In the Äkäskero Sledge Dog Center dogs come first ...
Our Concept: Our whole system revolves around the needs of our dogs. We love our dogs and respect their individual characters and needs. We do not believe that dogs should spend their lives on a short chain with no social contact to each other (which is prohibited in many European countries but still often tolerated by local authorities).
Therefore we have developed special Dog Yards which allow our dogs to live in a ‘family’ environment. This is neither the cheapest nor the easiest system to handle the dogs but certainly the most animal friendly. To work with this system, we need people
Each enclosure is about 1000 square meters in size and houses up to 20 Huskies. Daily, and under supervision, the dogs are allowed to play together and thus maintain their social structure and strengthen their social bonds. During this time our Guides also have an opportunity to observe any changes in the mobility of the animals or any developing tensions and can respond by taking the necessary action.
Each Guide is responsible for one kennel, that is, two compounds with in total about 40 dogs. Beginning with responsibility for feeding the dogs and supervising their play and social behaviour, the guide also trains the animals in Autumn, looks after all aspects of the dogs' health, planning of offspring and then organising the sledge tours with the guests.
Since our beginnings, almost twenty years ago, a lot has changed. In those early days we had to travel 300 Km with a trailer to pick up the animal food of bovine stomachs. These days, dry food, and ready-mixes of meat and fish are imported direct from Sweden. The quality of the food supply has massively improved and handling is also much easier. This is extremely important for us in order to cover our daily food requirements of approx. 400Kg, increasing in winter up to 800Kg.
The main building in our camp serves as accommodation for our employees. Most of them want stay on camp near ‘their’ dogs and not live in a town nearby.
The Repair Station is fully equipped to, for example, build and repair all kinds of sledges. Over the last few years we have worked hard to develop a special sledge for tourism. The requirements – it must be solid and easy to drive – are significantly higher than those of a normal sport sledge. Accordingly our new sledges are made by hand out of Birch wood. We also produce and sew dog harnesses, booties, sledge bags etc. on camp.
To ensure optimal medical care for the dogs we have begun to set up a small veterinary facility. Here we are able to undertake treatment of wounds of any kind, castration, infrared-light treatment, blood analysis and microscopic examinations ourselves. Sometimes it is even necessary for our own veterinary specialists to perform emergency operations, as the nearest Vet – even if he can be contacted at all – is at least 60Km, but usually more than 100 Km away. Our veterinary nurse Susann has already saved the lives of many dogs – usually after they have eaten stones – by being able to not only recognise the problem but also by immediately taking the necessary action. This has sometimes meant it was necessary to travel to Oulu to the nearest well-equipped animal clinic. Not only the dogs but also our employees rely on her knowledge, diagnoses and treatment.
Additionally, we have a consultant Veterinary Surgeon, Dr. Uwe Romberger from Regensburg, who comes to us twice yearly for an extended period in order to intensively care for the dogs, advise and take any measures necessary to ensure their health.