“The adventure awaits the one, who seizes it”. This quote by the Danish polar explorer Knud Rasmussen, clearly describes the beginning of my Svalbard adventure. Until I headed North, I was about to finish the mandatory military duty and I had just been granted permission to the sergeant academy and had my future all planned, but things didn’t turn out like that, after all.
The beginning of my adventure started with a phone call from my childhood buddy, Anders, who later became my colleague at Green Dog Svalbard. Anders told me about the dogs, the winter, the sled and the long days. I was immediately hooked. Before long, I was on board the SAS 4496, heading for Longyearbyen. Just there, while sitting on the flight, I was wondering how this adventure just had been waiting for me to seize it.
The beginning was hectic and busy. There’s much to learn in a dog kennel, when you are not used to it and when you’ve never tried anything like that before. But the work is all interesting, variated and makes sense, even though the days can be long.
I arrived during summer, when the weather is nice and its not as busy as in wintertime. This is an ideal time to arrive, when everything is new and when you’ve never experienced a snowstorm or a polar night before.
The midnight sun at Svalbard lasts for 4 months and during this time, the sun doesn’t go below the horizon, which offers the opportunity of joining some fantastic trips.
The family who runs Green Dog Svalbard, Martin & Karina and their four children, Freja, Storm, Saga and Styrk, are lovely. They warmly receive people from all over the world, who wishes to work at the dog kennel. Their 4 children contributes to the great atmosphere at the kennel. You often find them playing around the yard, even in minus 20 degrees during winter and the guests has to look out so they don’t get hit by a snowball. I’ve really enjoyed their company, whether we’ve been watching movies in my cabin, hiking or been to the cinema in town.
After 6 months of handling, I started guiding tours in the arctic wilderness. At Green Dog Svalbard, each guide is responsible for his own 30 dogs. In a very short time, those 30 dogs becomes your best friends. Most of your day is spend with them. Each of them are fantastic. They have their own personality and should be treated and handled different ways. At first, they will be testing you to learn how far your limits goes. You have to put yourself in respect and let them know who is the boss, so they don’t trick you.
You shouldn’t get favorites or treat the dogs differently, but that is difficult to avoid. Mjød became my favorite, when he was my lead dog and therefore the one, I put most effort in. He preferred to run in lead on his own, so naturally he was allowed that. He was easy to navigate through the arctic tundra. Many of my best memories and trips at Svalbard was in his company.
Even though you work a lot, being a guide, you also have many days off. I spent most of my time off, going on trips. Your Svalbard back yard is pretty big, so whether you want to go on a cabin tour or go to the mountain and look for ptarmigan, there’s lots of possibilities for doing that.
The community at Green Dog Svalbard is something very special, since you both work and live at the kennel. You get a really close and good relationship with your colleagues. Everyone has their own objectives and prerequisites, something which just makes the workplace more interesting. When I worked for Green Dog Svalbard, I had colleagues from among others Slovakia, Canada and Australia, so the workplace contains many different nationalities, but all have one common goal and that is to have the best dogs and to do everything possible to make sure the dogs are well and happy.
It is said that time passes fast, when you enjoy what you do and my time at Green Dog Svalbard passed incredibly quickly. I have had many memories for life. I really enjoyed my stay and I’ve gained lots of good experiences for my upcoming adventures.