a very special and large place in our hearts now, as I know she does in the hearts of those she left behind as well.  For those lovely people she left behind, we hope to provide the best retirement possible for Baileys, as they have given us the gift of one of their amazing dogs 🙂

Alaskan Huskies, alaskan husky, adopting a dog, sled dogs, sled dog, working dogs, retired sled dogs, arctic, dogs, huskies, pets, www.mammasschool.co.uk

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