Swedish Vallhund

For this post I wanted to learn about a breed I have never heard of before. So, I googled “uncommon dog breeds” and found a list of dogs I have never seen before but I instantly fell in love with!! One of those breeds was the Swedish Vallhund (I’m pretty sure my initial obsession was because they look veryyy similar to corgi’s). So let’s find out a little more about these cute little guys!

The name Swedish Vallhund means “herding” or “shepherd” dog and they are believed to descend from dogs of Vikings. However, records of dog breeding do not go back that far, so no one can really know for sure. But what is known is that this breed has come from farm dogs in Sweden who herded cattle and other livestock, kept vermin out, and barked to alarm their owners of visitors or danger. They are known in their homeland of Sweden as Vastgotaspets and were recognized by the Swedish Kennel Club in 1943.  They were later recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1996, and finally by the American Kennel Club in 2007.

Vallhunds are confident, energetic, curious, and very loyal to their family.  They also make good guard dogs as they are not afraid to alert their owners when strangers or danger are near. They also like to bark to let you know they are in a good mood or just to “talk” to you, so it is a good idea to train them to “speak” only on command to keep the barking to a minimum. The Swedish Vallhund is also an adaptable breed that can live in almost any home environment as long as they get plenty of exercise and get to be with their humans as much as possible. Vallhunds usually love children, although they may nip at their heels or pant legs because of their herding background. As long as they are taught this is not allowed, they should get along very well with children. They also get along well with other household pets, even cats, as long as they are introduced at an early age. Vallhunds really enjoy having another dog in the family to play with, especially if it is a fellow Vallhund. The Swedish Vallhund has a double-coat with medium length hair.  They don’t require any special coat trimming, only a thorough weekly brushing, brushing all the way to the skin to ensure you get all the dead hair.

Valluhunds are generally very healthy and have very few health concerns, although it is important to be aware of the best way to take care of your Vallhund and the things to keep an eye out for. Because of their short legs and long back, they can be prone to back injuries if not handled properly. It is best not to allow puppies to jump on and off of furniture as their skeletal development is not complete, and make sure to support both their front legs and rear end when picking them up.  The Swedish Vallhund can also be prone to Retinopathy, which is a hereditary eye disease that causes degeneration to the retinal photoreceptor cells and can lead to complete vision loss.

I can’t believe I’ve lived so long without knowing about this great breed!! The Swedish Vallhund is the perfect companion for someone looking for a small but athletic pup to accompany them on their daily run or other exercise routine!

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Dalmatian

The Dalmatian is one of the most easily recognizable dog breeds there are.  Although they’re pretty easy to ‘spot’ (haha) this is a breed I’ve never known much about, so let’s find out a little more about these famous Disney pups!

The Dalmatian’s true origins are unknown, but it is known that they traveled with gypsies, although unclear when and where they first appeared. The Dalmatian gets its name from its time spent in Dalmatia, which is in the area known today as Croatia. The breed has had several jobs over the course of its history, never specializing in one area. Dalmatians have been used as guard dogs, ratters, shepherds, retrievers, circus dogs, and coaching dogs.  They really gained a reputation as coaching dogs in England, running alongside the coach, clearing a path for the horses, and guarding the coach and horses while they rested.  Because of their time in this role, the breed still has a natural affinity for horses today.  However, when the Dalmatian made its way to the United States it took on the role of firehouse dog.  In this job they ran alongside horses to the fire, guarded the equipment during fires, and even rescued people from burning buildings, then returned to the fire station to fulfill their role as guard dog. Today Dalmatians are a popular family pet and companion although many fire stations in the United States still have Dalmatians as mascots.

Dalmatians are full of energy and can never get enough exercise.  They love attention and are eager to please their owner, which makes them an easy breed to train.  They also make great guard dogs due to their alertness and interest in their surroundings. This breed was made to run and they will…so it’s important to keep your Dalmatian on a leash or in a secure area while out for a run or other form of exercise and play. They also love human companionship and want to be around their family as much as possible, Dalmatians do not adjust well to time spent alone in the yard.  The Dalmatian’s high energy level makes it a great breed for playing with older children, but they may be a little too rambunctious for toddlers.  And as long as they are introduced at an early age, they easily get along with other dogs and even cats.  Of course we all recognized the Dalmatian’s short, spotted coat. Puppies are actually born solid white and they gain their dark spots as they age, unless they are born with patches of dark fur. These patches are larger than the normal spots seen on Dalmatians, and while patched pups won’t score well in the show ring they are still a perfect family pet and companion. This short, spotted coat is dirt-repellent, making the Dalmatian free of ‘doggy’ odor. However, they do shed year-round, and weekly brushing is highly recommended. As long as they are brushed regularly, Dalmatians shouldn’t need more than 3 or 4 baths a year to keep them shiny and clean.

