-31F/-35C in Yakutsk, Russia. Heat pipe warms Siberian husky

This is an amusing photo but I guess also instructive to someone like me. Firstly, it tells us how bloody cold it is in Yakutsk which is the capital city of Sakha, Russia, located about 450 km south of the Arctic Circle. It is in East Siberia. Fueled by the mining industry, Yakutsk has become one of Russia’s most rapidly growing regional cities, with a population of 355,443 in a 2021 census. Secondly, it tells me that even the Siberian husky needs warming up under these conditions and thirdly they have the smarts to find warmth when they need it.

Dog in Russia warms up on a pipe carrying hot water
Dog in Russia warms up on a pipe carrying hot water. She looks like a husky.

I like the way they’ve sat on the pipe which I presume carries hot water to accommodation. Although it is unclear why it runs down the side of the building. Why isn’t inside the building? Aesthetics?

They decided to sit bolt upright on it to warm their bottom. They could and should have spread themselves down the length of the pipe on their bell but perhaps they tried it and decided that it was too hot.

Huskies stay warm!

Huskies have a double coat which is very dense and which keeps them well insulated. The undercoat is short and downy and therefore warm while the overcoat is long and water resistant.

And, I am told that huskies prevent their feet from freezing and getting frostbite as they might do in the kind of temperatures that they have to work in in Siberia, because they have a key feet feature which is a specialised circuitry mechanism called a counter current heat exchanger! Wow, it sounds a bit like a modern human home heating system.

I can find an explanation for that technical description. It is this. In the feet, the arteries are intertwined with the veins. The arteries bring oxygenated, warm blood to the extremities and therefore they help to keep the cooler blood in the veins warmer. It’s a form of heat exchange from arteries to veins as I understand it. The phrase “counter current” applies to the fact that the blood in the arteries is going in one direction away from the heart while the blood in the veins is going in the opposite direction towards the heart.

Normally, animals keep warm by reducing blood flow to the extremities in order to keep heat in the vital organs. But because the blood in the veins is warmed up by the arteries and this blood returns to the body’s core it gives the core temperature a boost. This means, as I further understand it, that in huskies the extremities are not kept colder by reducing blood flow to them.

The information comes from a good source: a site dedicated to husky sledding.

Below are some more pages on working dogs.

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Post Category: Dogs > anatomy