Growing up, I always wanted a Siberian husky, so the opportunity to go husky trekking with Spruce Island Husky in Västerbotten, Sweden, was like a childhood dream come true.
Spending a few hours with 31 Siberian and Alaskan huskies is surely therapeutic, whatever ails you.
These dogs are adorable and friendly and bounce off the fences to go for a run (or at least a fast walk, as I soon discovered).
Arriving at Spruce Island Husky
“I love you all,” I proclaimed with arms wide open as we entered the outdoor kennel at Spruce Island Husky, a few minutes' drive from our lodging at Granö Beckasin.
There was a chorus of barking when the husky dogs smelled us entering their territory.
I tried to take it all in as they did their best to communicate an urgent desire to get out of their husky enclosures and run around.
These are trained sled dogs who've spent their whole lives associating groups of strange people with either going for a hike in the woods (during the warmer months) or dog sled tours (in the winter, from December to March).
Initially, we walked around and looked into the pens of these delightfully rambunctious creatures.
Some dogs jumped up on their hind legs to meet us at eye level, while others were happy to observe from their dog houses.
My initial impression was that these pups have been provided a loving home and are well-cared for, given the spacious pens, cleanliness of the grounds, and healthy appearance.
I later confirmed the Swedish authorities ensure kennels adhere to specific regulations, including the amount of space the dogs need.
I was a little surprised at how small they seemed, as I always imagined sled dogs to be larger, given they pull heavy loads long distances.
As we later learned, they are fed a special diet every fall to help them bulk up for the more strenuous winter tour season.
This change to their diet coincides with physical training on summer trails, where they pull ATVs instead of sleds.
The owner of Spruce Island Husky (pictured above) let four of the huskies out so we could go dog trekking with them in the surrounding forest.
Instead of letting out a dog for every person, it was easier to take half that number and have us take turns with them during the walk.
For this unique experience, each dog was outfitted with a special harness to pull stuff (like me) safely, and every human was given a waist belt to wear.
A stretchy cord with metal hooks connected the Siberian husky to its human.
The need for a stretchy cord was apparent once the fence to the outside world was slid open.
The team of huskies was off and running, or at least moving as quickly as possible, given the slower humans creating resistance.
Husky Trekking in the Woods
It's an exciting experience having one of these energetic dogs pulling you through the forest.
They only occasionally stopped to sniff one another or take a sip of water from a creek; otherwise, it was full steam ahead the whole time.
Going uphill was fine. However, you had to lean back on the downhill sections to ensure you didn't slip.
I noticed that some dogs leaned heavily to the left side while others leaned right.
Dogs, it turns out, can be left and right-handed (pawed?) just like humans.
I imagine it's essential to consider these tendencies when putting together a team of dogs to pull a sled.
Our expert guide, the company owner, said huskies only care about running, eating, and making puppies. Not a bad way to live life!
It was an instant physical release when I unclipped a husky from my belt to allow someone else to give husky trekking a try.
Only after you unhooked them did you see how much force they exerted.
The experience left me wanting to go dog sledding, and badly! At Spruce Island Husky, you're provided a sled and a team of dogs to mush!
Of course, instruction is provided, but you can take the reigns for a few hours (or days if a longer trip is of interest).
Related: Things to Do in Stockholm
Lunch with the Huskies
The experience only improved after we wrapped up our husky hiking in the woods.
Back in the safe confines of the kennel, more cute dogs were let out of their pens, and it was a full-on husky play party.
They ran full speed, panting, sniffing, peeing, and doing anything but standing still for pictures.
I took a break from trying to snap photos when we were offered hot drinks and organic vegetable soup cooked over an open fire. It felt appropriate, given the cool autumn weather.
After the soup, I discovered the secret to snapping photos of Siberian huskies — camp out next to the water bowl.
It was the only time they stood still long enough to get clear shots with my iPhone. And all of these photos were taken with my phone. Thank you, Apple.
Are you planning a trip to northern Sweden? If you schedule time in Västerbotten, I highly recommend including these dogs in your agenda.
Husky trekking during the warmer months and dog sledding under the northern lights in winter months with Spruce Island Husky can be booked through Granö Beckasin lodge.
To keep up with these adorable furballs, follow them on Instagram.
My tour of Västerbotten was arranged in partnership with the Adventure Travel Trade Association, Visit Västerbotten, and Granö Beckasin as part of my attendance at the 2019 Adventure Travel World Summit.