For the fourth consecutive year, Luke Laudolff, 8, of Batavia, plans to watch Siberian huskies at the Morton Arboretum pull sleds with human drivers. His favorite part? Petting the dogs. "He likes to snuggle them up," says his mom, JoAnne Laudolff.
It’s not the Iditarod—the famous 1,150-mile dog-sledding race in Alaska. But the Morton Arboretum event, and a similar one at the Lake Katherine Nature Center in Palos Heights, let Chicago-area families watch huskies "sprint mush" a lot closer to home. Kids can also learn about these majestic dogs—and maybe even adopt one.
"The dogs are there to draw interest and let people see them and fall in love with them," says Michael Dagley, vice president of Adopt a Husky, who will bring his five huskies to both events.
Families cannot adopt the dogs on site, but they can fill out Adopt a Husky application forms.
Huskies, which weigh 45 to 60 pounds, are known for being cheerful and energetic, Dagley says. "They’re a great dog if you’re into winter sports, if you’re an active family that likes to do things with your dog. They’re not the right dog for someone who wants to just get a dog and have it to be a couch potato."
These dogs, brought to North America by fur traders, are also known for their work ethic. In 1925, the breed became famous for relaying medicine during a diphtheria epidemic in Nome, Alaska.
At both events, Adopt a Husky will give a short educational presentation about the dogs and then take them on easy-to-see runs. In the past, dog-sled drivers offered rides to kids. Because of liability, there will be no rides this year.
The dog-sledding event at Lake Katherine Nature Center, 7402 W. Lake Katherine Dr., runs noon-4 p.m. Jan. 28 as part of Palos Heights’ Winterfest. Other activities include kids’ crafts, hayrides, folk music, ice sculpting and a teddy bear hospital. Admission is $5 adults, $3 ages 3-12 and free ages 2 and under. For more information, call (708) 361-1873 or visit www.palosheights.org.
The event at the Morton Arboretum, 4100 Illinois Route 53 in Lisle, runs 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Jan. 21-22. It’s free with arboretum admission ($7, $4 ages 3-12, free ages 2 and under). Visitors can also get a free ticket to hear husky expert Carol Preble present a historical program about the dogs at noon, 1:30 or 4 p.m. If you go, remember to leave your own dogs at home. For more information, call (630) 719-2400 or visit www.mortonarb.org. Karen Springen