Yesterday we went to the SHCV's September Pet Walk, which this month was at Westerfolds Park. It was a brilliant day - cool in the wind and warm in the sun, which was a great environment for all the huskies and husky crosses, as well as the people. And we had a great turn out, with eighteen dogs and their people enjoying a stroll of about an hour around the park. These walks are a great part of the support network that the SHCV offers to club members and its wonderful to see so many people mingling and chatting with and about their huskies. The committee members do a great job, organising, helping folks who get lost on the way, circulating and chatting to people, answering questions and providing advice on all manner of questions. It was also wonderful to see friends from the sledding community, who we haven't caught up with for a few months.
We walked up hill and down dale, which was a bit tiring for some people, especially those with little legs!
Talking to various people there, looking at the many beautiful dogs, two things struck me - first was the range of colours in the dogs and second was the number of rescued and renowned dogs.
One of the things I love about huskies is that there is no "correct" colour in coats or eyes. The dogs are valued for their temperament and abilities over their appearance. Not that I've ever met an ugly husky! Everyone has their preferences and personal taste, but, especially amongst the sledding community, dogs are judged on what they can do, not their looks. There is a story told about one of the men who travelled to Siberia to purchase dogs, seeking to purchase an all white team, and enduring some laughter from the local villages. Back in Alaska, the team failed to perform in the races and the man had to concede that he should have chosen his team based on ability rather appearance.
Huskies come in many colours:
- "White" (recessive trait in Siberian Huskies, dog is genetically black, grey, red, etc., but white 'covers' it up - more of a coat pattern, than a true color)
- "Saddleback" (Black tipped guard hairs are restricted to saddle area, head, haunches and shoulders may be white or red. Black and grey dogs with the same type of saddling are not generally included under this category)
- "Sable" (Reddish or brownish with a black nose)
- "Agouti" (Banded coat, very wild looking, cream instead of white undercoat)
- "Light Red" (from pale yellow to a light orange cast with white under belly)
- "Copper" (Dark Red or Brown with white under belly)
- "Silver & White" (undercoat is grey as opposed to cream/beige)
- "Wolf Grey" (grey with distinct orange or reddish cast behind ears and above hocks)
- "Grey" (grey with beige or yellow undercoat)
- "Black & White" (Lighter dogs are termed 'dilute black')
- "Mostly Black"
I'm not sure that we managed to get all of these colours yesterday, but we certainly had plenty of different colours, different faces and different eyes!
What do you call a collection of huskies? A rainbow, or a tangle?
While it was beautiful to have a veritable rainbow of huskies at the park today, it was also notable that at least nine of the eighteen dogs present were rescue dogs. Through the RSPCA, the SHCV, various pounds and lost dogs homes, at least half of the dogs present had happily found new homes. I shudder to think how many more huskies, cross breeds and other dogs are euthanised every year. Why do so many huskies and other dogs end up in this situation? This speaks to the fact that dogs are a big responsibility. One lady I spoke to today had adopted a three year old husky through the RSPCA. This little girl came in, undesexed, microchipped, with a broken leg. Her owners were contacted, but chose to surrender her, rather than pay the costs of her surgery. For whatever reason, they were unwilling or unable to continue to take responsibility for her. She ended up with a very loving home and has been a wonderful companion to her owners ever since, but it was a stroke of luck that she adopted. Other dogs, not as young, or pretty, would not have been so lucky.
Huskies, with their energy levels, their fluff, their intelligence which leads to boredom and escape attempts when not appropriately stimulated, are challenging dogs to own. One of the reasons the SHCV, it's committee and its members work so hard to support husky owners is because they've seen what happens when people buy these gorgeous puppies without really understanding what that puppy will grow into. They want to ensure that people remain happy with their dogs and their dogs remain happy, safe and well cared for in their homes. Yesterday was a great example of those efforts in practice.
Thankyou to the little G's for taking photos, walking dogs and entertaining us. Thankyou to the SHCV folks for organising this event.