Life

Increase in Abandoned Siberian Huskies Blamed on ‘Game of Thrones’

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Fans of the ‘Game of Thrones’ television show are falling in love with Siberian Huskies, adopting them and then abandoning them, some animal groups say.

Two little confessions here: I’ve never owned a Siberian Huskie and I’ve never watched an episode of Game of Thrones.

But the latter is causing a big problem for the former, according to dog advocacy groups.

WTOP reported that an increase of abandoned Huskies at animal shelters could be blamed on fans of the HBO series that features direwolves, an extinct wolf which Siberian Huskies resemble:

The problem: after the novelty wears off, many of these dogs are being abandoned at shelters.

It certainly isn’t the first time this sort of thing has happened.

The Cairn Terrier became a well-known breed because of Toto in The Wizard of Oz way back in 1939. The Rough Collie became a beloved figure to multiple generations of children because of the various film and television incarnations of Lassie. Disney’s 101 Dalmations led to similar concerns about Dalmatians. And The Artist launched the Jack Russell Terrier into the public eye.

But thanks, apparently, to Game of Thrones, it’s the Husky’s turn.

Finding the right pet means doing homework.

I’ve always loved the Rough Collie. The one I own now is the fourth one I’ve owned in my life. When I was a year old, my parents brought home a Collie puppy who immediately assumed the role of protector for me and treated me like I was her puppy, guarding me and herding me away from anything she thought might be dangerous.

But my parents didn’t choose the Collie because of Lassie.

In fact, my mom’s favorite breed of dog is the German Shepherd. She has never owned one. But she always has thought they are gorgeous dogs and knows of their fierce loyalty.

Because she did research about breeds before she chose one.

When my parents felt it was time to bring a dog into the home, they looked at dogs that were available at that time. When they saw the Collie puppies being advertised, they’d done enough homework to know about the breed’s temperament and particular compatibility with young children.

They went out to the working farm of the man who raised Collies, and whose adult Collies actually worked as herding dogs.

They made a choice that was well-informed, long before the internet was available.

Don’t choose a dog breed solely because of what you see on the screen.

Lassie was a very smart, very well-trained dog. The dog my parents brought home in 1970, while smart and loyal, could perform no tricks whatsoever.

She was one of the all-time greatest dogs I ever had, but only because we made a huge investment in time that we spent with her.

Episodes of Lassie never really showed how much training the dog had to go through to do what she seemed to do so “instinctively.” It also never seemed to show the vacuuming required to keep a Collie in the home. It’s amazing how much dog hair Collies, and all other double-coated dogs, can generate. Fortunately, I’m not allergic to pet dander, but someone who is won’t do well with many breeds of dogs.

Fortunately for me, my current Collie, while playful and energetic, is also equally content to lounge around and nap or snuggle. Some breeds don’t handle “quiet times” all that well.

The point is, you’re rarely — if ever — going to see a breed’s negatives depicted on the screen.

That’s why you research a breed before you make that decision. The American Kennel Club comes right out and says this about Siberian Huskies:

New owners should be prepared to provide an outlet for daily exercise.

They were bred, after all, to pull sleds all day, so that breeding means they need a way to burn up all that energy.

Other sites point out Huskies don’t like being alone and are more challenging that some other breeds for first-time owners. In the Information Age, there’s no excuse for not preparing with a little research.

If you’re thinking of bringing a new four-legged friend into your home, take the time to do the research first.

It’s not fair to the dog to be introduced inside a home and begin making a bond with a new owner, only to be dumped off in a shelter and face euthanasia because the owner didn’t prepare.

Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.