The Dalmatian is a generally healthy breed, but like all other doggos they are prone to certain health conditions.  As a Dalmatian owner it’s important to keep an eye out for the more common ones so you can spot them before they get too serious.  Some of these common health concerns for this breed are hereditary deafness, Urolithiasis, skin allergies, hip dysplasia, and Irie Sphincter Dysplasia.

The easily recognizable Dalmatian is a high energy pup that loves to spend quality time with their humans.  Anyone looking for a four-legged, low maintenance running partner should definitely consider the Dalmatian!!

 

Australian Shepherd

This week’s post is about one of my all time favorite breeds, The Australian Shepherd!! Of course we love their multi-colored coats and pretty blue eyes but what else makes them so great??

Contrary to what you may assume, the Australian Shepherd originated right here in America.  They were originally used as a herding dog for ranchers and farmers in the western United States.  Several theories exist on which breeds were crossed to create today’s Australian Shepherd, but it is believed that those breeds include shepherd and collie-type dogs imported along with sheep from Australia in the 1840’s (which also explains their name).  The Australian Shepherd gained popularity soon after World War II as interest in Western-style horseback riding was renewed.  The breed gained popularity among the crowds at rodeos and horse shows as well as fans of western TV shows and movies.  Aussie’s were first recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1993 and they are still popular herding dogs, companions, and protectors in many American homes today.

Because they were bred to be pushy when herding livestock, Australian Shepherds need clear and firm leadership in their home.  Aussie’s are very loyal to their family members, although they may be standoffish to strangers and will need early socialization to help them grow to be a well rounded pup.  Due to their herding nature they may consider children part of their “flock” and use techniques such as chasing and nipping  at kids to herd them.  Once they learn not to herd kids like livestock (even though that might come in handy from time to time) Aussie’s make great dogs for families with children!  The same can be said about other pets, as long as they understand the other animals don’t need to be herded, Australian Shepherds get along well with many types of people and animals.  Like any breed, the Australian Shepherd has plenty of energy and needs plenty of exercise!!  A good 30 minutes to 1 hour every day is a good amount for any Aussie and even when you’re not out running, playing a game of frisbee, or working on obedience and agility training, it’s great for them to have a toy of their own to chew on and keep them occupied.  Enrolling your Aussie in obedience class is a great way to break them of their herding habits with children or other pets, it also gives them a great outlet for their energy and desire to work as well as a fun and easy way to please their owner!  Australian Shepherds have medium-length water-resistant coats to help keep them warm in rain and snow, an Aussie living in a colder climate will have a thicker undercoat than one in a warmer area.  Because their coat is longer and thicker than many dogs, weekly brushing is a very important part of an Aussie’s routine.  They do shed year round, especially in the spring when they are shedding their winter coat.  Before brushing it is helpful to spritz your pup with a dog conditioner diluted with water to help with detangling the fur.  As long as you stay on track with a weekly (or more often in the spring) brushing, your Aussie should only needed the occasional bath when they get a little dirtier than usual.

Overall the Australian Shepherd is a healthy breed, but they are prone to certain health conditions.  As an owner, it is always helpful to be aware of what conditions to keep an eye out for.  Some of the most common ailments seen in Aussies include hip dysplasia, epilepsy, deafness, cataracts, and allergies.

Not only is the Australian Shepherd a beauty, but they have the brains and personality to match!  I think an Aussie pup would make a great pet for anyone who wants a cute, fun-loving friend…..and is willing to handle a little shedding 🙂

Boxer

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So the Labrador Retriever is the most popular breed in America, but what’s Arkansas’ most popular pup? The Boxer!! Don’t let the name fool you, they would much rather be running in the backyard or napping on the couch than in a boxing ring.

