Sunday, February 13, 2011

On Re-Homing Sled Dogs -

If you read my blog, you  know I write it tongue-in-cheek from Daemon, my two year old Siberian Husky's point of view. By doing this I am accomplishing two things: everyone gets to see the wonderful anthropomorphic character of my Husky, one that I feel all huskies share to some level, and you get to see what ambassadors of pets, sled dogs, and family members these dogs make - regardless of their "job". 

Also if you read through my blog you will see one foster husky after another. All have different backgrounds - some come from racing and mushing backgrounds and some from homes or the pound, some from conditions too horrible to speak of. All are different ages. All come to me, through Arctic Breeds Rescue, in some state of confusion or panic. All need some sort of "rounding" to their education - weather it is Obedience, Potty-training, running in harness, or simply learning to trust and play. I have been rescuing and rehabbing arctic breeds for a decade, and I have yet to have one that is "Impossible to Re-Home" or place with people, after due attention and care.  

I'm no 'behavioral expert', but I know with enough patience, attention and care every dog that comes to me will eventually find the right home - many times in a very different capacity than how they came to me. I trust that the dogs will have something good come along, and in turn the dogs trust me. 

Occasionally, I have had a dog that was "out of my experience" or didn't fit the current dynamics of my pack. Do I give up on this dog? Deem him Unadoptable and retire him to a kennel for life? No! I use my network of dog lovers and trainers and find someone with the right experience or availability in their foster program to address that dogs specific needs. Of these occasional issues, these dogs all have eventually found loving homes. 

I have had puppy-mill rescues that become Canine Good Citizens, Owner-Release pet dogs and Conformation culls become wheel and lead dogs. And yes, I have even had retired sled dogs, who spent their lives on tethers, learn to live politely within a home - learning obedience, and even how to play. One of my favorite retired sled dogs even learned to become a "shop dog" - politely greeting customers and in general being the perfect gentleman - without running off or needing a tether. The Key to all sled dogs is they are SMART - they can and will adapt and learn anything your care to teach them - they love to learn. 

I have read a lot about the "culling" incident in Whistler. And while that is a horrible horrible exception to everything Musher's stand for, I find it more disturbing that people and "experts" are saying sled-dogs kept on tethers cannot or will-not adapt to a new situation - like living with a family. I do not see how in their expertise they understand a sled dogs deep need to run, but they do not aknowledge that those same dogs have a need as deep to love and be and work with their people. The Human-Dog relationship is based on that need, that trust, and that adaptability. 

I hope you all will support that sleddogging is a way of life, and involves the dogs in every aspect of a musher's life. 



1 comment:

  1. Totally agree with you Nikki. You do a great job and just hope that you know that a lot of people appreciate what you do. Give D and Windy Loo a big hug for me and Bear too.