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These participants might prefer Winter Olympics

Huskies were bred to pull sleds, but Florida weather forces owners to find other events for the Husky Olympics.

Published February 16, 2005

SEMINOLE - Zabol's eyes lock on the hot dog chunk that is waved in front of his nose. When it's dropped into the bowl of water at his feet, Zabol does not hesitate. He plunges in and snaps it up.

Zabol stands a good chance of doing well in the cookie bobber contest at Sunday's Siberian Husky Olympics. This is the ninth year for the event, which will be held rain or shine from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Pavilion 10 in Lake Seminole Park, 10015 Park Blvd. in Seminole.

The events, with a $1 entry fee, are open only to Siberian huskies but the public is welcome to watch. Other dog species are welcome to watch but might be looked down on by the huskies, who seem to hold a special regard for members of their own breed, Ginger Kaszer said.

Kaszer is a member of Siberian Husky Rescue of Florida, which is sponsoring and will benefit from the Olympics. Kaszer is also Zabol's human.

Zabol "is a Russian phrase for pain in the butt ... or your worst nightmare," Kaszer said cheerfully.

Although Kaszer was kidding, the joke underscores the reason many huskies end up needing rescue.

They can be intolerant of smaller animals, and they are known to just take off, she said. They like to dig and, if left alone, can dig their way out of a yard quickly.

They shed a lot. And they get bored easily. If alone for long periods, they can be destructive.

They also, as befits a creature bred to work in a pack pulling sleds, need a lot of exercise. They tend to test each other. That can be off-putting for unsuspecting humans, but "it's very rarely bloodletting," Kaszer said.

That said, the breed is also known to be loving, good with children and happy. Owners spend a lot of time laughing over their antics.

"They're really wonderful, wonderful pets," said Carolyn Dominique, who has two, Skeeter and Meisha. "They have great personalities."

But some people still find the dogs do not fit in with their lifestyles and give them up. The rescue takes as many as possible and finds new homes. All that costs money. The Olympics were begun nine years ago to raise some money for the rescue but more importantly to give husky owners a chance to get together and have fun with their dogs.

The events tend toward the lighthearted - best husky trick, prettiest husky eyes, curliest husky tail, best husky howler.

Then, there's the hairiest husky. Contestants brush all the hair they can from their dogs' coats to the tune o f Hair by the Cowsills: "Let it fly in the breeze/And get caught in the trees/Give a home to the fleas in my hair."

As the owners brush, the fur literally flies until it appears snow is falling. An assistant rushes to grab it and stuff it in a bag so it can be measured later.

[Last modified February 16, 2005, 04:30:09]

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