Today’s Boxer was developed in the late 19th century when a female Bullenbeisser was bred with a male dog of unknown origin.  A fawn and white male puppy in this litter named Lechner’s Box is believed to be the beginning of the line that has become the modern Boxer. The breed started gaining attention in many parts of Europe in the late 1890’s and the first Boxers were imported to the United States around 1903. Boxers were enlisted in the military during World War I, carrying packs as well as serving as messenger dogs and attack or guard dogs.  They really gained popularity in the United States after World War II as soldiers brought their Boxer’s home with them.  They are still a popular companion, guard dog, and show dog today, ranking #7 out of the 155 breeds registered with the American Kennel Club.

Boxers are alert, watchful, and cautious around strangers but respond positively to friendly people.  Although their name might imply otherwise, they are only aggressive if they feel a need to protect their family or home.  They enjoy playing with children and are very patient with them, although they may be a little too energetic for toddlers and accidentally knock them down while playing.  This playful, energetic spirit could also lead them to knock down older children, adults, or maybe an expensive vase, lamp or television, which is why training your Boxer to control their excitement is very important.  Because of their playful nature it can be difficult to get Boxers to take training seriously; being firm and starting training at an early age are both extremely helpful in solving this problem.  Another way to deplete a Boxer’s energy is exercise!!  It is recommended to go on walks or have playtime outside twice a day for about 30 minutes.   As with most breeds, if they don’t receive enough exercise they will get bored which often leads to destructive behavior.  Although they are a relatively large dog, Boxers are not suited to spend the majority of their time outside.  Their short noses and coat make them unsuitable for hot or cold weather, plus they would rather be inside with their family instead of isolated outdoors.  Speaking of their coat, Boxers have a short, shiny coat and are pretty low maintenance when it comes to grooming.  They can shed quite a bit but brushing them regularly helps keep the extra hair under control.  Bathe as needed to keep your Boxer happy and healthy.

Like all breeds the Boxer is prone to certain health conditions and it is important to keep an eye out for them.  Some of the more common ailments in Boxers include Cancer, Boxer cardiomyopathy, allergies, and deafness (especially in White Boxers).

*White Boxers: The two most common coat colors for Boxers are fawn or brindle with white markings covering less than one-third of their body.  Boxers with white covering more than one-third of their body are not qualified to compete in dog shows because these white markings make them more susceptible to certain health conditions.  Because of this, some breeders euthanize white puppies while others place them in pet homes.  My family actually saved a white Boxer puppy from being euthanized once, her name was Spook and my dad drove all the way to Louisiana to get her. She fell asleep in my lap the first night we had her at home and she loved to play in the yard.  Sadly, she was killed in an accident exactly 2 weeks after we got her. I included this paragraph to say that white Boxers have the same sweet, energetic spirit of those with fawn or brindle coats. So if you are ever given the opportunity to save one, I promise you wouldn’t regret it!

Skye Terrier

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Since we talked about America’s most popular dog breed a couple weeks ago, it’s only fair that we talk about one of the least popular this week, I mean who doesn’t love an underdog?  The Skye Terrier is at the top of the American Kennel Club’s list of least popular breeds and I need to know how such an adorable pup ended up there.

The Skye Terrier originated on the Isle of Skye in Scotland over 4 centuries ago.  They were even described in what may be the oldest book written on dogs, Of English Dogges by Johannes Caius in 1570.  In this book Caius describes the Skye’s long hair  that “makes showe neither of face nor of body.” Their original purpose was to hunt badger, fox, and otter but of course today they are a pet and companion.  Skye Terriers were very popular with Queen Victoria and she even bred them and at one time they were one of the most popular terrier breeds.  The Skye Terrier was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1887 and today they rank 146 out of the 155 breeds registered by the AKC.

