Adhara, or Addy*, is undeniably a beautiful dog.
She is also whip-smart, stubborn, independent, prone to mischief, and not above pulling things out of cupboards, the fridge, or off countertops. Or above pulling Fyre boots out of closets for nefarious purposes. Huskies are not doting retrievers, hanging on your every word. They’ll do what you ask if they see the reason for it, and if they don’t, be prepared to have a full-fledged conversation explaining why what you’re asking is important… and sometimes you will lose these arguments. There’s something almost uncannily human about those woos. Some huskies are big talkers; some are more the strong silent type; some are selectively vocal. It took Addy about three months to start talking to me, and since then she’s certainly had a lot to say, but it’s usually when it’s just the two of us. Neighbors and passersby on the street who mimic husky noises are met with stony silence and polite-but-aloof disregard. I’ve learned to smile apologetically, shrug my shoulders and say she’s a bit of a cat- aloof and independent. And if she’s aloof with most humans upon first meeting them, she’s a downright ice queen when it comes to most other dogs, including other huskies sometimes.
Their thick double-coat is legendary for shedding and also gives them an ideal temperature range that is not quite comfortable for most humans. If you are horrified about the idea of dog fur literally everywhere, this is not the breed for you. If running on cold, dark, icy evenings/mornings means hitting the treadmill, this is also not the breed for you. However, if you melt above 80F and spend most of the summer trying to avoid heat while you dream of cooler days, then they make great adventure buddies for ten months of the year in the Northwest, and excellent reading/napping partners for the other two.
Perhaps no other breed has as many misconceptions, ranging from how closely related to wolves they are to how big they should be, to what environments they will and won’t do well in. Similar to their Clydesdale-cousins, Alaskan Malamutes, they are among the most genetically similar to wolves. THEY ARE NOT WOLVES. At least not anymore so than any other Canis lupus familiaris (domestic dog). They also tend to be smaller than most people seem to expect them to be. I’ve lost count of the number of people who have told me that Addy is “going to grow into those paws” or that she “must be mixed with something else?” when I tell people her actual age. Nope. Not a puppy, not a mix. And while she dreams of a romp in the snow year round, she does okay when it gets hot as long as we’re smart about it. That usually means shorter, infrequent runs in the summer to keep her mostly in shape or substituting walks for runs, and then making up for it when the cooler weather returns. If she seems not so enthused about exercise, I take her cue and leave her at home. I’ll take the twinge of guilt I feel over leaving her behind over the terrifying possibility of heat stroke and an emergency vet visit any day.
Huskies are high energy dogs, but they can do well in the city. While having a large yard makes any dog parent’s life easier, my experience with her is that she wants to be wherever I am, so if I’m outside sitting on a porch, she’s outside sitting on the porch at my feet, not making solitary loops. If I’m running, she’s running. The best way to get her to lose interest in a squirrel? Keep moving. The thought of being left behind is more than enough to send her chasing after me. It took me a year of trying to coax her away from trees to learn this.
If I’m ordering a beer at our favorite brewery, she’s ordering the doggie equivalent…
If there is one thing I can say emphatically about life with a husky, it’s that they will absolutely, 100% ruin other dogs for you. You’ll still love them all, and you’ll smile appreciatively while you watch a friend’s dog go through their routine of tricks. When I still had my first husky, Lucy, I remember after one particularly exasperating weekend watching a Great Dane out for a walk with their human and feeling just the slightest hint of jealousy at the pure dumb joy the dog had for seemingly everything. I found myself vowing that I was through with smart, stubborn, complicated dogs. Like so many similar vows, it was broken, but Addy finds ways to remind me why I made it. I’ve had it with getting ready in the morning and feeling completely batty because where are all of my left shoes?! WHY ARE THEY IN YOUR CRATE?! HOW DID YOU…what?! Why the left shoe, dog, why? Why did you pull the peanuts off the counter, pull the lid off, but not eat a single one? Wow, babe. You didn’t spill a single one on the floor. I’m kinda impressed. PLEASE DON’T TRY TO SMACK THE HISSING RACCOON IN THE FACE WHILE WE’RE RUNNING.
Dogs don’t eat bananas…?
Addy has also found several means to make me remember why I broke it. The combination of personality, comedic timing, and zest for life will win you over, and other breeds, for all of their qualities just don’t fit the bill afterwards. However, I can’t state emphatically enough how much this is not the breed for everyone. Perhaps no other breed so capably teaches you how to not take life so seriously… and requires almost infinite patience. It’s like living with a combination of a toddler, a cat, and wolf, and you never know where in that spectrum your furry companion is going to fall on a given day. But if you’re willing to put up with the occasional misplaced fruit, the constant reality of fur everywhere, and are willing to get your lazy bones out when it’s freezing, you will never find a better companion.