Five Things You Should Know Before Adopting a Siberian Husky
Six months ago I fell in love with a beautiful girl. She was sweet and shy. She had the most beautiful blue eyes I've ever seen and a tongue that was as soft as velvet. She was a 3 year old Siberian Husky. I was at an animal adoption event for PAWS Chicago www.pawschicago.org. a no-kill animal shelter where I had been volunteering for the past few years. Her name was Meika and she and I bonded during that 4-hour event. I petted her, brushed her coat and took her outside for walks. She followed me and seemed upset when one of the other volunteers took her leash from me. I was very tempted to adopt her that day but I lived in an apartment that did not allow dogs. My husband and I had decided that we would be moving in a couple months to a house where we would be able to keep a dog. It was just a case of bad timing. One of the other volunteers said that he would be willing to keep Meika at his place for the 6 weeks or so until I could take her to our new home. I declined, thinking that this just wasn't the right time. I went home without a dog, not really sure if I had made the right decision.
One week later, I went again to a PAWS adoption event and there she was. Meika recognized me immediately and greeted me wagging her beautiful fluffy Husky tail. In addition, the same guy who had volunteered to foster her was there. Noticing the bond that had developed between Meika and me, he again offered to keep her for me until we had our house. This time, I agreed.
We already had 3 cats at home, and I was a little concerned about introducing Meika to them, but she showed no interest in the cats that were at the adoption event, so I thought she and the cats would work things out on their own. I have never owned a Husky before so I had a few things to learn. The introduction did not go well. Now, six months later, she and the cats are still kept separated.
I really was surprised about how little I knew about Huskies when I got Meika. If you or someone you know is considering adopting a Husky, you might want to read on. Here are the top five things I wish someone had told me before I got a Siberian Husky
- 1. Huskies are bred to run and run and run and run. They cannot be trusted off-leash. This drive to run is so strong, many of them become escape artists, jumping over fences or digging under them. So far Meika has gotten out of the yard twice. Both times it took a lot of time and effort (and some ham) .to capture her. Huskies do not come when called if they are loose. Or they will come until they are just out of your reach and stop, knowing you can't catch them. As soon as you move toward them, they run again. They will then look back at you with that mocking Husky smile - they know they can outrun anyone. It's all a fun game to them.
- 2. Huskies have a strong prey drive and love to chase small animals including squirrels, birds, and CATS. It was after Meika came home that I started doing some real research on the breed (I admit that I should have done that first). I found a lot of sources that confirmed that Huskies rarely live peacefully with cats. I got a message from one Husky owner who said that her Husky lived with her cat for 7 years. Then she came home one day and the dog had killed the cat. Yikes! This led to a major lifestyle change. We have quite a complex routine at our house involving rotating the animals. During the day the cats are confined while the dog is loose, at night it's the reverse. It's not how I thought things would be when I got a dog, but it's worth it to keep the peace (and keep the cats alive and healthy).
- 3. Huskies are "Independent Thinkers." That's the phrase that the trainer used when I took Meika for basic obedience training. Huskies don't generally do very well in obedience training or competitions. I definitely don't think it's because they aren't smart enough. I believe that Huskies are actually so smart they don't blindly obey commands in anticipation of a Liv-a-Snap. They think about it and decide if it's worth it for them to obey. Sometimes they decide it's not. See above re: Huskies not coming when called if they are loose. When this was pointed out to me, I suddenly realized that I've never seen a Husky acting as a service dog for the handicapped, or a police dog, or even participating in agility competitions that I see on Animal Planet. Now I understood why.
- 4. Huskies do not make good guard dogs. I wasn't interested in getting a guard dog, but I guess I did expect my dog to bark when the doorbell rings. Meika doesn't even wake up when we come home or someone that she doesn't know comes over. She greets everyone as if they are her best friend (maybe the bond I thought we had when I first met her was her Husky friendliness).
- 5. Siberian Huskies shed a LOT. Of course I knew that Huskies shed. They have those thick fur coats that protect them while they run through the Tundra. It's not until you own a Husky while it "blows out its coat," that you realize how much fur they have and how much of it comes out at one time.
- 6. O.K. - I know I said there were five things but I had to add one more. Huskies are sweet, happy, comical and friendly dogs that are fun to be with and even more fun to share your life with. They might not be "robot dogs" who do everything you say or one of those low-maintenance dogs who don't leave piles of fur on your floor, but I wouldn't trade mine for any cat loving, perfectly obedient, non-shedding, doorbell barking, off leash walking dog in the world!