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A tale of Autarky dog food and Huskies

To really appreciate wild animals you have to see them in their natural habitat. I am now of the opinion that the same is true of huskies. When it comes to Siberian huskies, their natural habitat is the snow.

Huskies are working dogs and to understand how majestic these creatures really are you just have to see them at work. The trouble is that dog mushing is not a common occupation in the UK! I have always thought that huskies are adorable and so when I booked my holiday to Alaska, I was particularly excited at the prospect of seeing huskies in action. Alaska is the home of the legendary Iditerod sled race and sledding is a way of life in the winter.

The Alaskan Summer

The only trouble was that my trip was to be in July. Even in Alaska there isn’t any snow about during the summer months. Indeed it can be warmer in Alaska than it is Britain. I wanted to see huskies pulling a sled on the snow, preferably a sled with me on it. So what was I going to do?

I was aware that you take summer rides using sleds on wheels but that just wasn’t the same thing at all. I started a major investigation to see if there was anywhere with both snow and dogs that I could reach. I eventually discovered that one of the Iditerod racers kept his huskies high up on a glacier above the state capital, Juneau. It was possible to visit the camp and learn how to mush but only if you chartered a helicopter to get you there!

Oh well, when in Alaska.....

I chartered the helicopter!

Flying High

On the penultimate day of my holiday I found myself flying up to the camp and I was beside myself with excitement. When the chopper landed and I had climbed out I was greeted by the deafening sound of dozens of huskies barking for all they were worth. When I met up with my instructor the dogs were clearly aware that some of them were about to pull the sled and the barking reached new heights. The first thing I learnt about huskies was that they love to work.

A team of dogs was chosen for my sled and it was then time to get on the move. I was astonished that the dogs could understand all of the commands that I had been taught to use and would respond correctly every time. If I yelled yee they went right. If I yelled Haw they went left. They were also quite brilliant at working as a team. Sadly I was not quite so brilliant and every time we went around a corner I flew off of the sled and ended up face planting the snow.
There was more to sledding than met the eye!

I eventually gained some measure of control over what I was doing and had one of the most memorable experiences of my life. After the mushing I was introduced to some gorgeous puppies and then shown around the camp. Life up there was extremely minimalist. There didn’t seem to be much in the way of home comforts and supplies. There was a lot of dog food though! One of the tents was full of Autarky Dog Food and various bags of treats.

Fussy Eaters

I discovered that unlike many dogs, huskies are very good at regulating their food intake and to not tend to overeat. They will eat more when they are working and need the calories, less when they have a period of rest. Apparently they can be fussy eaters if they are lone pets but when living as part of a crew they tend to eat whatever is offered, in this case the Autarky dog food. So I has also learnt that huskies are very clever animals. If there is likely a choice of food because of a doting owner, hold out for your favourite. If you are in competition with other dogs, eat the food!

The biggest lesson I learnt was that I wanted a husky, fussy eater or not! I still want one and I thoroughly intend to get one. But only one, so there won’t be any mushing going on.


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