Skyes are brave and loyal to their family members, and while they are a great companion for older children, they may not have the best temperament for children younger than six.  They can be aggressive with dogs they don’t know, but should get along well with other dogs or cats that they are raised with.  It is also not recommended to have a Skye Terrier in a home with a small pet like hamsters or guinea pigs as the Skye may think of them as a treat instead of a friend.   Skye Terriers are cautious with strangers, which makes them pretty good watchdogs.  They want to be included and feel like a part of the family, so they don’t respond well to neglect.  They can adapt to almost any environment from a country home to a city apartment, but they definitely prefer to live indoors.  Skyes enjoy a daily walk or playtime in the yard or they will become bored and unhappy.  The Skye Terrier has a long straight coat that hangs down on both sides from a part that runs down its back from head to tail.  They also have long bangs that many owners choose to pull back with an elastic hair tie or a barrette.  These elegant coats require a brushing once a week with a long-toothed comb as well as a bath every two to three weeks to keep it clean.

Overall the Skye Terrier is a very healthy breed with few health conditions.  The only real health concern for them is the potential for orthopedic problems due to their long bodies and short legs.  If they are allowed to jump or climb on and off of furniture or stairs too frequently at a young age, it could lead to a condition known as premature closing.  This condition results when the growth plates don’t close properly and it can cause limping.

After doing a little research I still don’t understand why the Skye Terrier is so scarce! They’re such a cute little dog with a great personality, minimal grooming for such a beautiful coat and they have only one health concern!!  I definitely think Skyes deserve a little more attention, maybe this blog will even encourage someone to give the Skye Terrier a chance.

Ay Chihuahua!

Happy Friday! I hope you’re as excited about the weekend as they are^^^                            This week (by a reader’s request) will be about one of the smallest and most feisty breeds, the Chihuahua!!

The Chihuahua’s origin is not totally clear, there are two theories of their original ancestors.  The first theory is that they descended from the Techichi, a Central or South American dog.  The Techichi was first associated with the Toltec civilization.  They were then absorbed into the Aztec society when they conquered the Toltecs.  The Aztecs believed the Techichi had mystic powers, allowed them to live in temples, used them in rituals, and even cremated them with the remains of their deceased.  The Aztecs were conquered by the Spanish in the 1500s.  The second theory of the Chihuahua’s origin is that small hairless dogs were brought to Mexico from China by Spanish traders and were bred with small native dogs.  But no matter which of these theories is true, today’s short-haired Chihuahua was discovered in the Mexican state of Chihuahua in the 1850’s.  Americans visiting Mexico brought them home and the breed’s popularity really took off in the 1930’s and 1940’s.  The Chihuahua has been one of the most popular breeds registered by the American Kennel Club since the 1960’s.

The Chihuahua is bold and suspicious of strangers, so they make a good (but small) watchdog.  Even though they don’t always love strangers, they do thrive on companionship and often bond strongly to a single person. Chihuahua’s love children but because of their small size they can be easily injured by small children that don’t handle them properly.  So families with older, calmer children are more recommended to care for a Chihuahua.  They are also full of energy and need exercise just like any other breed. Although they love to spend time running around the back yard, it is not safe for a Chihuahua to live outside. They are easy prey for animals such as hawks, coyotes, or large dogs.  They respond well to positive reinforcement and are fairly easy to train. Many Chihuahua’s are successful in dog sports such as agility and obedience. Chihuahua’s can have a long or short coat and both require minimum grooming of a weekly brushing and baths every month or two.

Sadly, even the tiny Chihuahua is prone to certain health conditions and it is always helpful to be aware of the biggest threats. Some health conditions that are seen most commonly in Chihuahua’s are Patellar Luxation, Hypoglycemia, Open Fontanel, and shivering.

If you’re in the market for a tiny, energetic companion I think you and a Chihuahua would get along very well! There’s nothing like a best friend that you can carry in your purse!!

 

 

 

 

 

Labrador Retriever

For this week’s post I decided to learn a little more about America’s most popular dog breed for the last 23 years, the Labrador Retriever!!  I have never had a Lab of my own but I have known several people with them and I can definitely see why they are so loveable.

The Labrador Retriever originated on the island of Newfoundland.  The Lab was originally named St. John’s Dog after Newfoundland’s capital city.  Beginning in the 1700’s they were helpers and companions to fishermen; assisting by catching fish during the day and spending time with the family at night.  Labs were imported to England around 1830 to assist with hunting.  It was in England that they were first referred to as Labradors.  Because of government restrictions and tax laws, the breed disappeared in Newfoundland but thankfully survived in England.  The first Labrador Retrievers came to the United States in the 1920’s and their popularity really took off after World War II.  The Lab became the most popular breed registered with the American Kennel Club in 1991 and has been at the top ever since.

