A pair of Siberian Huskies whizzing by, guided by their handler shouting traditional orders ‘Gee!’ and ‘Haw!’, is the last sight you’d expect to see in the green expanses of the Bachelor’s Walk Park.
Derek Fulton, with Keely (5) and Kiache (6) would perhaps be more suited to the legendary Husky and Sledge races in Alaska, where they can cover 100 miles a day. But as long as the canine pair get their four-times-a-week exercise, they’re happy and content.
They cover about four miles a time, with Derek on board his special scooter. It’s the vital exercise that strong and energetic dogs like Keely and Kiache need to keep them on even keel.
Said Derek, “They’re very attractive dogs and became very fashionable due to the film ‘Snow Dogs’ (2002). The doggie farms cottoned on, and it seemed everyone wanted one.
“They’re very good natured dogs, but they need exercise. A short walk down the road or being cooped up at home isn’t for them. They get frustrated and start eating the furniture.
“As a result, the dog homes were soon full of them when they went out of fashion.”
Derek, though, is a long-time aficionado of Siberian Huskies, having kept them for 25 years, and had 16 over that period. “I used to run them along the Newry Canal towpath, which was ideal,” he explained.
“But it was tarmacked about eight years ago and we moved to the Bachelor’s Walk Park which is perfect for them.”
The dogs aren’t keen on running and pulling in temperatures over 13 degrees owing to their cold Siberian genes. So Derek guides them out in the cool of the mornings – as early as 6am in the summer. And they love the winters, especially the snow and frost.
They need little training – except to react to ‘Gee!’ which means ‘Turn Right’ and ‘Haw!’ for a left turn.
“It’s a case of man and dogs having a ball – we all love it,” said Derek.