Our lives were transformed five years ago when, for Father’s Day, I decided to buy my husband a puppy. Even though we lived in a townhouse, Mark wanted a big dog.
Several people in our neighborhood had big dogs, and a few kept two large dogs in tiny wo-bedroom apartments. Since one day Mark hopes to move us to the snowy north, we decided to research the Siberian Husky breed, as any prospective pet owner should before buying a pet. Before long, several of its characteristics began to
“Well, if you’re looking for a guard dog, then don’t get a Husky,” one
breeder told me over the phone. “They’ll greet the burglar at the window, wagging their tail the whole time, then show him the way to the stereo and television. Huskies are a very people-oriented breed.”
Ok, that’s a plus, I decided. Huskies like people. However, we’d have to give up the idea of a guard dog. I could live with that, though my husband refused to believe the Husky couldn’t be made into some semblance of a guard dog. He thought at the very least, maybe the dog would protect me and our son if push came to shove. However, upon further reflection, we decided it would be best to have a dog that would be friendly with our neighbors and friends.
A week later, we traveled 45 minutes in 95 degrees to South Carolina in search of a male Husky. At the breeder’s house, the litter’s mother, Autumn, met us in the driveway. She had a stainless steel gray coat, sleek like a German Shepherd’s. She weighed a mere 35 pounds because of nursing. What was most striking were her blue eyes, so pale they appeared almost transparent.
The litter’s father, Crazy Zack was in a pen at the back of the property.
He weighed a whopping 100 pounds, much larger than the usual 35-60 pounds of the breed. His neglected double-layered coat resembled the wool of a sheep. They were clearly outdoor dogs.
After viewing the fur balls hiding in the shade of the porch steps, we sat down with breeder, Bryan Duncan, at his kitchen table. “If you don’t want to find dead squirrels and mice on your doorstep, then don’t get a Husky,” he told us. “They like to stalk small animals and can be pretty territorial about it.”
Mark and I still needed time to think. We had concerns about owning a cold weather dog in the humid south. Of course, our dog would be an indoor dog, conditioned to the central air, but would a Husky make a good indoor dog?
Mr. Duncan suggested we visit our local pet store chain and purchase a magazine strictly about Siberian Huskies. We thanked him for his time then heeded his advice.
We bought a copy of Siberian Huskies, released by the editors of Dog Fancy Magazine, and rushed home to read it. We learned the history of the Husky, and that they are best known for their heroic efforts in the Alaskan Serum Run. They are workhorses, bred to pull and run. Huskies need daily, physical exercise and their instinct to run, at times,overwhelms them.
Each article exposed the Husky mentality and personality, and one thing was clear from the personal experience articles: Huskies do possess unique and caring dispositions. One proud owner commented, “If you want a dog that is indifferent to your presence, and isn’t demanding of your time and attention, then don’t get a Husky.”
Huskies are demanding. The breed is pack oriented and quickly learns his place in the family. They are very social, needy, and require almost constant attention. If he doesn’t get the attention he craves, he can be mischievous and destructive, destroying furniture or clothing, or he can be pouting and cranky, ignoring you for hours. Often, when left alone, his need for companionship compels him to howl and cry.
After devouring the magazine and examining the facts, we decided we wanted a Husky. One of us was always at home, so very rarely would the dog be alone. We could walk him in the cooler mornings or evenings on our local trails, so he could get plenty of exercise. We called Mr. Duncan, and bought the last male pup the next day. We named him Sergei Zackovich, or Sergei, son of Zack.
Sergei is now a valued member of the family. If one of us comes home hurting, either physically or mentally, Sergei senses the pain, then showers the injured party with adoring kisses. In the winter, he’s my giant teddy bear, and we cuddle up on the floor for an evening of television, and un-conditional love. If one of us is bored, Sergei’s always ready to play, no excuses, and no batteries needed.
In the last five years, we’ve learned not only about owning a Siberian
Husky, but also about owning a dog in general. Dogs are only as good as they’re treated. We treat Sergei like a person. We talk to him in the same tones we’d use with our friends. Like with children, the trick to a well-behaved dog of any breed is consistency, reassurance, and a lot of love.
Just the other day, I sat on our front steps talking to my neighbor, Alison, who owns a lumbering, playful Labrador named Duke. “I just think your dog is so beautiful and well trained. And those beautiful blue eyes.” She made a silent oooo with her mouth.
Now, Alison is a bit of a neat freak and had been complaining about Duke’s shedding, and the hair that had invaded her house. ” I was telling my husband the other day, ‘I want a dog like that’ but then I got to thinking.” She paused only long enough to draw a quick breathe. “I bet you really have trouble with dog hair, huh?”
Knowing that huskies shed not once, but twice a year, I looked at her and smiled. “Yep, if ya can’t stand dog hair on your furniture, dog hair on your clothes, and even sometimes in your food, then don’t get a Husky.”