And just what is it that has kept that Lab as the #1 dog breed for so many years?  Well, I’m sure their outgoing and friendly nature with people and other animals is a good contributing factor.  In addition to their sweet nature, Labs are also intelligent and eager to please their humans, which makes them easy to train (always a plus).  They are an active breed and require daily exercise to work off their energy and prevent boredom.  Speaking of boredom, Labradors love to be around their family and they do not enjoy being confined to a lonely backyard.  It’s also important to keep a sturdy chew toy on hand, because Labs are chewers and if they aren’t provided a toy, they may find something to chew on their own (like your furniture or favorite pair of tennis shoes).  The Labrador Retriever has a two-layered coat that comes in handy to protect them from the cold and wet.  Their short coat makes grooming pretty easy, but they do shed a lot so daily brushing is highly recommended.  A bath every 2 months or so is also needed to keep your Lab looking, feeling, and smelling good.

Sadly, like any breed, the Lab is prone to certain health conditions.  Some of these include Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia, and Tricuspid Valve Dyslpasia.

It is easy to see why the Labrador Retriever has been loved by so many for such a long time.  They are a loving, intelligent, low maintenance breed.  All they need is a little exercise and a whole lot of love and they will become your most loyal friend.  I wouldn’t mind having a sweet little yellow Lab of my own someday!

Shiba Inu

I’m sure we have all seen the doge meme at least once or twice.  I’ve never known where this meme came from or how it got started but I’ve always thought it was pretty cute. So I decided to learn a little more about the fluffy face behind the famous doge.  Spoiler alert: Doge is actually a Dog, and to be more specific a Shiba Inu!

The Shiba Inu is the smallest breed to originate in Japan along with the Akita, Shikoku, Kai Dog, Hokkaido and Kishu.  They were originally used (as many dogs were) as hunting dogs to get rid of small game and birds.  There are a few different stories about how the Shiba Inu got its name, some from the bushes it hunted in, the color of its fur, and its small size. Sadly, World War II caused a lot of trouble for the poor Shiba, many were killed in bombing raids while a lot of the others died from distemper (a very contagious virus) in the years after the war.  But, luckily, the remaining Shiba’s were interbred to save the breed and the first Shiba Inu was brought to the United States in 1954 by a service family.

Shiba Inus are good-natured, alert, and affectionate with their family members.  However, Shiba’s are pretty suspicious of strangers and tend to be freethinkers (aka stubborn).  They can also be a little stingy with their food, toys, and territory so they don’t always get along well with other dogs.  Shiba’s are very intelligent but because of their ‘freethinking’ they are not always the easiest dogs to train.  Shiba’s are very active and need a large fenced in yard with plenty of room to play.  They do not like to be constrained so leash training from an early age is very important.  Thanks to their great intelligence, house training is pretty easy with this breed.  Once they know where they are expected to go, that’s where they will go whenever possible.  The Shiba Inu has a thick double-coat with a stiff, straight outer coat and a soft and thick undercoat.  They shed moderately throughout the year and very heavily twice a year.  Because of this weekly brushings (or more frequent during times of heavy shedding) are important to get rid of dead hair.  They are naturally clean and odor-free but do require a bath every once in while (usually every 3 or 4 months– too many baths can cause the Shiba’s skin and coat to dry out).

Like all breeds, the Shiba Inu is prone to certain health conditions and it’s important to be aware of the more common ailments to be on the lookout for.  Some of the most common health conditions to look for in the Shiba Inu include allergies, cancer, chylothorax, and epilepsy.

If you’re looking for a fluffy, active, and affectionate pup I think the Shiba Inu would be the perfect friend for you!  But you may have to live in the shadow of your pet’s internet fame.  Such popular. Wow. Much famous.

 

Rat Terrier

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If you have read my ‘about me’ page you know I have a dog of my own named Dingo!  The summer before my senior year of high school Dingo showed up on our back porch and cried all night for us to let him inside.  I brought him in the next morning bathed him and spent most of the day getting rid of his ticks and fleas.  After establishing that none of our neighbors were missing a dog we took him to the vet where we found out he had a broken hip and heart worms.  We of course kept him and now I can’t imagine life without him.  Because of his unfortunate past we aren’t really sure exactly what breed he is but we like to call him a Rat Russell (cross between a Rat Terrier and Jack Russell).  So in honor of my best friend Dingo, this week is all about the Rat Terrier!

