Despite my lifelong obsession with animals and my genetic predilection for random trivia I have found a piece of dog minutia that had somehow escaped my radar. Although this is my fifth year in Alaska and my obsession with northern working breeds has only grown with our time here, the addition of Pico and a peculiar change he has undergone in the last month had Peter and I puzzled. Some quick google research brought us up to speed.
Northern breeds (and to some extent, Labradors as well) undergo a depigmentation of the nose in the winter, colloquially referred to as snow-nose. Nobody knows why. As the dog ages the pink nose becomes permanent, but during early adulthood a husky's nose will change between black and pink from summer to winter.
Figure I : Pico Puppy Nose, May 2009
Figure II: Pico Adolescent Nose, August trip to Deadhorse.
Figure III: Pico Adolescent Nose, early October. Just prior to first sticking snow.
Figures IV & V: Pico Adolescent Nose, November, three weeks after first sticking snow.
Figure VI: (Experiment Control) Nyssa, 6 1/2 years old. No northern bloodlines. No changes in nose pigment noted despite years of cruelly enforced winter-weathering.
The investigation continues ... in the mean time, we went over to the Goldstream Store on Friday night for some last minute eggs (farm-fresh! horrah!) When we pulled up in the parking lot, there was a dog-team tethered in the snow between the store & Ivory Jack's. As we got out of the car, the musher loaded his purchases, kicked the snow hook out and took off towards woods & trails behind the buildings. I love it here.