Thursday, October 18, 2007
Karelian Bear Dogs
Somebody asked me why I got a Karelian Bear Dog as the breed, compared to others, is rather obscure.When I decided that I wanted to have a dog again I put a lot of thought into the kind of dog I wanted to get. There were a few qualities that I knew that I was looking for. First I needed a dog that wasn't a wimp. I could have just gone to any number of places in town and picked up a local Alaskan husky....you know, the kind you see in the Iditarod.
Kotzebue is full of them. Unfortunately thousands of years of self preservation instincts have produced a dog that when faced with danger runs and hides under the cabin. I needed a dog with a little more guts than that. Second, needed a dog that was nimble and not to heavy. It would need to be able to jump in and out of a boat on it's own and jump on and off Snow amchines and ATVs. And third, I needed a dog that could handle cold weather, preferably a nordic breed. I like Alaskan Malemutes. They are beautiful dogs, but they are HUGE and it's hard to be nimble when you weigh as much as a small pony.
I decided that maybe a Siberian Huskey might do so I started looking around for one of those. Then I remembered Karelian Bear Dogs. I had heard about them in an article about the management of problem bears in areas of high bear populations. I started looking for more information. KBD's don't attack bears, they harrass them. They bark and lunge and run away and lunge some more. They also like to do that with just about any animal, moose caribou etc. I also found that these dogs come with a lot of warnings. Responsible breeders want you to know what you are getting into. Karelians are aloof with strangers, they are wanderers, they are challenging to train, etc. I decided that these dogs had the qualities I was looking for and that I was up for the challenge, now I just had to find a breeder.
My search led me to a breeder in Soldotna, Alaska, Bearunoff Kennels . I contacted them to see if they had any pups available. They didn't, but someone who had a dog from them did have puppies and they referred me to her. Kaija was sent to Kotzebue in a cargo jet on March 31st 2007. She was 10 weeks old. She really is a great dog, but a lot of what they say about Karelian Bear Dogs is true. They are challenging to train....that's not to say that they are untrainable. You just have to work consistently with them. KBD's are aloof with strangers. The older Kaija gets the more aloof and suspicious she becomes, and this is even after consistent socialization from an early age. I take her to work with me so she is around people all the time. Still, she likes who she knows and the rest can jump in a lake as far as she is concerned.
Kaija also needs a LOT of exercise. A walk around the block is not enough for her. She can run for MILES, needs to run for miles. I take her out on the four wheeler (atv) and run her next to it on her leash. When we get outside of town I set her loose to run around and hunt squirrels and bugs and whatever else she can find. They want to hunt....need to hunt. She's very alert. She sees, hears and smells everything. There isn't much that gets past her. She has never seen a bear yet, but I'm sure that when she does she will think it is great fun to chase and bark.
So that is how I ended up with a Karelian Bear Dog. They are great dogs, and I will probably never own any other breed of dog than a Karelian, but they are definately not for everyone.