Getting My Fur Fix
For Doggie Lovers Only!
I saw the brochure at the welcome center and knew I had to have this particular adventure. Even with no snow on the ground, the brochure talked about tour visits. So I was game and it took little convincing for Colin to agree. The Husky Haven is owned by a woman, Kim Darst, who ran in the Iditarod race several times. She and dog handler, Jean, run the tours, usually to school children and groups of travelers. Colin and I were lucky enough to have a private tour of 43 Alaskan huskies and learn more about the Iditarod.
There is a controversy about training and using huskies for snow travel. It seems some think this is abuse. But to many who live in snow country a good portion of the year, it’s actually more reliable than snowmobiles. The huskies all ‘fight’ to be hooked up to the sled, and cry if they are left behind. Jean also told us that the pecking order actually changes after a race, as those that were on the trail have a new confidence that is evident when they return home.
The Iditarod is a 1049-mile race, over a week long. The support teams are tremendous: multitudes of veterinarians, handlers, food/bed facilities, and supplies are located at every forced stop. The dogs cannot go back on the trail until the vet approves, so safety for the dogs is uppermost in this race. When Kim ran the Iditarod in 2009, she and a fellow racer were caught in a severe blizzard, unable to move because of the snow depth and one of her dogs became hypothermic. She set up camp, boiled water, and fed the team for more than 24 hours. A rescue team was eventually sent to find her after her beacon failed to move location. The rescue team that came to Kim’s aid stayed with the majority of the dogs to bring them back safely, while Kim and her injured pup took the snowmobile to the next vet station. Although she didn’t finish the race, her team was thrilled with the attempt and the distance she had covered.
Maybe all of these pictures are not necessary. But it made me so happy to be introduced to each of the dogs, learn about their background and race capabilities, and spend time with each one hugging, pulling fur (it was spring after all and they were all shedding), and giving and getting ‘kisses’. The longer I stayed, the dirtier I became (as you can see in the pictures), but I didn’t mind. I was in Husky Haven heaven.
P.S. A couple of nights later: my habit at any campsite is to visit any neighboring dogs. On Thursday evening (6/2), I was introduced to sweet Koora, a rescue 4 year old blue heeler. I offered to baby sit while Koora’s human Mommy Jess and sister Serena went to dinner in town. It was such a delicious 90 minutes. Better than s’mores.
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Husky Haven, Singleton, MI