The Outdoor Witch Blog
A life-changing experience at Bear Hill Husky in Rovaniemi, Finland
More than 5 months of volunteering at Bear Hill Husky is coming to an end. One of my dearest and richest experiences so far - and definitely a life-changing one. I’ve discovered a new world and fallen in love with it:
the world of sled dogs and mushing
Life at the kennel is made of hard work, long hours, rewarded by amazing rides with the sleds and the fantastic connection and work with the dogs. Some days were tough. Some were stressful, intense. But then.... a fantastic run with the dogs through the stunning winter landscapes of Lapland clears it all away and makes you wish for more!
I loved the work with the puppies, guiding them to their first steps as sled dogs as much as I loved the work with the retirees and doggies to rehome. Very involved in the rehoming project, it was really important for me to get the bigger picture and understand this world better, - the dogs, the mushers, the kennel owners, the reasons behind the rehoming, etc- to be able to find the best new homes for these dogs. And I still have LOTS to discover!
And I’ve also been able to take part in my very first mushing race with my team of adopted dogs - thanks to the little "push" from Valentijn and Veronika (!). What an amazing mind-blowing experience! Luv it!!!! As an ultra distance runner, I had just a blast taking part in such a fun event! I found it so rewarding and exciting to work and run together with the dogs and to make it as a team. Just can't wait for the next one!
I am now going to stay at Bear Hill Husky kennel for another couple of months, to take care of the 8 dogs I’m now in charge - Bob and Quint are mine, and the 6 others, Typy, Vinku, Hassu, Posh, Sporty and Baby owned by the Association,- and to keep working on the non-profit organisation for sled dogs that we’ve put into place.
Update on the rehoming situation
Together with the owners Valentijn and Veronika, and the help of the other employees and volunteers, some 35 dogs have been rehomed since last spring; 14 dogs of them since I arrived in November, mainly as pet dogs. Among these 35, 10 were dogs to be naturally retired, but 25 are related to the economic crisis due to Covid pandemic. A few of them are still available for adoption.
6 dogs were adopted by The Striders Adventures Association as “face of the foundation” and will keep running as sled dogs as they love it, trained and taken care of by myself.
Spread the word
The plan is to keep going and extend the rehoming of dogs support to other mushers, small kennels, and hopefully one day, to bigger kennels. It will work with your help, by spreading the word, and by becoming a member and donating to the charity so we can keep on offering this service.
For many years, I’ve been travelling and doing millions of things with my furry friends - dogs, cat and horse-, Mufasa, Sparta, Nyx, Milwyn and Ola. Animals are my friends, my tribe and the connection I feel with them is both hard to explain and so natural, so normal to me.
The charity I’ve co-founded with my husband, Marc Bandieri, to support and sponsor retired sled dogs seems like the natural progression. I’ve done many of my past sport events and expeditions to raise funds for animal welfare. Now, we’ve created one to support a cause that means a lot to us.
Sled dogs can be rehomed. Sled dogs can become amazing pet dogs.
Spread the word. Support no-kill policy kennels. Adopt a husky. Become a foster family. Sponsor a dog. Join the Striders Adventures Association.
Pallo, Dali, Juti, Buster, Wican, Buck, Quinto, Vyatchtka, Bob, Quint, Stu, Diesel, Biltong, Gru,…. let’s add more names to the list of the “happy rehomed husky” list!