Reader Requests Siberian Advice

Today, we are doing something different.  We had a reader contact us for some advice and, with their permission, we are reposting most of their message (editing out the personally identifying information) and asking our readers to weigh in.  You see, we have learned so much from all of you through your comments and blog posts that we wanted to share your wisdom. So read the note that follows and then weight in with your comments.

*****     *****     *****     *****     *****

Greetings!  I am hoping you could give me some advice.

Recently we’ve been fostering a husky. My son’s roommate found him while hiking. He had no tags, no collar, so he brought him back home. They kept him in their apartment and loved, loved, loved him. They took him to the vet, got his shots and chipped. He is such a good dog despite the fact that he did act out a lot being cooped up in an apartment and the guys working fulltime. However, the apartment folks were not so accommodating or understanding about it and told him he had to go. They have a lease they have to fulfill, so we have now taken him in. Our dogs recently died (of old age) and having him around has been a wonderful blessing. It has also been a tremendous learning curve having a Siberian Husky. We have gotten our Husky 101 (and 2 and 3….) from many resources on the web. It has been so interesting. And we have to say, after having a total of three pound or mix dogs in our lives, we are in love with the breed.

While we (arrogantly/selfishly) think he’d be better off with us–and are completely smitten with him–truth is, they fully intend on trying to find a place when their lease is up so they can have him back. We are doing our best to keep our heads and hearts around this foster situation. But it has been so much fun to be around his temperament. He is wonderful. We are faithful in walking him twice a day, and we have a good-sized and secure (now!) yard.

But, we think he needs a buddy. Certainly we would get him one if the boys said we could have him permanently. But now, being so smitten with him as a dog and the breed in general, we are debating bringing another (rescue) husky in. However, we are wondering how it will be when they finally do take him back (their lease is up in August 2012. Yes, I know, a long time). I’ve read they don’t become particularly attached to one person. Would that be true for another dog as well? 

Yes we’ve played the scenario out…but we need some advice from someone who knows the breed better.

If you think it a viable option to get another husky, what do you suggest? male/female? young/adult?

Thank you so much for your time. We’d appreciate any advice or reference you can give.

*****     *****     *****     *****     *****

Ok, dear readers, how would you answer?

17 Comments

  1. Linda on December 8, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    I wouldn’t hesitate to get another Husky. You would be best adding a female rather than another male. The other thing I would consider as far as returning the one you have now back to the boys is where they move to next. Husky need room and if they can get out, they will roam on their own. That may be why he was lost in the first place. He could have easily lost his collar. You want to be more concerned about what’s best for the dog more than what’s best for the humans involved. A cooped up Husky can be very destructive and unhappy. They are a breed that loves to run, thrives in a pack environment and needs exercise. And they need the human to be their pack leader. If you let the husky be the alpha, you’ll be in trouble.

    My two huskies were my pride and joy! Good temperament, easy going and very smart.

  2. The Ao4 on December 8, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    We ditto a lot of what Rocco said, too. Auditioning to find the right fit for your husky is great! In GENERAL terms, huskies LOVE being around other huskies. Mine have all thrived on the whole “pack” thing.
    If you aren’t sure your son will let you keep the husky you have, why not consider fostering a husky for a rescue group? Instant buddy for him AND you help another pup in need.
    Just a quick thought. Good luck!
    KZK for Zim and Dave

  3. julie on December 8, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Huskies are a handful as it seems your readers have already discovered. But they are wonderful, loving animals and a pleasure to have as part of your family if you have the time and space for them. They need to be active, whether it’s hiking, biking, skiing, sledding or just playing in the yard. And from my experience they are very much pack oriented. If they don’t have other dogs in their pack, their people become their pack. I started out with one. She loves people but she’s not a huge fan of other dogs. The second one I brought home loves other dogs but is cautious of people. The hierarchy was quickly established and today the two are best buddies, each with their own priorities and personalities. My neighbors say the younger one cries non stop when I take the other to the vet or someplace without her. So, to weigh in on the question, if you are thinking of getting another husky to join the pack, be prepared for some separation anxiety to occur if one of them leaves. Or, be prepared for each dog to need to develop a new pack – human or canine – once they are without that other dog.

