Husky Dog Sledding in Norway
Is dog sledding in Norway cruel? I m so torn, let’s have a look at my experience. Well finally, I made it to Norway, my final country, and I was doing it in style. I was staying in the famous Kirkenes Snow Hotel (sleeping on an ice bed, amazing!) and after much deliberation about animal welfare, I decided to go husky sledding in the Arctic Circle. This was before I turned more towards animal rights, and to this day I’m still torn as to whether this was an amazing experience or a cruel act. These animals are born to run, but is it fair they have to ‘work’ each day? I’m not sure, I’ll leave up to you guys to decide.
Birk Husky Cabins
I had flown all the way to the Arctic Circle, and after checking out of my snow hotel, I had decided to rent a cabin deep in the wilderness. There was a family-run business by the name of Birk Husky that I stumbled across when doing my research. These guys have cabins in the Norway/Russia border, deep in the forest, where your chances to see Northern Lights couldn’t be higher. They make local food for you and organise husky sledding too.
We arrived in the late afternoon and everyone checked-in. This place was just perfect. Isolated, snow covered and beautiful. It’s what you dream of when you think about the ‘Arctic Circle’. That evening the whole group had organised to go dog sledding together, so off we went.
The difference with Birk Husky is, with these guys you’re involved in the whole process. You have to organise all the leads, strapping the dogs in, setting up your sled etc So you see all that goes into it. These huskies are just so beautiful, it does sadden me to see them in their kennels, not being ‘free’, but I won’t get into that again!
We got set-up and off we went. We were dog sledding at night! We tore through the ice fields, Russia on one side, Norway on the other. The sky still quite light despite the sun setting, and it being 8pm or 9pm due to how ‘high’ we were on the globe. My girlfriend was in the seat and it was me in charge of the sled completely myself. A Birk Husky guide is at the front with their own sled, and same for the back of the group.
To be perfectly honest, it was an amazing evenings fun. Ethically, that’s a different matter but in the moment, hunting for Northern Lights as we race, my closest people around me, in my last country, it was a beautiful moment. The husky sledding lasted about 90 minutes, we headed back and
Choosing to go to the wilderness though, and staying in a Norwegian cabin in the forest. That’s something I would recommend 1000%. Not only are the chances to see Northern Lights awesome, because there is 0 light pollution, it’s also the true Norwegian Arctic experience.
That evening, Birk Husky took us to their wooden tee-pee, lit a fire inside and we all drunk champagne and red-wine while the staff cooked a local Norwegian broth over the fire pit. One of the best nights of my life, and as we were about to eat, someone screamed for us to go outside. Northern Lights had come to say hi, what a perfect end to the day.
ANIMAL WELFARE – Is Dog Sledding Cruel?
I’m on a personal journey to veganism/vegetarianism myself, and I love animals, especially dogs. I researched the welfare of dogs used in dog sledding and was really torn from both sides. It seems to me that it comes down to individual places whether it’s humane to dog sled or not. Some places treat their dogs like kings, and some chain them up like prisoners 23 hours per day. My advice would be to research the specific places you plan to do it at length before deciding whether or not to go through with it.
Personally, though, I don’t know where I stand. These animals LOVE to run, they love it. But equally, I hate to see animals chained up at all. Arguing with myself though, we all have to ‘work’ so perhaps it’s only fair that these animals earn their keep as well? Eurrrgh it’s a tough one, a really tough one. If I could click my fingers and the industry not exist, would I? Probably. But what would become of all the dogs? If it’s done properly, a few dogs with a local family, it’s ok. But mass husky riding? Not cool. And it’s so often not done properly. For that reason I’d be inclined not to do it again in all honesty.
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