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Doc Watson: A primer on the Siberian Husky

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huskies winter walk 2016

Many of you have heard me talking about my Siberian Husky dogs on the air. Some of you have seen me walking some combination of them over the years in North Peoria. We have three currently.

Our oldest, Sky, is 12 years old and came into our lives when we purchased our first set as Christmas gifts for our kids in 2004. My wife’s mom was living with us, nearing the end of her 4-year battle with cancer, and we were too exhausted to Christmas shop that year! His brother, Dakota, died unexpectedly, a couple months short of his 9th birthday, due to a brain tumor that was pushing against his nasal cavity. We thought we would get Sky a running mate some months down the line, but only lasted three, sad weeks before re-upping with another totally adorable set of husky puppies, Vance and Saber, three years ago.

I tallied up the mileage from our 2016 walks recently and the total was 177.3 miles, about the distance from Peoria to Chicago. They are an active, lovable breed and like to be walked. That’s why I think they should be bought in pairs, so they have a buddy to play, run and wrestle with. Also, if you’re thinking about owning a husky, know that they are expert escape artists. Our first pair learned they could leap over our four-foot chain link fence like a deer, so we had to sleeve over it with larger poles and install a six-foot fence.

The other morning, with my jaw still emanating pain from having a molar pulled the day before, I was walking my three boys in zero-degree wind chill weather. One car pulled up next to me, wanting to talk. Usually, I’m chatty and an ambassador for Huskies and dog ownership, in general. Not so much this morning, as the wind ripped through my cheeks, drawing tears.

So, in the interest of saving myself from frostbite on days like this and not wanting to seem reticent, here are some common answers I give to questions fielded while walking the huskies, some borrowed from the website Indy Homes for Huskies,a Siberian Husky rescue dog operation in Indianapolis, just a four hour drive from here. If we ever want another dog, we’ll adopt one from there or our local Peoria County Animal Protection Services, formerly called PAWS, as we did with our first dog and cat we adopted in 1998.

Below are some common responses I give to Frequently Asked Questions about huskies

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  • They are huskies, not wolf dogs. We had a wild, part-wolf dog, Sparky, given to us by our Toledo babysitter when we arrived in Peoria, but the pound said wolf-breeds are illegal in this state. Sparky went to heaven too soon.
  • Huskies are not Alaskan Malamutes, a slightly larger, thicker-haired, similar-looking breed.
  • No, they don’t bite, but they might jump on you. They like people.
  • Yes, they are walking me.
  • No, their pulling is actually not lack of training. They were bred to be that way. They do settle down and pull less about a half mile into our walks.
  • Ours cost around $300 per dog and are cheaper when you don’t require their papers (for breeding, which we had no intention of doing with them)
  • Yes, I’ve seen Snow Dogs, made me cry. Cuba Gooding Jr. is one fine actor.
  • Both our breeders were from western Illinois and found by my wife on the internet. Both said they were on their last litter and not breeding any more.
  • No, not all huskies have blue eyes, and their hair is not always black and white.
  • Yes, there are other breeds of blue-eyed dogs. Our first Peoria pound dog, Chance, had beautiful blue eyes. She was a mutt.
  • They don’t bark much, but like to howl – or “talk” as we prefer to think.
  • No, I don’t want to sell them or breed them with your dog.
  • Yes, they shed – a lot. We were told by the breeder that they’d have one big “blow out” each year. Not true; ours shed year round.

Hope this helps. They are wonderful dogs, very adorable, and show just the right amount of affection. I wouldn’t recommend them unless you have a fenced-in yard. Our vets have said they should never be allowed out without a leash on, as they will run and run when they get loose. It’s frightening when it happens and our family goes into serious DEFCON recovery mode.

On one occasion, our original pair, Sky and Dakota, were not found by us. They ran across busy University Avenue, we’re told, and eventually crossed back and were discovered by a couple neighborhood young girls who had seen them on our walks. They returned them to us, but it was very scary!

About the Author
Doc Watson likes to say he's not a real doctor, "but I play one on the radio." A native of Allen Park, Mich., he became a transplanted Peorian in 1996 when he came here to start the Morning Mix TV/radio simulcast show. Now he's a jock with 95.5 GLO and is " happy to be playing the music of my misguided youth." Though known for his voice, he occasionally dabbles with the written word and does that pretty well, too.