Shelters and rescue groups have seen a dramatic increase in the number of Homeless Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes and other failed-looking dogs coming through their doors. Inspired in part by a popular TV series, people buy one of these fluffy puppies on impulse (often online) and end up hanging over their heads. Here, we take a look at how media popularity has affected these dogs and provide some insight into what Huskies – the breed that has been affected the most – are and are not.
Originally, people in the far north bred dogs for, among other things, pulling heavily loaded sleds long distances through some of the world’s coldest landscapes. Today, these Nordic breed dogs – Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, Samoyeds, Akitas, and other Spitz-type dogs – spend most of their time as companions in a world where pull a sled for a living. is hardly ever needed.
In recent years, the number of lost, abandoned or abandoned Nordic breeds – Huskies in particular – has increased. Ask anyone involved in sheltering or rescuing why, and the answer you’ll likely hear is short and not sweet: Game of thrones and his “terrible wolves”. The canines that appeared in this American fantasy drama, which drew over 32 million viewers by episode In its eighth and final season in 2019, were Northern Inuit Dogs, a type specially created to look like wolves when crossing Siberian Huskies and German Shepherds.
Nordic breed rescue groups in the United States and overseas began to see an increase in the number of dogs in need starting in 2011, the year Game of thrones debuts. As the UK’s largest canine welfare organization, Dogs Trust, reported in 2019: “In 2010, a year before the first series aired, only 79 Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies and Akitas were supported by Dogs Trust, up from 411 last year. 420% increase. “
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Dana Ramirez, of the nonprofit Rancho Luna Lobos Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, agrees. “I would say the media plays a big role in getting the Huskies into shelters. We see it time and time again… someone buys a Husky and then wants to give them up because they are too labor intensive. We have a friend who breeds Seppala Huskies, and after the movie To go came out, his puppy demands exploded.
Sadly, the Siberian Huskies aren’t the first breed to feel the pain of popularity. Do you remember Lassie? Rin-Tin-Tin? Pongo, from 101 Dalmatians? Bruiser, the Chihuahua in The revenge of a blonde? Over the years, as the entertainment industry has fueled the demand for particular types of dogs, puppy mills and backyard breeders have stepped up efforts to meet this demand. (Reputable breeders spend a lot of time asking potential buyers about their lifestyle and housing situation – doing their best to dissuade them from getting a Husky unless they are truly committed to welfare. of the dog.)
In fact, most of us probably understand that buying a dog like the one we love on-screen doesn’t mean the dog we get will act the same as a dog that has been professionally trained. . Yet, sadly, it seems the lure of living with our own Pongo or Bruiser – or a terrible wolf – too often trumps this understanding.
The phenomenon is so common that it has caught the attention of scientists. In their 2014 study report, Dog Movie Stars and Dog Breed Popularity: A Case Study in Media Influence on Choice, researchers concluded that “the release of films featuring dogs is often associated with increased popularity. featured races for up to 10 years after the film’s release. ”
Here’s the bottom line: Unless you really understand what Huskies need and are willing and able to deliver it, don’t give in to the image or impulse. Without the exercise and stimulation they need, Huskies become frustrated and take action. If the owner doesn’t understand why this is happening, acting out can lead to a one-way trip to the shelter, being abandoned far from home, or worse.
Don’t be that person.
For every generalization, there is one exception – and often several. With that in mind, here is a short list of what you usually can and cannot be expected from a Husky.
Six Things Huskies Are …
1. Working dogs. Smart, curious, and easily bored, they need something to do. Without it, they are likely to do a job (digging, climbing and escaping are often involved).
2. Good character and affectionate. They love people and are always up for some fun.
3. Wired to work. Inattentive humans, insecure fences, open doors, and open doors can have dire consequences.
4. Independent thinkers. This is another hard-wired feature – bred to navigate with minimal human intervention, they’re prone to making their own decisions.
5. Super-shedders. These double-coated dogs need to be brushed… frequently.
6. Voice. Some people like to shout their “call of the wild”, others not so much.
Six Things Huskies Are not …
1. Watch dogs. They’ll be holding the door while thieves take over your television and computer.
2. Couch potatoes. They are all activity oriented, preferably one that involves running.
3. Concerned about what you want them to do. (Remember that “independent thinker” thing?) They can be trained, but it takes patience – a lot, a lot of patience.
4. Safe for small animals. Their interest in small furry or feathered creatures can be fatal for these creatures.
5. Suitable for apartment living or can be left alone for long periods. They are far too energy intensive to be confined to a small indoor space. And human company is a must; without it, they can be incredibly destructive.
6. Heat tolerant. Dressed for the cold, they can easily overheat when temperatures rise.
If, knowing all of this, you still want a Husky in your life, we encourage you to adopt from a rescue group or shelter; an online search is likely to find one in your neck of the woods. These groups work hard to save and care for as many dogs as possible, and to place them where they will thrive.
Learn more here
Bay Area Siberian Husky Club (BASH)
Siberian Husky Rescue in the Delaware Valley
Northern California Sled Dog Rescue (NorSled)