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Siberian Huskies off and running at St. Charles nature center

ST. CHARLES – Six-year-old Tommy Gray of Batavia wasn't scared as he bent down to pet the soft, furry coat of a Siberian Husky.

"They have beautiful eyes," Tommy said.

The Harvard-based Free Spirit Siberian Rescue group on Sunday gave dog sled demonstrations at the St. Charles Park District's Hickory Knolls Discovery Center as part of the center's Discovery Days. Freezing rain cancelled an appearance by Fox 32 meteorologist Tammie Souza.

Tara and Doug Gray, of Batavia, braved the slippery mess to bring their two sons, Tommy and Andy, 2, to the center.

"We wanted to get out of the house," Tara Gray said. "We've seen Huskies before at the Morton Arboretum. They are very friendly. It's cool to see them up close and personal."

The Siberian Husky was bred in Northeast Asia as a sled dog. Tamara Mueller, of Genoa City, Wis., owns two dogs that are part Husky, and wanted to see what a dog sled demonstration was like.

"I want to get them into the sled program," Mueller said.

She hopes that people learn the facts about Siberian Huskies. For example, Mueller said it is a misconception that they are aggressive.

"They can be aggressive toward other dogs, but I've never seen them aggressive toward people," she said.

During Hickory Knolls Discovery Days, families were able to find the answers to a number of nature-related questions. Hickory Knolls volunteer Laura Wodrich was explaining the meaning of "windchill factor" and how to determine it.

She blamed the inclement weather for the low turnout for the event.

"Last year we were a little better," Wodrich said.

The next Hickory Knolls Discovery Days will take place from noon to 4 p.m. Feb. 10 at the center, located at 3795 Campton Hills Road. The day will feature a birds of prey presentation by the Northern Illinois Raptors.

More information is available at

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