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Dog from Svalbard is now Cat in Australia

Cat was born in the Arctic, and had a short career pulling the dogsled. Now she enjoys lazy days in Australia where hunting possums is one of his favorite passtime activities. FOTO: Private

Dog from Svalbard is now Cat in Australia

It's hard work being a sled dog in Svalbard. Fortunately, many of the four-footed laborers are enjoying a very fine retirement.



06.11.2015 kl 10:59

Svalbard's largest dog kennel, Green Dog Svalbard, retires numerous dogs every year. Some have become too old to continue the life they love, namely to run with the team. At that point it's good to have a dignified retirement.

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Karina Bernlow and Martin Munck at Green Dog offer retired dogs to families who want a pet. The dogs make good four-legged companions after their life in the kennel. FOTO: Line Nagell Ylvisåker

"Some dogs who can not pull the sled anymore still have much left to give as family pets," said Martin Munck, a co-founder and guide at the company. "So far we have managed to reallocate all of our fresh 'retirees.'"

Munck and his partner Karina Bernlow maintain contact with the retirees' new owners, adding stories about the dogs' new life to their the company website. Green Dog has a special arrangement with those who acquire the dogs.

"They must be willing to come back with the dog if it turns out not to be going well," Munck said. "And the dogs are welcome to be with us when the new owners are going on vacation, if they still live in Svalbard."

The latter is not a given. Some dogs who have worked at Green Dog are in completely different places today. Cat the dog, for example, is living the good life in Australia.
Munck is surprised how quickly the dogs can handle the transition from a dog kennel to a sofa.

"And then it turns out that they are housebroken and child-friendly. They like ski trips as well, but most are finished pulling sleighs," said Munck, encouraging people to contact the kennel if they want to be a "retirement home" for a four-legged pensioner.
Svalbardposten sought out some success stories of Green Dog's retirees this week. These are some of the stories their new owners shared:

Born in 2012
Retired in 2013
Now living in Australia

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Cat was born in the Arctic, and had a short career pulling the dogsled. Now he enjoys lazy days in Australia where hunting possums is one of his favorite passtime activities. FOTO: Private photo

Cat is now owned by Sue Werner and Henrik Løvendahl, who live in Blue Mountains outside Sydney in Australia. When the pair worked at Green Dog during the winter season in 2012-13 they found a friend who would join them at home.
"We both love dogs, so working in the kennel at Green Dog was the closest we could get to Heaven. Cat was just a puppy when we got to the kennel and we established contact very quickly. She hung around Sue's feet and showed that she was wary of being sent back to the kennel when that happened. Cat was enthusiastic and loved to run, but got hurt her hind legs after her first sledding trip. She got to rest up a bit so she could go again, but then it happened again. Martin then suggested that her career as a sled dog was over and that we had to find a new home for her. We had Cat in our cabin while she recovered from the injuries and became fond of the little bitch. Finally, we asked Martin if we could take her.
His first reaction was that we were traveling home to Australia. But he went along with it and after a few months the dog accompanied us on our long journey.
Now Cat is living with us outside Sydney. She has a large exercise yard where she digs holes and chases possums. She still likes to pull and drag us often around on our MTB. She is housebroken and enjoy lying in our bed (but not when we're there). She is very good with children, but definitely has ambitions to become the alpha female in the neighborhood. That has resulted in two veterinary bills for us…
We love Cat and are thankful that she got to be ours."

Sue Werner and Henrik Løvendahl

Born in 2003
Retired in 2014
Now living in Longyearbyen

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Steffi has specialized in getting food from restaurants in Longyearbyen. Dry dog food is too boring for him. FOTO: Private photo

"There was never an intention to get myself a dog, but then I met Steffi. The first time we met was when I was going to visit some friends at Green Dog. Outside the cabin near my friends stood a large hairy teddy bear who threw himself at me when I tried to walk past him. I sat on the stairs, he stuck his head under my arm and wanted to just stay there. We agreed that he should be mine. It was love at first sight.
When the season was over and Steffi was retired I picked him up. It turns out that Steffi is a perfect beginner's dog. He loves people and is always kind with other dogs. But a retired sled dog also has old habits he fails to get rid of. Steffi is not fond of dry dog food and he soon found out that residues from Longyearbyen's restaurants are much tastier food. Some of what he has managed to get from these establishments is tenderloin, venison and salmon. Steffi might seem spoiled, but he gives back to me ten time over in great hugs, happy sounds and big paws such as patting my on the back when I sit beside him."

