I’ve been a hardcore George R.R. Martin fan since the original Game of Thrones novel debuted in the late 90s. The magic, the scheming, and of course, the direwolves. They are an integral part of the Stark storyline, and if you don’t know what I’m talking about go and get the books stat because you’re missing out. But I digress.
In the wake of its success, HBO decided to take a gamble and turn the books into a TV series, and it’s paid off massively. Casting the direwolves was a bit of a stretch, so for Season One the producers used Northern Inuit dogs, a relative of the Siberian husky. Readers and show fans alike were enthralled by the story of the intense one on one bond between the Stark kids and their direwolves. A little too enthralled, it would seem.
According to the UK animal charity Blue Cross, there has been a 420% increase in husky-type dogs being given up or abandoned since 2008. Game of Thrones debuted in 2011. Is there another popular franchise featuring wolves that popped up around that time and could account for the earlier rise in numbers?
Twilight. Of course.
It happens every time a breed becomes popularized in film or TV, and it’s always frustrating. It’s especially so in a case like this where the breed in question is all of those things people are describing: intense, high energy, solitary. Huskies and their related breeds are not beginner dogs. They’re all that much harder for people to raise who are not used to the energy and time required, and all that much harder to place if they need to be rehomed. Double whammy.
Wolf hybrids are an even trickier lot, something lots of people in my neck of the woods like to pursue for reasons more to do with ego than the idea that one would actually be a better pet than a fully domesticated dog. “That’s my wolf hybrid,” the owner will say proudly. “Be careful. He’s wild.”
“He’s genuinely bred with a wolf?” I ask.
“We better be really careful, then,” I reply. “You do realize that the state does not recognize the validity of the rabies vaccine in hybrids? If he bites someone he is legally considered unvaccinated.”
“Oh….well, he might just be a husky, now that I think about it. My friend just said he was part wolf.”
True Game of Thrones fans would know that trying to tame a wild animal never ends well (dragons, anyone?) I’d tell you all that if you were considering a wolf or husky type breed based on this or any work of fiction to please do your research first, but the readers here are probably not the kind who would do that to begin with.
So instead I charge you with reminding your friends, your neighbors, or that guy down the street wearing a “Winter is Coming” shirt that the best way to enjoy a direwolf is in your imagination. I’m sure the stuffed version will be coming soon.
Do any of you watch Game of Thrones or own a Husky?