As every dog-owner knows, your chosen companion will take up a lot of time, but will also bring infinite joy to your life. We've already told you a little bit about our trio, but we felt compelled to bring you a bit more back story to them, especially Stalpi, seeing as he was our first. Be warned, some of the pictures here are seriously cute.
The above picture is not ours, originally. It popped up one day on Thomas' Facebook-feed as the header image of an ad placed by two former co-workers of Thomas from the husky lodge, Kim and Anne. When they left, they were allowed to bring an old dog with them, and now they had puppies! We had talked a little bit loosely about getting a dog, obviously, because we're both proper dog people at heart, but suddenly, here was a real chance from someone we knew, and that raised their puppies in a way we were familiar with. So, Thomas sent a message to inquire whether the puppy in question was still available, and immediately got a phone call back saying "yes, and we will save him for you if you are interested".
At the time, we were living in a cabin at Thomas' Uncle's farm. Jana had just finished a season processing cod in Lofoten, and Thomas was working as a carpenter for his uncle. Would we have time for a puppy? Money for food and vet bills? All the same questions that every new dog owner has to ask. For us, we already had a solid background of caring for dogs, having both grown up with one, and also the year(s) as mushers, so this was no problem. It took us all of 40 minutes to agree that yes, we would be getting a dog. If we didn't have the money, or time, or whatever else, we would cut back our own. So, one more phone call, and we had made a deal.
And so, we embarked on an 11-hour drive to Trondheim. Jana got to meet Kim and Anne for the first time, Thomas got reacquainted with them and also two dogs he worked with before, and we got to spend a few days getting to know Stalpi and his family. Our first impression of Stalpi was, for lack of a better word, loud... He was the loudest in the evening when he was getting hungry, and the first one to wake up in the morning, demanding to be fed. Out on walks though he was a bit shy when it came to new experiences, but very social with the other dogs. We suspect he was the culprit though, when during one of the walks the puppies suddenly disappeared, only to be found having fun with a discarded, very used diaper.... Not something you want to experience, trust us.
Loud screaming for food and disgusting exploration aside, after three days we started the journey back home with him. As a contrast to the very first experience with him, during the ride home he was very calm, and seemed to enjoy watching as the world sped past him. A puppy's first experiences are very important to how they eventually evolve as an adult, and to this day Stalpi is very comfortable in cars, and especially if he has a view. During a stop to make dinner we also managed to capture a moment that should have come as no surprise, with Stalpis love of food in mind.
The place we were living in at the time proved perfect for raising a puppy. The cabin had a large window and a big porch, and very soon we discovered Stalpis favourite pastime: Watching the world. He would sit for long stretches of time just watching, looking at the horses or the sheep moving around, or sometimes just staring off into the distance almost philosophically. He did have a playful side though, his favourite game being to bite and nibble our hands, or Sabakas ears after we got her. She took to him very quickly, becoming like a second mother to him.
We also discovered Stalpis love of water. That summer was very warm, so every day we would take them down to the local river to cool off. Very soon Stalpi started enjoying it, and to this day he loves swimming or playing around in water. As we said, positive first experiences will shape a dog for life.
As an adult, Stalpi is like most Alaskan huskies: Friendly, eager, hard-working. As an individual, he still loves to watch the world, usually from peaks or other vantage points. He absolutely loves food, to the point where he will almost take your fingers, and he is always interested in meeting new people. In our little pack he's taken on the role of protector, always making sure everyone's there and nothing dangerous can come close. But most of all, he is our giant teddy bear: No amount of cuddling will ever be enough for him.
Bonus: Short video of Thomas teaching Stalpi how to talk like a real husky.
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