An­i­mal crack­ers!

go! Ready, sleddy, go! The dogs bark and cry, ex­cited

Real People - - REAL PEOPLE -

Santa’s Carol’s pack could give money... rein­deer a run for their

Dash­ing through the snow, In a four-dog open sleigh, O’er the fields we go, Laugh­ing all the way… Well, there was no snow, but plenty of mud to dash around in!

Me and my team of huskies were Es­sex’s next best thing to Father Christ­mas and his rein­deer.

‘They’re hav­ing fun aren’t they?’ I shouted to my hus­band, Alan, 52, on the sled next to mine as we rat­tled through a field, bor­rowed from a lo­cal landowner.

It was win­ter 2017 and we were dry­land mush­ing – a ver­sion of dog sled­ding. My ‘sleigh’ was a three-wheeled rig – a bit like a tri­cy­cle – which I stood on as four huskies pulled me along. Alan’s was a scooter, with two dogs out in front.

It all be­gan 12 years ago, thanks to a man down the pub.

The land­lord at our lo­cal asked if his six-month-old husky could visit for a play date with our Ger­man shep­herd Ra­zor and Lurch the Lurcher.

The husky was called Wolf and lived up to his name – wild and not too keen on hu­man con­tact.

‘We can’t cope,’ the land­lord ad­mit­ted when I rang to ask about

drop­ping him back. ‘Could you keep him, Carol?’ I was torn. Yes, I’d trained Ger­man shep­herds but huskies were hard work, re­quir­ing a min­i­mum of two hours’ ex­er­cise a day.

They can’t be left alone for long as they go stir crazy.

But I was be­guiled by Wolf’s eyes – one blue and the other brown.

And the kids, Perry, 16, War­ren, 15, Tyler, 10, and Mitchell, eight, were all keen.

‘OK,’ I gulped.

We be­gan train­ing and gain­ing each oth­ers’ trust im­me­di­ately, but Wolf still had his mo­ments – rip­ping up the car­pet, pulling down cur­tains and chew­ing skirt­ing boards – but he was in­tel­li­gent and, in time, af­fec­tion­ate.

Soon peo­ple be­gan to con­tact me about other huskies in need.

I adopted Spirit, af­ter her own­ers had a baby; Taz, an un­wanted Christ­mas present; and An­gel, who some­one put a note through my door about.

The day af­ter she ar­rived, she leapt at our six-foot gar­den fence in pur­suit of a cat!

‘An­gel!’ I yelled, grab­bing her as she teetered on top of the fence. We had to ex­tend it af­ter that with four feet of trel­lis and wire… And we put child gates up in­doors. The dogs loved vis­i­tors but had to be in­tro­duced in pairs – oth­er­wise there was the risk guests might suf­fo­cate un­der a tan­gle of fur!

‘I could make a mu­ral of the huskies,’ a builder said while plas­ter­ing the out­side of our house.

‘OK,’ me and Alan agreed.

Soon we’d res­cued two more huskies – Sky and Hunter – and or­gan­ised chaos reigned.

There was the odd scrap – most mem­o­rably over a slug that An­gel found and Wolf wanted. Then Spirit de­cided to jump in!

‘Steady,’ I snapped, bang­ing two saucepans to­gether. Huskies have bags of en­ergy. So, when me and Alan dis­cov­ered dry­land mush­ing on the in­ter­net, we were in­trigued. It was the per­fect sport for huskies, we read, as the in­stinct to pull is in­nate in them…

We got the dogs used to wear­ing har­nesses and taught them ba­sic com­mands.

Then, one cold Novem­ber af­ter­noon, we took them out, se­cured them to the scooter – and they flew!

Wit­ness­ing their ex­hil­a­ra­tion at do­ing what they were bred for was a joy.

If Santa’s rein­deer ever needed a day off, the huskies would de­liver pressies in record speed.

But as cute as they are in win­ter huskies need lots of ex­er­cise, all year round. They’re for life, not just for Christ­mas!

Wolf’s an old man now, so hears about their ad­ven­tures from the com­fort of the sofa.

Driv­ing to the field in our van, the dogs bark and cry, ex­cited.

As we’re sort­ing out their har­nesses they fid­get and stamp their paws, as im­pa­tient as foot­ballers on the bench at a World Cup fi­nal.

But once they’re off, they’re off!

Mush, mush – my huskies are sleigh­ing it!

Carol Booty, 50, Chelms­ford,

Es­sex

Write to Real Peo­ple or email let­[email protected] re­alpeo­plemagazine.co.uk Send us your an­i­mal sto­ries, funny pics & pets of the week – there’s for each one we print!

We’ve got quite a pack of huskies now!

with Jane Com­mon

Our house re­ally stands out from the crowd!

Alan loves tak­ing the dogs out for a ride

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