Husky VolunteeringSeptember 5, 2015 in Germany
Unfortunately our lives as Husky dog handlers were short lived.......whilst we LOVED the dogs and didn't mind the work, the countless hours of sitting around, repetitive jobs and lack of appreciation encouraged us to leave early.
Basically our day would start at 7am with the commencement of the first dog run. There were a total of 27 dogs mixed between 7 kennels and each kennel would be released into the yard separately to prevent fights and also protect the dogs on 'heat' from being seduced by the boys. This gave us enough time to clean out the kennels and replace the beds with straw when required.
At 9am it was time for breakfast then we would clean the common areas and bathroom before starting other jobs (stockpiling dry dog food etc). It's 12pm, time for another dog run and add to the ever growing mountain of dog poo.
From 2pm to 4:30pm we would generally have lunch and play cards. There was 5 old dogs who now lived inside and needed someone to keep an eye on them (2 of the were epileptic and 1 had a massive cancer on her belly) so we couldn't really do anything. The only activity outside the farm was a 40 minute walk to the nearest town to buy a beer.
430pm was feeding time and ear plugs were recommended as the dogs loved to express their excitement for eating the same food everyday. It takes a lot longer than you think to feed 27 dogs and wash all the bowls! The last dog run of the day was 7pm and generally didn't last more than an hour as it was getting dark and cold.
The host (Sergeant Ben) has an employee (Christian) who we spend most of the day with and he's a top bloke. He taught us a lot about dog training which was really great but that doesn't make up for all the short falls.
During the colder months the work does become more interesting as the training for sled dog races in Norway starts. Sergeant Ben has a custom training sled and scooters for this task but it would still be a few weeks till it was cool enough not to burn out the dogs. Christian showed us how all the gear worked though which was cool. The closest we got to actually using the gear though was when Travis put the harness on and pretended to drag Suki on the dog scooter.
It was disappointing that we were not allowed in the family's house except for a small kitchenette/common room that didn't have a tap so you have to walk to the bathroom to fill up the tub to wash dishes then empty into the toilet etc. We cooked our own food and ate by ourselves and therefore there was no interaction with the family.. we could hear a lot of yelling going on between the parents and the 2 kids in the main house though so it was probably for the best!
We slept in the world smallest caravan on the other side of the farm which you have to unlock three gates to get there - also annoying. As soon as we arrived we were told we would have a dog sleep with us (his name is First) in the caravan.. "cool!" Suki thought..The catch is he needs full time supervision as he's old, epileptic and poos in his sleep. But having said that we fell in love with him and miss him everyday.
We loved the dogs and their personalities here but unfortunately that doesn't out weight the feeling of being in prison and feeling unappreciated. This is nothing like the volunteering we have done before.
We eventually summed up the courage to confront Sergeant Ben about how we felt and tell him that we're leaving (4 days into our 2 month stint). It actually went better than we expected (he didn't flip out, yell or throw us out) and whilst he was not apologetic he understood where we were coming from and was actually nice to us on our last few days. So we leave with mixed feelings..
First, Pauline, Kazimere, Inuk, Ete, Aiko, Brunick, Alois, Bearcreek, Gipsy, Piki, Puck, Flip, Balto, Willy, Yuna, Jannu, Maya, Boccia, Neiden, Whitey, Joatka, Ranja, Summit, Lotte, Eddie, Joop... We're gonna miss you all! (Except Balto... Still undecided about him!)Read more