  4. Connie Stockwell on December 8, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    Oh and to answer your question…
    I always have at least two dogs (usually three). They are not only good company for each other but exercise each other to a height that I could never achieve. Make sure your husky is not dog agressive and go for it.

  5. Connie Stockwell on December 8, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    When my daughter moved back in with me, I fell in love with the dog she brought with her. After a few months, I told her that when she moved out, Dakota stayed. I kept him when she needed me to and since I became so attached, I figured it was only fair. Dakota agreed since he had two other dogs here, a fenced yard and all the attention he could ask for. I say, tell them to find a new dog, this one is now yours.

  6. My Three Dogs on December 8, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Huskies are addictive and you are already hooked. Get another husky. If your son takes back the first dog then get a third husky. Dogs are pack animals (especially huskies) and they enjoy each other’s company. Multiple dogs are much happier then single dogs. I know this by experience.

  7. ARTpaws on December 8, 2011 at 11:09 am

    As mentioned, huskies are definitely pack animals, but each one is very individual. No two huskies are alike, and it is important to be sure that the two will enjoy each other’s company as complimentary personalities. They are also very intelligent and feeling dogs. It took me almost three years to gain the complete trust of a husky that was basically abandoned after his first owner died (wife wanted nothing to do with the dogs, and son simply fed them once a day is the only time they saw humans for close to 5 months). They do bond with people, and bond deeply if they trust you(as intelligent feeling beings this trust is earned). They also bond closely to other dogs, but as long as the owner they trust is with them, they will eventually adjust with much love and demonstrable trustful behavior.

    Good luck in what you decide.

  8. April Exner on December 8, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Go for it! Husky’s need companionship like no other dog I’ve ever met. We got our shepherd mix dog to keep our husky company and it was a match made in heaven. Our dogs are very bonded, though, and do not like to be apart, but we haven’t had the opportunity to spend “alone” time with each of them to foster that independence, so it might be different for you.

  9. huskymom on December 8, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Agree with Rocco–contact a rescue that will bring several dogs to “audition” with the current dog. If main idea is to get a companion for the dog, this is best way to check out play styles, dominance, etc. The dog the humans pick as their favorite might not be the one the dogs will choose between themselves. Sex or size/age not as important as complementary personalities (want to avoid too rowdy versus timid, etc.). Lucky dog to have such caring humans!

  10. Wild Dingo on December 8, 2011 at 9:55 am

    oh and that strong 1:1 bond that you’ve built would come in handy if the dog has to go back to his original home. the 2nd dog may miss the first one, but because he has that strong bond with Mom, maybe some emotional needs can be taken care of in that capacity.

    the thing is, if you just adopt the 2nd dog and hope they’re good company for eachother, they find solice in eachother when the humans are away. or even when the humans are around. but if that special bond isn’t there with the human, and it really does need to be cultivated separately, as in, with each dog, not both dogs together, then once the dog loses the 1st dog, he still has a emotional bond to the human and emotional needs are met.

    i walk my dogs as a pack but i work with them separately all the time. sometimes i bike them separately or train them separately or take them to classes separately. it’s good for them. and you.

  11. Wild Dingo on December 8, 2011 at 9:50 am

    this is interesting question and i have learned from some husky owners that huskies ABSOLUTELY need another dog or more than one other. they are truly more pack oriented than people. tho it can be argued that some huskies really do attach to people (mine FINALLY did after so much work). but anyway, what i heard from people that own them as sled dogs, that they do really prefer other huskies or at the very least a dog similar in size and looks (so a GSD or australian shepherd or even labs)… they appreciate the company. I applaud this person for wanting to find another dog for this one but even so, even if that dog goes back to the original people, it can’t hurt to adopt antoher husky, i think. but they are right to be concerned about he effect on the two if they are eventually separated. some dogs may be ok with it. others may be attached to eachother. i think a lot depends on the specific character of the dog, not necessarily the breed, in terms of what happens if they lose their buddy to another home. if you decide to get a 2nd dog while this one is still in your home, what you can do is build a very strong 1:1 bond with each one individually w/o the other so that if the first one goes back to the owner, that bond with YOU is still in place and strong. you’d have to do lots of 1:1 time specifically for that dog without the other. and for both of them if possible. (so taking 1 to a class, or separate walks or spending time in the garden training one with games while one stays in the house). as huskies, at first you’ll get a LOT of protesting about that, but over time, they get over it and learn they will have their own 1:1 time with the mom. that could be a solution for the interim. just really building that separate bond to YOU in each dog separately. and in fact, it’s probably a healthy thing to do for most owners of dog packs.

