Ol’ Blue Eyes in Norway

I was sure I’d written about my day with the huskies a few years back but I’ve trawled through my posts and can’t find it, so here it is – maybe first time round.

Ol’ Blue Eyes – Husky

It was when I read Jo-Jo’s blog, Snow Capped Memories of Lapland, and she described how

“…the dogs were much smaller and less fluffy than the pet huskys I know. Strong and lean and frisky – like highly attuned race horses just itching to take off…” that I had a vivid recollection of my day with the huskies. I, too, was surprised that the huskies were lean and much smaller than I had imagined but I was told that these are the real working dogs of northern Norway, not the heavily fur-coated ones we see on TV and films.

We had made the 25 minute journey from Trondheim for a day with the huskies at TROMSØ VILLMARKSSENTER, located on Kvaløya (the Whale Island), one of the biggest adventure companies in Norway. The centre offers dog sledding trips and northern lights safaris, lasting from 4 hours to 5 days in the winter (Nov 1st –  April 30th) and kayaking trips and mountain hikes in the summer (May 1st – Oct 31st) the main focus being an authentic wildlife experience with the help of their 300 huskies.

Tove Sørensen, the owner, founded the centre in 2006, the year in which she competed in the world’s longest dog sled race in Alaska, the Iditarod, and in which she won the “most inspirational musher” award. She has over 20 years experience with dog sledding and when we met her in 2018 she had already competed 16 times in the European longest dog sled race, Finnmarksløpet.

Just to prove it was summer

Although our visit was in June it had been raining for some days and the place was a morass. It rained all the time we were there and it was very cold forcing us to don all the warm clothes we had brought with us.

Despite the cold however, we all had smiles on our faces because the huskies were so friendly and welcoming, jumping up and covering us in mud, demanding cuddles and trying to get as close as they could. They were like children, burrowing into your arms and resting their heads any place they found, your neck, the crook of your elbow, inside your coat, all the time demanding you pet them. You ventured near them at your peril – the peril that is, of being licked to death and covered in dirty paw-marks.

All were small, all were lean, and the heavy rain had flattened their coats so that hardly a hair stood up. Each one occupied a kennel to which it was chained but they all looked contented and were obviously well-fed. The puppies were adorable but refused to wake up while we were there. I was told they need a lot of sleep when they are young. They start training when they are six months old and are taken out for 1 hour a day to start with, increasing in half-hourly increments until they can join a main sledding group.

One blue eye keeps an eye on the sleeping puppies

You can see from my photographs how wet it was that day and how bedraggled the dogs and their visitors looked. I was lucky enough to be wearing trainers but some of the sandal-clad visitors fared badly, one or two slipping in the mud.

Reindeer skins for sale in the on-site shop

Should you fancy a trip to see these lovely, friendly huskies, details are below. There is a small cafe on the site and a shop selling ethnic garments (wooly hats, scares, mittens, gloves, boots, skins and suchlike), you get a chance to see an excellent film about huskie sledding and racing, and you can, of course, stay overnight.

Phone:+47 77 69 60 02 Mobile: +47 91 38 74 56 email: mail@villmarkssenter.no

 Adress:   Tromsø Villmarkssenter Håkøybotn,   9100 Kvaløysletta

Web:  http://www.villmarkssenter.no

Phone+47 77 69 60 02 Mobil+47 91 38 74 56 Fax+47 77 69 60 39

Email: mail@villmarkssenter.no