No snow, no problem. Huskies chase their purpose on South Africa’s sands


Huskies are born to run. They may be soft and cuddly, but they are also powerful and filled with energy. Left to their own devices, a husky can easily tear up a house. They can’t help it. The canines were bred for centuries as sled dogs in snowy and freezing conditions, and belong in a pack. Without this, they suffer. Sam Gunter has a solution. He gets the dogs in line, and takes them sledding along the beaches of the Western Cape. While the warm sands of South Africa are a world away from their original habitat, these huskies adapt and thrive.

“The way to combat unhappy huskies is to sled them,” Gunter says. He adopted his first husky in 2007, and fell in love with the breed. Recognising that they needed an outlet for their energy, he started running them on the beach. Other husky owners took notice, and wanted the same exercise for their pets. Realising there was a demand, Gunter founded the initiative Mush It Up. He trains the dogs to sled, observing each one’s strengths to choose where to place them on the team. Twice a week he leads the pack of huskies racing along the coastline. They relish the ability to run in the open. Over time, the huskies become calmer, fitter, and behave better.

But it’s not just the huskies that require training. Gunter trains their owners too. He teaches them about their dogs and what they need to be healthy. “Their souls are unique,” Gunter says. “Coming to the beach gives them purpose, gives them the sense of belonging to a pack.” By understanding the incredible traits of huskies, we can help them achieve what they were born to do. “Nothing can stop you from your destiny,” Gunter says. “Even if you are a dog.”