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10 Warm Facts About Huskies

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Siberian huskies are known for their wolfish good looks, but deep down, they're all dog. 

1. Huskies are born to run.

When the semi-nomadic Chukchi people of Siberia had to expand their hunting grounds some 3000 years ago, they sought to breed the ideal sled dog. These dogs had to have endurance, a high tolerance to cold, and the ability to survive on very little food. The resulting pups could carry loads over long distances without food or warmth. While there is controversy as to how pure the lineage is, Siberian huskies are widely believed to be the closest to the original Chukchi dogs.

2. Their skills impressed Alaskans.

Huskies made their American debut at the second year of the All Alaska Sweepstakes Race in 1909. Rumor had it that these canines were superior sled dogs; they proved the gossip true by dominating the racing competitions in Alaska for the following decade.

3. A lot of features help keep them warm.

Huskies have a thick double coat that keeps them well insulated. Their undercoat is short and warm, while the overcoat is long and water-resistant. Their almond-shaped eyes allow them to squint to keep out snow. Huskies will wrap their tails around their faces while they sleep; their breath warms the tail and keeps the nose and face protected from the cold.

4. A group saved a small town in Alaska.

In 1925, the children of Nome came down with the widely feared disease called diphtheria. The closest anti-toxin was 1000 miles away in a hospital in Anchorage. The train could only take the medicine so far, and it was up to mushers with teams of sled dogs to transport the package the remaining 674 miles.

Twenty mushers and their sled dogs battled the bitter cold in a relay to get the medicine there safely. It took 127.5 hours to complete the mission, but the medicine made it to the village. The final leg was completed by a black Siberian husky and his team. When finally reaching their destination, the dogs were hailed as heroes and appeared in newspapers across the country.

If this story sounds familiar, you might remember it from the animated movie, Balto. You can see a statue of Balto in New York's Central Park (the real Balto is stuffed and mounted at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History). 

5. They’re not great watchdogs.

Huskies are not one-person dogs—they're unsuspicious and friendly to strangers. This can be charming, but it's not very helpful when you’re looking for a canine sentry. Of course, their fierce wolf-like features might be enough to deter any intruders.

6. Huskies don’t get fatigued.

Huskies often run long distances on very little food. When humans attempt this, we start to use our body’s glycogen and fat and eventually get fatigued. But huskies burn a lot of calories without ever tapping into these other energy stores—and they do this by regulating their metabolism.

“Before the race, the dogs’ metabolic makeup is similar to humans. Then suddenly they throw a switch—we don’t know what it is yet—that reverses all of that,” animal exercise researcher Dr. Michael S. Davis told the New York Times. “In a 24-hour period, they go back to the same type of metabolic baseline you see in resting subjects. But it’s while they are running 100 miles a day.”

7. You need to watch them closely.

These pups love to run and explore. They're known to be escape artists and are capable of digging under fences and slipping out of leashes.

8. The army used them.

During WWII, the army employed the pups as search and rescue dogs. They were also used for transportation, freighting, and communication.

9. They’re closely related to wolves.

Studies say that the shiba inu and the chow chow share the most DNA with the grey wolf. Coming in near the top is the Siberian husky. That said, huskies are domesticated dogs and have evolved separately from their wild cousins for thousands of years.

10. Blue eyes make them distinct.

Not many dog breeds can boast piercing blue eyes. Some dogs—like the Australian shepherd or Weimaraner—have them thanks to the merle gene, which results in the loss of pigmentation. But huskies can have bright eyes without that gene.

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Mark Ralston, AFP/Getty Images
How a Hairdresser Found a Way to Fight Oil Spills With Hair Clippings
Mark Ralston, AFP/Getty Images
Mark Ralston, AFP/Getty Images

The Exxon Valdez oil tanker made global news in 1989 when it dumped millions of gallons of crude oil into the waters off Alaska's coast. As experts were figuring out the best ways to handle the ecological disaster, a hairdresser from Alabama named Phil McCroy was tinkering with ideas of his own. His solution, a stocking stuffed with hair clippings, was an early version of a clean-up method that's used at real oil spill sites today, according to Vox.

Hair booms are sock-like tubes stuffed with recycled hair, fur, and wool clippings. Hair naturally soaks up oil; most of the time it's sebum, an oil secreted from our sebaceous glands, but it will attract crude oil as well. When hair booms are dragged through waters slicked with oil, they sop up all of that pollution in a way that's gentle on the environment.

The same properties that make hair a great clean-up tool at spills are also what make animals vulnerable. Marine life that depends on clean fur to stay warm can die if their coats are stained with oil that's hard to wash off. Footage of an otter covered in oil was actually what inspired Phil McCroy to come up with his hair-based invention.

Check out the full story from Vox in the video below.

[h/t Vox]

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Bristly
A New Chew Toy Will Help Your Dog Brush Its Own Teeth
Bristly
Bristly

Few pet owners are willing to sit down and brush their pet's teeth on a regular basis. (Most of us can barely convince ourselves to floss our own teeth, after all.) Even fewer pets are willing to sit calmly and let it happen. But pet dental care matters: I’ve personally spent more than $1000 in the last few years dealing with the fact that my cat’s teeth are rotting out of her head.

For dog owners struggling to brush poor Fido’s teeth, there’s a slightly better option. Bristly, a product currently being funded on Kickstarter, is a chew toy that acts as a toothbrush. The rubber stick, which can be slathered with doggie toothpaste, is outfitted with bristles that brush your dog’s teeth as it plays.

A French bulldog chews on a Bristly toy.
Bristly

Designed so your dog can use it without you lifting a finger, it’s shaped like a little pogo stick, with a flattened base that allows dogs to stabilize it with their paws as they hack at the bristled stick with their teeth. The bristles are coated in a meat flavoring to encourage dogs to chew.

An estimated 80 percent of dogs over the age of 3 have some kind of dental disease, so the chances that your dog could use some extra dental attention is very high. In addition to staving off expensive vet bills, brushing your dog's teeth can improve their smelly breath.

Bristly comes in three sizes as well as in a heavy-duty version made for dogs who are prone to ripping through anything they can get their jaws around. A Bristly stick costs $29 and is scheduled to start shipping in October. Get it here.

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