ST. CHARLES — As their next sled run demo approached, a group of Siberian huskies began to yelp loudly and even jump straight up in the air.
“They’re just itching to get going,” said Larry Brodersen, second driver of the sled team.
Families on Saturday saw 10 Siberian huskies in action just outside the Hickory Knolls Discovery Center. The huskies are part of the Free Spirit Siberian Rescue Sled Demo Team, which travels to various places across Illinois with their owners. The volunteer team educates people about the Harvard, Ill.-based rescue group, collects donations and has fun, Brodersen said.
The team came to Kane County as part of the Hickory Knolls Discovery Days events held every February. Visitors watched the dogs race in teams outside on a snow-covered loop, then they got to pet and see them up close between the races. The face-to-face encounters are educational because they learn more about the huskie’s nature and agility, Brodersen said.
“Some people don’t want to have anything to do with them at first because they look like wolves, but they walk away with a different opinion,” he said.
Brooklyn Curda, 6, of Palatine could not get enough of the huskies — she petted them before and after one of the demo races. She came to the event with her great aunt Connie Ording of St. Charles.
Curda’s favorite dog from the team was Sasha, a female black and white Siberian Husky. She was one of the lead dogs for Brodersen’s team. Brodersen turned over one of Sasha’s paws to show attendees that the hair between Husky paws acts as a kind of snowshoe so the dogs can keep traction during races.
Next to Sasha was Gunnar, a male Siberian Husky and Shepherd mix. He did not hesitate to cuddle up next to six-year-old twins Matisse and Thomas Contreras of Batavia. The dog’s actions reminded the twins of Miko, their black domestic shorthair cat that also likes to snuggle.
This was the first time the twins and their mother, Bridget Contreras, have seen sled dogs up close.
“They like anything that has to do with animals,” Contreras said of her boys.