Whilst the dogs recover, the visitors are bursting with questions. How come some of the dogs have different coloured eyes, that is to say, one brown and one blue? How much does a husky really eat? What do they do in summer? Any and all uncertainty about the dogs is long gone...
When Sabina and Pete’s car rolls into the driveway, Emma is already at work, harnessing the dogs that are coming on today’s tour. Sabina and Pete come from Manchester, England. They have travelled to Skellefteå to experience winter for real. That means ice and snow and the subarctic lifestyle of the north. Today, dogsledding is on the schedule. Yesterday it was ice hockey – Skellefteå AIK vs. Färjestad BK. The western stalls. Where you can feel the local ice hockey culture in your entire body.
Myself, I would like to get a close-up picture of a pair of ice blue husky eyes. That turns out to be easier said than done. As soon as I lean in with the camera, the dogs would rather play than pose for pictures. Sure, it’s nice to have someone’s undivided attention, but it’s also a challenge to keep all the wet noses away from the camera lens.
– You’re welcome inside the kennel, says Emma after she has greeted Pete and Sabina.
– I’m not sure, says Sabina, with a somewhat anxious look at the wolf-like dogs.
She sticks her hand through the netting and Rigel, Emma’s big, long-haired husky is right there to greet her. Sabina instinctively pulls her hand back. Then she laughs.
Her reaction is far from unusual. If it’s the first time you have met a pack of huskies, of course you would be reserved. Of course, however, there is nothing to be afraid of.
– I think I’ll wait out here after all, she says and scratches Rigel behind the ear, through the netting.
The dogs know what’s waiting. Their enthusiasm is unmistakable. If you are a husky in Swedish Lapland there is no joy greater than pulling a sled as quickly as you can through snow covered forests. Pete and Sabina climb into the passenger seat on the sled. At the back of the sled, Emma gets ready to go. She loosens the snow anchor and off they go. There is a light snowfall and the temperature is just below zero.
The round that Emma and her guests are on takes 30 minutes. Whilst I wait, I take a look at my pictures.
– A few must be alright, I think to myself. However, most only contain an ear or a nose, at best, half an eye. Most are blurry or out of focus.
Then I see the sled between the pines. Sabina turns and says something to Pete who laughs, just as Emma brakes. The dogs come to a halt. Some lie down in the snow. Their tongues are hanging out. One or two swallow a mouthful of snow to quench their thirst.
– Fantastic, says Sabina with Pete nodding in agreement.
Whilst the dogs recover, the visitors are bursting with questions. How come some of the dogs have different coloured eyes, that is to say, one brown and one blue? How much does a husky really eat? What do they do in summer? Any and all uncertainty about the dogs is long gone. Sabina and Pete cannot resist their begging looks, asking to be scratched and petted. Sabina makes eye contact with Bettan. She tilts her white head with black markings, her ice blue eyes twinkling.
– Capitvating, she says as she puts her hands around Bettan’s face, looking deeply into her eyes.
I bring the camera’s viewfinder to my eye and take a picture.