Antarctic Tales: Never Ignore a Husky

Darrel Westbrook

The Huskies of Antarctica—the snow dogs—earned their place in history in the heroic age of man’s first attempt to reach the South Pole. Since then, advances in mechanized transport and budget cuts caused New Zealand’s Scott Base to end the snow dog program. Fortunately, I was stationed at McMurdo before that happened. Scott Base is about 3-5 miles from McMurdo, close enough to include a tour of their facilities, including their dog lines, for VIP visitors.

Huskies are friendly and love to be petted. When you stop petting, you must make sure you move outside the dog lines, for huskies don’t like to be ignored. They certainly don’t get vicious or attempt to attack. They are much more subtle. I recall an episode when I accompanied Dr. Ed Todd, Director of Polar Programs, National Science Foundation, and a group of VIPs on a visit to the dog lines. Dr. Todd certainly knew better than to ignore a husky being petted, but he became distracted while talking to a VIP. His distraction ended when the husky raised his rear leg and urinated on Dr. Todd’s leg; a husky’s favorite way of regaining your attention.