Winter is coming, and for several Siberian huskies, Alaskan malamutes and other breeds purchased by fans of HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” a life of cold cages and insecurity may be as well.
The direwolves created by George R. R. Martin in his “A Song of Ice and Fire” written works have been translated into several northern Inuit dogs and a single Arctic wolf in the HBO series. They’re known for their steadfast loyalty, veracity, and imposing size in both versions of the story, and the show continues to draw millions of viewers. Animals that look like direwolves have become accordingly more popular as pets.
Shelters and rescue organizations have noticed an increase in surrendered and abandoned huskies and similar-looking dogs, the Dodo reports, ever since the show began its run in 2011.
“There’s been an increase over the last several years, and the last three in particular,” Angelique Miller, president of Northern California Sled Dog Rescue (NorSled) told The Dodo. “Last year and this year we’ve really seen an increase that’s about twice what we would normally see.”
Miller’s organization has seen a number of Siberian huskies, Alaskan malamutes, and other northern breeds named after characters and direwolves from GoT. But however enjoyable the pop culture phenomenon is to fans of the fantasy, Westeros remains just that, and irresponsible adoptions are too often the result.
“At our adoption fair on Saturday, this young couple were just walking by and they stopped,” Miller said. “They looked at our huskies, and the first words out of the guy’s mouth was ‘direwolves.’ It’s pretty obvious, too, because people come by the fairs, and they want to know if the dogs have any wolf in them because they can’t really tell the difference between a husky, a malamute and a wolf.”
Fluffy grey, black, and white coats make for cute puppies, but responsible pet owners must also consider their future with the same fluff as it grows in size and needs.
“They’re so cute in the shows, so a lot of people go and buy these dogs as puppies, but they don’t do any research on the breed,” Miller continued. “This is not a breed for everybody. The breed is very active. They have a lot of energy, so they need a lot of exercise. They have an extremely high prey drive. So we will not adopt these dogs out to anyone who has any type of small animal.”
A husky’s thick coat also needs regular brushing, according to the American Kennel Club, all added responsibilities that can quickly turn unprepared animal owners off after their husky pups grow up.
“They are escape artists, too, so if they get bored, they’ll get under your fence,” Miller added. “And they are pack animals. They do like to be with other dogs, and they do like to be with humans, and they like to be inside with you when you’re home.”
In southern California, and anywhere else you can get HBO, husky-type dogs are experiencing a similar spike in surrenders.
“I already wanted a husky because of Balto when I was a kid, but I wanted to name her Stark,” Angelica Ingaunzo told ABC 13 when a reporter from the station visited the Bay Area Siberian Husky Club.
Ingaunzo adopted a pomsky, part pomeranian, part husky, after admitting a husky was out of her range of capable pet parenting. The Husky Club has seen an increase in husky adoption by 300 percent since the show first aired and offers potential owners the chance to spend time with the dogs before they make the decision to adopt.
Siberian Huskies, Alaskan malamutes and other similar breeds are well adapted to life in the cold weather, but scientists are just now finding out how well they, and the rest of their canine cousins, can see in the dark as well. You may be surprised to learn all these animals can see. Click the button below to read more!
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.
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