Last week, our leadership team gathered at the lovely La Casita del Arroyo to discuss strategic plans for furthering our mission over the next three years.
If you are not familiar with La Casita del Arroyo, it is a Pasadena city-owned property available for event rental. It sits in the woods above the arroyo and is a peaceful bucolic setting, perfect for a day of retreating from the shelter to brainstorm.
As we were deep in thought about how to increase the number of lost dogs being returned to their owners, our mission was brought to life by a woman who walked in the door with a husky mix in tow and said, “I just found this dog running in the road.”
Our surprise by the interruption quickly turned into disbelief at the irony of the situation. It was hard to imagine how this lost dog and the Good Samaritan who found him wandered into an offsite meeting of the leaders of Pasadena Humane.
The mystery was soon solved. A couple of animal control vehicles were parked outside La Casita — a billboard, if you will, that Pasadena Humane was onsite.
Warm laughter and lots of petting ensued as the friendly dog wandered throughout the meeting space greeting everyone. Our facilitator, Jim Tedford, the president and CEO of the Association for the Advancement of Animal Welfare, admitted he had never seen anything quite like it in his 39 years working in our industry.
I’m sure a few of us were tempted to adopt the dog on the spot. Fortunately, before anyone got too attached, one of our Lead Animal Control Officers scanned the dog and discovered he had a microchip, which is one of the easiest ways for our officers to give a dog a ride home.
But, no one answered when our officer called the number registered to the microchip. So, the dog was taken to the safety of the shelter until the owner returned the call, and then Mason was quickly reunited with his loving family.
Mason’s arrival at the shelter is part of what I would call a recent “husky tidal wave” in shelters across the country. Nearly a quarter of the large dogs available for adoption at Pasadena Humane are huskies or husky mixes.
Some theories as to why we are seeing a husky influx are tied to the popularity of Game of Thrones. The TV show’s intelligent and loyal dire wolves are portrayed by husky-like dogs.
It may also be huskies’ Houdini-level escape artist skills that lead to them entering shelters in such high numbers. Left alone with little to do, huskies can easily scale high fences, dig holes under fences, and find other ways to get out of your yard.
Huskies have high exercise requirements thanks to their origins as sled-pulling dogs in the Arctic. They need regular mental stimulation to keep them content. Huskies also thrive on the companionship of people and other dogs and, without it, are prone to boredom and mischief.
With regular exercise and companionship, huskies make excellent family pets. One of my first pets as a child was a sweetheart husky mix named Moses who loved to howl when my sister played the harmonica.
Huskies can even be trained to mimic human speech. One famous husky named Mishka went viral many years ago for saying, “I love you” to her owners.
Speaking of love, now through Feb. 15 as part of our “Be Mine” Valentine’s Day adoption promotion, all big dogs, including huskies, are just $14 to adopt.
View adoptable dogs and make an adoption appointment at pasadenahumane.org/pets
Dia DuVernet is president and CEO of Pasadena Humane.
This blog post originally appeared as a column in the Pasadena Star-News on February 10, 2023.