Times staff writer Jerry Hirsch continues his chronicle of Sasha, a husky he encountered on a street in downtown Los Angeles. Hirsch brought Sasha home, only to discover that she liked to wander -- and that healthcare for animals who like to roam is expensive. Look for periodic updates on Sasha in the weeks to come on L.A. Unleashed.
Sasha the Siberian Husky has a story, but she’s never going to tell. Lacking any knowledge of what befell Sasha before I rescued her from Spring Street near my office a few months ago, I decided to learn about her breed.
Nearly every inquiry pointed me to a May 2004, issue of the journal Science, in which researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle reported the first extensive genetic comparison of domestic dog breeds.
The Siberian Husky is one of the ancient breeds that are genetically closest to the gray wolf, thought to be the ancestor of canines. Of the 14, the Husky is a member of a group of seven with some of the oldest genetic patterns.
But while Sasha’s genetic pool is closer to a wolf than other dogs, that doesn’t mean she acts like a wolf. Huskies will moan and howl, but that’s about as far as it goes. The breed likes to hang out with people, not hunt them. The Chukchi tribes of Siberia, the source of the Husky name, used the animals to pull sleds and had the animals sleep with their children to help keep them warm. After feeling Sasha’s lush coat — she’s a living Cashmere sweater — I can see why.