The Rat Terrier breed originated in America through crossing of several other Terriers including the Fox Terrier, Bull Terrier Manchester Terrier,  and Old English White Terrier.  They were very commonly used to control rodent populations on farms between the 1910s and 1940s.  They became less popular when farmers began using poisons to control rodents, but regained popularity in the 1970s and Rat Terriers are still a common household breed today.

Rat Terriers are full of energy and very perceptive to the moods of their humans, they love to please their owners and will follow you around at home.  Although they are very loving to their family members, Rat Terriers do not like strangers– people or animals– and they are fearless (Dingo has started a few fights with dogs much bigger than him).  Also, because of their original breeding for catching small animals like mice and rats, they tend to see small pets such as hamsters or chinchillas as prey.  They do get along well with children though, and love to cuddle.  The Rat Terrier has a short and smooth coat with dense, shiny fur. Because of this short fur they are very low maintenance and only need weekly brushings and the occasional bath.  But they are heavy shedders especially in the fall and spring, it’s nearly impossible to get away from home without a Dingo hair attached to my clothes!

Some of the most common health conditions for Rat Terriers include allergies, incorrect bites, and patellar luxation.  Dingo has certainly had his fair share of ailments but luckily we haven’t encountered any of these.

I would definitely recommend a Rat Terrier to anyone looking for an energetic, entertaining, and fun little pup! If they are anywhere near as smart and sweet as my Dingo, getting to love them will be worth every shed hair on your furniture.

 

Siberian Husky

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About 2 weeks ago, my roommate brought home a 6-week-old Husky puppy, Titan!  Life with Titan so far has been an adventurous learning experience so he is my inspiration for this week’s post.  Could you get along with a little Husky like Titan? Let’s find out!

Siberian Huskies originated in–you guessed it– ancient Siberia.  They were originally used by the Chukchi people to assist with hunting and sled hauling in northeastern Asia.  A team of Huskies were brought to Nome, Alaska in 1909 to compete in a 408 mile All Alaska Sweepstakes race.  This team of Siberians shocked everyone by coming in 3rd place in this race and the breed has continued to be successful in similar races since.  In addition to their racing career, today Huskies are still used as sled dogs and have also become popular pets for many Americans.

Many people are certainly drawn to Huskies by their striking wolf-like features and fluffy coat, but there is much more to them than just their looks.  Siberian Huskies are very intelligent (this sometimes gets them in trouble) and independent. They are also extremely affectionate with everyone so they adjust well to children, other dogs, and are even welcoming to strangers, which means they don’t make the best watchdogs.  Like I mentioned earlier, Huskies are very smart buuut they are also mischievous and don’t always  follow orders even though they understand them perfectly.  The Huskies most famous trick is their ability to escape so it’s important to keep an eye on them or they will wander away from home.  They also require lots of exercise so they don’t usually make very good apartment dogs.  The most important factors in caring for a husky are ensuring they get 30-60 minutes of exercise daily (to prevent boredom) and remaining patient and determined through their obedience training.  Because of their origins in such cold climates, Huskies do have a thick double coat that is prone to shedding making it important to brush them regularly.  However, they tend to clean themselves (like a cat) and don’t require many baths.

Some of the Huskies most common health conditions include complications with their eyes.  A few things to keep an eye out for are cataracts (especially in old age), Corneal Dystrophy, and Progressive Retinal Atrophy.  It is also not a bad idea to check their ears regularly for signs of infection which include redness and bad odor.

Siberian Huskies are the perfect pup to compliment an active lifestyle full of adventures such as jogging or hiking (just don’t forget to bring a leash on every adventure).  They can be stubborn but with the right patient and consistent owner, even the most frustrating puppy can learn the importance of obedience.  Taking on a Siberian Husky (or any dog) is certainly a big responsibility but if Ben Stiller, Miley Cyrus, and Russell Westbrook can handle their Huskies I’m sure you’re up to the challenge!

And wish us luck with Titan, he’s already showing his stubborn side!!