For the last two winters I’ve been working as a husky safari guide in Finnish Lapland. For me, this means working in the most beautiful outdoor environment.
When I was asked to join a team of husky safari workers for the last winter season, I didn’t hesitate. I had already gained experience for the job last year so I knew what to expect. Less than two weeks after getting in touch with the company, I arrived in Lapland and started working the day after my arrival.
During my time in Lapland, many of my customers wanted to know if it would be possible to get employed by a husky safari company without having a special education in animal care. Most of these people were highly educated people that weren’t satisfied with their office jobs and were considering changing profession. Based on these conversations I decided to write this little description on what to expect.
People working in this field come from all walks of life. When I applied for the job for the first time, I had some skills that would be useful for the company, like my sled dog hobby, customer service background and language skills. I have no professional animal care background and it was not needed either. This job is really one of those that can be learned by doing and that’s why many places are willing to take interns as well. I have actually met two interns (one being a former forestry engineer and the other an accountant) that had no expertise with huskies and were initially afraid of dogs. They both wanted to conquer their fears and both succeeded in that as well. I love working equally with people and animals and this job has given me great memories and good friends.
Husky farm tasks
There are many different tasks at a husky farm. All husky safari companies provide a little different services. The first park that I worked at had only Siberian huskies, while the second park had trained movie animals, like wolf dogs, foxes and arctic foxes as well. Some companies don’t offer park/kennel visits and therefore mostly kennel workers, handlers and mushers are needed. Normally workers take part in of multiple tasks, like cleaning the kennel area or feeding the animals.
Many mushers bring their dogs with them and unless you own a good team of your own, it might be tricky to get a job as a musher. The companies that offer park visits need social people to work with customers and the tasks at those farms are often divided to “yard tasks” (customer service) and “dog tasks” (mushing and taking care of the animals). I enjoy my work the most when I get to introduce my customers to Lappish traditions and tell them stories about the world of sled dogs and arctic animals by the fire.
Sled dog safari season
The sled dog season starts around the end of November and ends roughly in April. Many seasonal workers come to Lapland every winter. If you’re thinking about applying, many companies start recruiting staff around September and the search continues until the beginning of the season. Of course, the faster you act, the better your chances are.
Outside the main season, dogs still have to be taken care of and they need training. There are as many ways of taking care of that as there are husky safari entrepreneurs – every dog owner has their own idea of what is the best way to take care of their animals. Anyway, getting an all-year-round job is possible but difficult and the best way to go for it is by getting experience in the field. During the main tourist season peaks, there’s a lot of work to do. The workdays are long and one shouldn’t expect having days off on Christmas or New Year.
What about free time?
Depending on the programs that the husky safari company offers (whether they organize evening or overnight safaris), the evenings may be free. I’m studying at the moment and after spending my day outside, I feel just fine being at home, reading a book or listening to lectures. Almost every night that the sky is clear, it’s lit with Northern lights so quite often I just have to go out again.
In the beginning and at the end of the season (also in between the season peaks) my schedule gets lighter and I have time for exploring the outdoors on my own. I carry my camera with me and you can see some of the pictures on my instagram account.
Last year I had my Alaskan malamute with me and had to exercise it after my workday (malamutes are slower than huskies and my dog couldn’t run in a husky team on a daily basis). I really can’t recommend taking your own dog with you unless it works with you or you have someone that can help you take care of it. Walking outside for 11 hours a day without days off starts feeling pretty exhausting after a couple of weeks.
If you want to know more about working with huskies, you can write me in the comments below 🙂