This is for anyone with an interest or desire to own a Siberian Husky or two or three or more…
Interested in getting a Siberian Husky?
Dont’cha hate people who throw water on your fire? Here you are all passionate about a Siberian Husky, maybe you saw a movie, think they are pretty or fell in love with those blue eyes. I am begging you to please think twice, take a breath and then think again! Some people are simply not suited for this breed. Now, don’t go, get all stubborn and get one to prove me wrong, because, they will prove you wrong!
Okay, you still want one, what are your options?
1. The County Pound under threat of imminent Death!
Okay, I am not being cruel here. I know it is very difficult to know a dog is about to be euthanized but that is not the reason to bring it home! It is the time to contact a local rescue or area Siberian Rescue. Rescues are better adapted to saving a dog in a kill shelter. These dogs may need special care and rehab. Also, once you bring the dog home, you will find that many rescues will not take the dog off your hands -they only take dogs from animal shelters. They see you as someone making a commitment and their resources are limited; they might help you solve the problem, with advice and resources. So, what kind of problems are we talking about here? Sadly, many people bring their dogs to the pound because there is a problem they can not or will not handle. Often these are problems they unknowingly created. Here are two common ones:
Perhaps, they skimped on preventative measures and now the dog has heartworms, this is a common problem with dogs whose owners have given up. Treatment is expensive and time consuming, so the rescue always has to evaluate whether they can afford the treatment and will the dog be adoptable after it is cured. Some will take dog knowing no one will ever want it, but then that dog has taken a forever slot in the rescue, taking the place reserved for other rescues.
Destruction / Energy
These are working dogs. Siberian huskies were brought to this country less than 100 years ago. They had been selectively bred by the Chukchi, an indigenous people in Siberia. They have been bred for strength, stamina and endurance for hundreds of years. They are the inspiration for the famous Iditarod race -they are optimized for pulling a sled over hundreds of miles in weather as cold as -35 degrees! They have a fierce prey instinct and see many creatures as a meal. Your neighbor’s cats, chickens and goats are fast food to a Siberian, especially one that was abandoned or escaped to live a feral life for a while like many rescued dogs. There energy level is very high and you could run a 5K daily with them and they’ll want to go for another run. If you do not exercise them, they will use the pent up energy destroying all your belongings! Google ‘husky destruction’ -it is amazing. Our Quinn stripped a sofa down to its wooden frame in less than 30 minutes, when he was 6 months old! A month later he took out the sleep sofa! And that is only two items on a list that goes on for many pages.
So many dogs end up in the pound because their owners are weak. They have raised and loved a dog from a puppy and now the dog is old, their health problems are cascading into a small fortune. Maybe, they believe people will think them mean for wanting their dog put to sleep. Or maybe, they just want to save a buck and let the county do it for free, after all -they pay taxes. It is hard to watch a dog reach the end of their lives, none of us are immortal. But, to stick your head in the sand and let others do what you should do is not helping anyone. Life presents us with challenges, we all fear something, we all want to run away screaming or hide behind the door when trouble comes knocking. But, try to understand that the strength you acquire doing that which scares you will only make you better and stronger! There may be a challenge around the corner that demands a certain strength that doing the right thing will give you, empowering you to be there for someone in need.
The Pet Store
In a perfect world, a pet store will acquire dogs from a buyer who will have each and every puppy examined for genetic defects, health and disease. But, that will add to the cost of procuring a product to sell, thus reducing profits. A pet store is a STORE, it’s purpose is to earn money, if it’s a chain, it’s purpose is providing money to a whole bunch of people: employee’s salaries, owner’s profits, expenses, board of directors and shareholder’s profits. The pretty blue-eyed puppy could have been purchased from a puppy mill, which would that no care was taken in testing or breeding. They might have a female with serious genetic disorders and breed the poor thing non-stop, creating a gene pool full of hip problems or blindness.
There are many good breeders out there doing good work, testing and maintaining good health. I’d even argue that every breeder started out with a heart of gold. But, it is a business and it can be very hard to keep your head out of water. Maybe they just can’t make the hard decisions when a dog is born with a serious problem. A friend was offered a ‘bargain price’ on a little girl, it was also a settlement on a previous problem. The puppy was about 6 weeks old, same age as our Quinn. She stopped by on her way home and was stunned to see the two dogs together. Quinn was easily more than twice the size as her puppy! Later, she told me the little girl was full of worms and giardia, a parasitic diarrhea! Of course, this brought a big question to mind about the breeder’s other dogs. Testing is expensive, as are vet bills but if this is your business, it is a business expense.
Big Heart Rescues
You don’t go to school to start a rescue, no license is required. It is time consuming and heartbreaking work. Not to mention, it will take all your pennies and half your sanity. It also needs to be run like a business. You need to be organized. You need support professionals like vets and lawyers. Sadly, you can also be a neurotic, do-gooder who is a few years away from a raid by Animal Control. It also means the life of the dog is more important to the rescuer than your life or your child’s. Sometimes these rescuers are stretched so thin, it becomes easy to skip health checks. It is also common for these types of rescuers or ‘hobby-rescuers’ to deem all dogs safe and the owner’s in need of training. Wrong! There are dogs that have been so inbred or abused that they are one bite away from killing or maiming.
Well-run, Professional, Breed-Specific Rescues
I am constantly hearing complaints from people who are turned down by Breed Specific Rescues. Here they offered to take a dog into their homes and hearts and someone with a bunch of dog’s needing homes says “No!” How dare they! It only takes me a few questions to know why and sometimes I try to explain but usually I just nod sympathetically. A professional, established breed-specific rescue will make you jump through hoops, fill out lots of forms, subject you to a background check and home check. Then they will require you buy things, some expensive and then they will charge you a hefty fee! Why? Because their job is hard and emotionally draining. They do not want to waste their time on people who will change their minds, lose their dog because they lied about never trusting a siberian husky off leash, or the owner becomes overwhelmed and ends up neglecting or abusing the dog.
Siberian husky owners will smile or argue with other owners who seem to think their pets shed as much or are as destructive as a Siberian Husky. Don’t argue, let them think what they will. My husband pays for a woman to clean every two weeks, he wanted me to keep my sanity. She arrives at noon and after I spent the morning sweeping up the mountain of dog hair and picking up pieces of destroyed furniture, clothing, etc. Last week I was ill and figured she might as well see what’s what. Now she has told me on occasion about how much her Great Dane sheds… uh huh! I explained that I was sick and hadn’t swept, she looked around an said “Oh my God, how long have you been sick?” I told her I had swept two days earlier. I don’t think she believed me but since she’d cleaned two weeks earlier, she was still shocked by what she thought was 2 weeks of hair.