Sally Hovelsø,

Born in 2009
Purchased from kennel
Now living in Longyearbyen

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Julie the husky was born to be in a dogsled, but was adopted by the Krapp/Jensen family and had been a family pet. Here she is with owner Maria Ansine Jensen and little Johanna in 2011. FOTO: Private photo

Julie is not retired. She was born in a dog kennel and occasionally visits Green Dog to hobnob with fellow species and do a bit of sled running. She is owned by Rupert Krapp and his family who live in Longyearbyen. Krapp writes regarding the dog's history:
"In 2009 we went to Anton and Priita, who used to run a kennel in Svalbard, to look at a litter of huskies they had received. We sat with the pups for a while and got a good connection with the two smallest. We decided to leave the litter and come back later. When we came back, all the pups except Julie had laid down to sleep in their kennels. It was just as if she were waiting for us. And then the choice was easy.
Julie was our family dog and grew up together with our three children. Initially we were a little skeptical and watchful, but we soon found out that she was very good with the kids. She tolerates absolutely everything, including little fingers in her mouth, ears and nose. When it becomes too much she reacts by slowly withdrawing. All our kids took their first steps while they clung to Julie.
But she is also a hard worker. She has had several long stays in kennels and been part of the team that has taken long tours. She has never had any trouble finding her place along with the other dogs. And she has an uncanny ability to adapt. She can walk straight from the dogs to her favorite place, which is baby pink carpet on the floor. In a few seconds she behaves as if she has done nothing but be an indoor dog all her life."

Rupert Krapp and Maria Jensen

Born in 2003
Retired in 2013
Now living in Longyearbyen

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Lyra has become a real couch dog after many years pulling the sledge. Now she enjoys lazy days and easy trips with Mia Mannstrøm. FOTO: Geir Barstein

"We have always loved dogs, but since it is unlikely that we will remain in Svalbard for 12-14 years we did not want to acquire a puppy. After our friends encouraged us, we went out to Green Dog to look at Lyra, a Greenland dog who had recently retired.
After our first meeting, things went very fast. A week after our first meeting Lyra moved in with us at Vei 236 in Longyearbyen. From day one she has given us lots of joy and we have never regretted that we took her home with us. Lyra transitioned very quickly and, after a short stay at Green Dog (while we were on holiday), she understood how wonderful life as 'city dog' is.
Now Lyra's life consists of getting some air on walks around the city, lots of coziness on the sofa (she 'owns' about 40 percent of our couch now) and full attention from us in the form of lots of goodies which she loves. Many would argue that Lyra has been spoiled, but we see it as a reward for all her years as a working dog in a dog team.
Adopting Lyra is the best thing we've done and it's a nice feeling to be able to give an older dog a dignified old age when it can no longer work in a team. "

Mia Mannstrøm and Fransisco Mattos, 

Born in 2012
Relocated in 2013
Now living in Longyearbyen

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Monster has overcome his shyness, and enjoys life as a city dog. FOTO: Private photo

"When my partner Einar asked Green Dog one day if they had a dog to give us the answer was a resounding yes! Eleven-month-old Monster was very shy and did not seem to thrive with the kennel life. So we took Monster home with us.
Initially it was quite difficult since Monster was afraid everything that moved. But slowly, but surely, he has realized that life as city dog is quite good and he now enjoys lazy days on the couch, with the occasional skiing or cycling trip.
We are very happy that we took the Monster home with us when we got the chance. We enjoy every second with him and it is absolutely wonderful for us to see how he has gone from being very shy to being a happy dog.
Two years after we got him is hard to imagine a life without Monster. We enjoy having him around us and the days would not have been the same without him."

Kristin Sakshaug, 

Born in 2004
Retired in 2014
Now living in Longyearbyen

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Frantz has found his favourite place in this suitcase in the home of Christine and Graham Ireland. FOTO: Private photo

"Frantz is still active. We've had him out with the kicksled and while skiing, and he pulls well. He never leaves my side and I take him with me to work so he is never alone.
We noticed when we got him he enjoyed being under the table or in small rooms, so we built a house for him of cardboard. He loved this house, but ruined it soon when he stretched for a nap. One day we started to unpack everything from a trip we had been on and he saw his chance to creep into one of the suitcases. This has now become his new home.
I take him to the dog kennels in town quite a lot, and he loves to play with ball or a stick. He becomes like a puppy again when he gets to unwind like that.
Thanks to Green Dog for giving us Frantz."

Christine and Graham Ireland, 

Translated by Mark Sabbatini

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