  12. Donna Stansberry on December 8, 2011 at 9:40 am

    I think my humans, most dogs adjust to situations. Getting another dog would probably be a good idea, and even if the “foster” dog isn’t able to stay with you, you won’t have a problem keeping the second dog. I have health issues, and can’t get out with my dogs like I would like to, but they don’t seem to mind. I have 2 huskies and they have their individual personalities. Yes, because they are the same breed, they share some similarities, but they are still individuals.

  13. Angie on December 8, 2011 at 9:30 am

    Go for it get another HUSKY for him…we came across the breed by dumb luck we had lost 2 of our dogs that year and we were going for pictures with santa at a local shelter and saw him…KING a stricking black & white did all the paper work and brough him home knowing NOTHING about the breed…he is a large boy at 85 pounds…he is as sweet as he is large….then got a little female who no one wanted becuse of her age she was 11 when we adopited her….they are with out a dought the sweest breed funny charming silly active silly great dogs….we also have goldens and shepards…I will for ever more have huskies…for ever and ever….

  14. Rocco on December 8, 2011 at 8:59 am

    A lot of rescues like Taysia Blue Siberian Husky Rescue here in Omaha will bring several dogs out to meet your resident dog before choosing the “one” to be your new dog. This way you get the best possible match.

  15. Liz M on December 8, 2011 at 8:42 am

    Great advice. No one Sibe is the same as another, they have individual temperments and needs. We adopted a pound puppy to provde company for our 7 year old Sibe. She likes the new pup and plays with him like crazy but she is still Daddy’s girl.

  16. houndstooth on December 8, 2011 at 7:18 am

    My advice about adding another dog is that every dog is different, just like people. Some dogs prefer the company of their same gender, and some prefer the opposite. I’d watch him when you take him out in public to see if he seems drawn to male or female dogs.

    As far as the issue with giving him up, I hope that the guys are coming by to see him a lot. It should make the transition a lot easier for him, and you, too, really. Seeing him happy with those he considers his pack helps to keep you grounded. Then again, they might decided in the end that he is better off with you!

  17. Ice 'n Ayla on December 8, 2011 at 5:41 am

    I guess my first reaction would be to say yes, go ahead and get another Husky, whether or not you are able to keep the first one. We adopted Ayla first, as a small puppy, and it was three years later when we adopted Ayla’s father, Ice. When we first got Ayla, we were able to give her the exercise a Husky needs so badly, but within a oouple of years, my arthritis became so bad I could no longer take her on long rambles. So, the breeder (and friend) we got her from offered to give us Ice for company for Ayla, and they have been great company for one another, BUT — Ayla is still “MY” girl. It’s not true that Siberians don’t become attached to one person. Before Ice’n Ayla, I had first, Chinook, and she was definitely MY “pretty lady”. After we sent her across the Rainbow Bridge at 13 years old, we adopted Kiah, another Siberian (is there any other breed?) and we had her until SHE crossed the Rainbow Bridge, also at the age of 13. My husband and I were much younger then, of course, and able to run, walk, ramble, hike with them. Now, however, having both Ice ‘n Ayla has been a blessing, because though they run and play together, they are both, individually, in their own way, MY “Fur Kidz”, though both are also attached to my husband and (adult) son. IF you are able to keep the two dogs, they will be company for one another, but IF you end up having to let the boys take the first one again, you will have the love and affection of the second one, and given ENOUGH love and affection by their humans, both dogs should adjust just fine. We still take both Ice ‘n Ayla out to the kennels where they were born, and they LOVE to run and play with the rest of their family — BUT, they are ALWAYS more than happy to come “home” again, too. I hope this helps a bit.
    Gail Thiessen, Dawson Creek BC Canada

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