4 August 2008

a canine theme

Huskies are very common in Svalbard and are used as working dogs. We had the opportunity to go sledging with dogs while we were there. As it was summer there wasn't enough ice so the sledging was on wheels but as excellent compensation, there were puppies!! There were five at the place we went to and it was a wrench having to leave them with their owners. Even the tour guide for the day checked the insides of my coat to see that i wasn't stowing any away!

We harnessed up 8-9 dogs at the front of the sledges and took it in turns to drive. I thought initially it was a bit harsh on them pulling us just for the pleasure of it but as soon as we got to the cages where the dogs were kept the racket of them all howling to be allowed out and work was deafening. These guys love working! They jumped at the leashes when we had to put the breaks on.

On another occassion we went for a 3 hour trek with a husky and while we were struggling to cross rivers of melt-water, the dogs just trotted through never noticing the cold (literally glacial!) or current. Awesome beasties!

One night we went to a villmarksgrilling - wilderness BBQ - and learnt more about the dogs there. The guy running the evening presented a slide show of his annual trips out to the arctic wilderness with the dogs. They snuggle down outside at night but he told us not to feel sorry for them because it doesn't affect them at all and that they would often come out in the morning and see no dogs at all because of the snow then gradually ears would appear and then the rest would follow!

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