They hike! And sleep, sunbathe, play, dig holes, get brushed, pull ATVs, but most importantly, they rest. Summer is a time for recovery.
Sled dogs in the Northern hemisphere spend most of August through April working, training, and/or racing. May, June & July is an important time for the dogs to rest and recover from a busy winter season. At Arctic Dog Adventure Co., we offer husky hikes during the recovery months. A husky hike is a guided nature walk with a Siberian Husky through the old growth forest and ridge lines that surround our kennel. They are a chance for visitors to explore the Northern boreal forest with an experienced guide and huskies from the oldest Siberian Husky Kennel in the world. For the dogs, it's an opportunity to stretch their legs and socialize with guests from around the world. They love it.
What I love most about husky hikes is the hands-on nature of the experience. Guests learn to harness their own husky, just as they would for a winter tour, and with the help of a skijor belt (a belt similar to a climbing harness), the dog helps pull them up the ridge, demonstrating natural pulling instincts first hand, just as well as pulling a sled could. As a guide, I usually don't take a dog, in case I need to relieve anyone. This usually leaves me huffing and puffing in the back, trying to keep up with all the husky-powered hikers!
As we hike through the boreal forest that surrounds the homestead, we point out wildflowers, trees, and animals on our walk up to the top of the ridge, where vast panoramic views of the Chatanika River Valley and the White Mountains await. I love watching the wildflowers bloom and the berries ripen on these daily walks up the ridge. We walk every day, regardless if we have tours or not.
We usually take a break at the top of the ridge to soak in the views. The dogs are often ready for some water and cuddles. We enjoy a home baked snack (today it was peanut butter cookies, yesterday chocolate pumpkin muffins) and a hot or cold drink before continuing on through the blueberry fields, turning onto a moss-lined path through old growth forest that leads back to the kennel.
Other summer activities: If temperatures are cool enough (<50F) we take the opportunity to hook the dogs up in front of the ATV for a short run. This is essentially a way to walk 10-14 dogs at once. The dogs also have playgroups of 6-7 dogs in our fenced in run behind the house. The dogs are all in various states of shedding during the summer months, so a lot of time is spent brushing and plucking last year's thick downy winter undercoat. The dogs seem to consider this work as their own personal massage sessions. See Tommy and Winken above as examples of half-shed-out-huskies.
Ultimately, summer is for rest, recovery, and socialization. Lucky for us Alaskans, summer is short! Temperatures start dropping in August, and fall training can begin anew, allowing the dogs to get out 4-5x every week as they slowly build their mileage back up. We continue to offer husky hikes for autumn aurora visitors to Fairbanks throughout the month of September. If this is a tour that interests you, please visit our website to book: www.arcticdogco.com/book-now !