Recently I watched a cheerful movie also named Frozen where, spoiler alert, a skier is ripped apart by wolves. Between the horror, blood and gore, I found myself cheering for them. No, I’m not a sociopath. You see, two weeks ago, my dog Indy died of leishmaniasis. He was a beautiful three-year-old Siberian Husky.
Although not the sharpest of dogs (Average Working/Obedience Intelligence), huskies are an amazing breed full of history and heroic feats, very friendly and joyful. Bred for speed, work and agility by the Chukchis (semi-nomadic, reindeer-hunting people of extreme north-eastern Siberia), huskies have a happy disposition and work incredibly well together. They’re fierce in extreme conditions and low-maintenance in terms of food (thanks to their closeness to wolves). If you needed more power, you could add more dogs: 18 or 20 dogs could be hitched to a single sled, without fighting, which wasn’t possible with other breeds. And I find it adorable that their husky mothers would help train entire litters in the art of sledding.
In the 1930s, the Soviets tried to destroy every vestige of non-Soviet culture, including the dog breeds. Thankfully, the artic explorer Olaf Swenson exported the huskies to North America, saving them from disappearance. In 1909, very few people knew the Siberian Huskies in Alaska, when, against all bets made, a team of nine huskies arrived at third place in the All Alaska Sweepstakes Race. They couldn’t believe it. The small and light huskies proved them all wrong. Balto, the husky, and the Great Race of Mercy is an incredible story of perseverance, in which a great relay sled race took place across Alaska, to provide medical serum essential to assist in a deadly epidemic.
Last, but not least, Siberian Huskies are gorgeous. They have triangular, upright ears, and their double coating can have any color, from pure white to pure black, combinations included. Their eyes also have a lot of variety: blue, brown, green, amber, etc., and even mixed. They’re very silent, and when they make some noise, it’s mainly a howl. Our dog howled when he wanted to go outside. Their fluffy, fox-like tails evolved that way to protect their noses in extreme coldness: they lie with the nose covered in tail fur, making the famous and beautiful siberian swirl.
I know, I know. Nowadays, buying a dog isn’t the right thing to do. Ironically, the right thing to do is to adopt the bought dogs other people abandoned. I get that. Honestly. Mixed dogs are genetically superior, more intelligent, and will love you as deeply as any full-breed dog would. Buying or adopting a mixed dog is better for the species as a whole. Still, I loved owning a Siberian Husky.
With breeds, you can read all about them, where they came from, their expected personality, who they fit best, and so on. I loved watching a friendly wolf stretch in my living room. It was funny every time. I loved even more when he had the hiccups, snored, or breathed with his tongue out. He wasn’t very obedient, but he was the friendliest. I miss him deeply. How many times did I sing this while hugging him? Not enough, that’s how many.
I found out that their howl, at full power, could be heard at great distances. I shivered, thinking what could the animal be feeling, so tragic, or alarming, that he’d have the need to howl in such a way. I thought that I wouldn’t want to see that happening. Thankfully, it never did. The last painful howl wasn’t his.
Indy’s proper goodbye would have had some of his distant relatives howling in a chorus.