Hetta Huskies program for retired sled dogs

Gliding with sleds and dogs through white winter landscapes. This branch of tourism is trendy.
Sled dogs work hard all their lives to make such adventures possible for (us) tourists. With approx. 10 years, sometimes already earlier, efficiency and running joy diminish. Once at this point, these dogs often have no more future. They get ” the bullet “…. This happens not only in Alaska and Canada but unfortunately also in Europe.
But not with Hetta Huskies. The owners of the farm are following a “no cull (kill)” policy. They are looking for a new home for their oldies and those who cannot find one or cannot be placed for other reasons stay on the farm. There is a sponsorship program for these dogs.
I don’t know exactly how many Hetta Huskies have already found a new home but they are spread all over the world: Finland – Germany – Great Britain – Ireland – France – USA and Canada. In Switzerland alone 8 of them have found “their new people”!
The Hetta Huskies Adoption Follow Up Form shows that the commitment does not end with the handover of the dogs to the new owners – here at the example of Varna. They also maintain a Facebook group “Hetta Huskies Rehomed” on which everyone can share their experiences.

Adoption Follow Up using the example of Varna:

What does your Hetta husky spend most of their time doing?

  • He loves to hang around, being lazy, sleep or just keep an eye on what’s going on around him
  • „reading the news“ on his daily walks (twice a day)

New things that your sled dog (and you) have learned since the adoption:

  • He learned that it’s cool to sleep on the bed (never tried the sofa so far), using elevators, cable cars, roam around free inside and explore his new living space, walking stairs….
  • He had to learn that I am not a sled on the other end of the leash (sometimes he forgets…)

The most challenging aspect of adopting a sled dog:

  • As Varna was (is) a shy dog, the biggest challenge was to gain his confidence and make him feel comfortable in his new home.
  • From his previous life as a working dog, Varna had a deficit of knowledge of many little things in our daily life e.g. walking stairs, move around free in the house, cats, little dogs etc. all this needs time and patience but is worth it!

Suggestions for other people thinking about adopting a retired sled dog:

  • It is good to know something about the character of sleddogs in general (Siberians, Malamutes and maybe other possible involved breeds as Laikas etc. for example when adopting an Alaskan)
  • TIME! It is important to have time. Best is , when your retired sleddie can join you as much as possible. They don’t like to be alone and they are so thankful when you have time to introduce them with patience to all the new things in their new life. If you adopt an oldie, it’s like „re-educate grandpa“
  • If you adopt a shy dog, give them space. They might not like to much of cuddles right away, don’t be disappointed it will come step by step.

Any unexpected behaviour or health findings since the adoption:

  • We knew Varna before adoption, as he was in our team twice. In fact he is less shy than we expected him to be but he has his ups and downs. He can be very funny when he shows joy and he has his own style of communication like rumble and snarl instead of ordinary barking.
  • He also has some difficulties to chew hard things although he has no plaque – maybe it’s more kind of a „bite inhibition“

Additional comments:
We should always remember that these retired sled dogs had been working all their life to provide people good adventures, that they lived outside in all conditions, all their life and that therefore they all deserve to spend a good retirement on a comfy sofa with much love and care.