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Enontekio
All Year: Yes
Area (ha): 22
Persons: Seasonally dependent
Category: Other
Host ID: 5403
Country: Finland

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Last Updated: August 3, 2016

We run an internship program for people interested in working with huskies in a semi-professional capacity. In other words, we don't just take people as volunteers and expect them to poop. Rather, we have a systematic training system in place which is an extension of the system in place for paying clients who want to participate in the husky lifestyle for short periods of time.

Interns learn about and participate in the daily and weekly tasks that need to be completed on the farm. The first week is a bit of a baptism of fire guided by a daily mentor in which there is complete immersion into every aspect of life here.

The degree to which people can participate in the range of roles available on the farm depends on the length of their stay, their expertise coming in, and the level of interest in the various roles.

Duties change with the seasons from one-on-one dog training and construction / maintenance work in the summer, to dog-conditioning and safari preparation work in the Autumn, and participation in the running of safaris and care / entertainment of guests in the Winter and Spring.

Whilst that sounds pretty sexy, and there will definitely be plenty of what we call 'Indiana Jones moments' for those here in the safari season in particular, any work with animals involves less glamorous but equally vital aspects of keeping the kennel and farmhouse client-ready. ie cleaning, tidying and sorting kit! This is pretty much never-ending given that there might be up to 20 dogs recuperating in the farmhouse and multiple clients collecting and handing kit back into the farmhouse at any one point in time!

There is also a 5 year old child in the equation and when he is around, people rotate through spending time with him, so that everyone else can get on with whatever they are doing without interruption. Anyone interested in more of an au-pair type role is invited to apply mentioning this.

A surprising amount of time is also spent on computers and those interns that hope to graduate into paid guide roles should expect to spend an increasing amount of time away from the dogs and farm and more on systems management, marketing, medical work etc.

Our husky farm holds c.150 dogs, including both pups and (unlike most farms in Scandinavia), retired dogs. We believe that the dogs work as hard as they can for us in their adult lives and that they deserve a comfortable and caring retirement if we can't find soft sofas in new homes for them to lie on.

We were awarded Gold in the World Responsible Tourism Awards of 2015 because of the way in which we approach dog care and a lot of this links back to systems management and a lack of willingness to compromise. In other words, people tend to work harder and longer as interns than they may expect - and in return we honestly try to give more back than people also expect.

We currently rent a guides house c. 2km from our farm complete with sauna, kitchen and living area, so as to provide independent self-sufficiency in the evenings. Guides manage their own weekly shop for evening, morning and day-off food, and those who eat more than the norm supplement themselves.

There are three (arguably four) bedrooms with sleeping space for 2 to 4 people in each. Some people still seem to prefer to sleep on the sofa in the living room with the dogs.

Our farm is c. 4km from the main village in the region of Enontekio in Finnish Lapland. There is a small downhill ski centre locally and numerous XC ski tracks / hiking trails through one of the most beautiful national parks in Scandinavia nearby.

Work with the dogs is never done. However, how long the days are tends to depend on how quickly each group wants to complete basic tasks (and there is a lot of encouragement given to work efficiently so as to be able to get out sooner, to play!). Nevertheless, 8 - 8 is not uncommon in the off-season, so please choose an alternative husky farm if you are looking for a fun holiday option. Come to us only if you are serious about what you want to give to the experience and get from it.

We have a hugely comprehensive manual that we send to potential interns which is in a question format, based on both the questions that previous guides asked pre arrival, and on the questions that, with hindsight, they wish they had asked.

It answers questions about the area, the farm jobs through the year and how to travel to and from this remote location.

We also send you one of the longest application forms you will probably have yet completed in your life!

No apologies. We commit so much to people when here, that we need to know that they understand what they are getting into and are equally as committed to working harder than ever before whilst having the time of their lives. If you come and quit during the first week, it is a waste of your and our time. If you stay, however, you are probably right for here and it is pretty rare for anyone to leave after a decent stint, having regretted it.

Whilst the farm owners are ex professional athletes / explorers - one of whom was the first Finn to complete an unsupported expedition to the South Pole - please don't come wanting to expand this aspect of your outdoor skills. You will live and work in the arctic as an everyday part of life and you will learn to thrive here in the process. However, you aren't going to be doing many mini expeditions and Anna and Pasi don't actually talk much about their previous adventures unless they are specifically asked (many months in!).

Competition for places here is pretty tough and we are generally full months in advance, although we do get last-minute openings from time to time.

Please note that there may also be times of the year when you may not hear back from us for weeks at a time (when we are outside with the dogs, 24/7). However, if you are really keen, just persevere. It is definitely a unique experience.

Please note that our guide manual and application form are large attachments so please contact us from an email account that can accept attachments of 10mb in size.

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If you wish to apply as a gap year then it is best to apply as early as possible.

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We ask that people visit for at least a month - preferably at least three. In winter, the three month minimum rule is fairly non-negotiable since it is a rare intern who excels enough in the training process to be able to actually run safaris (still accompanied) much inside of 6 months. If this is your target, please bare this in mind!

The longer time requirement gives the dogs a chance to get to know and trust you and it also means that you will have enough energy by week 3 and 4, (when you are hopefully able to cope with the basic tasks, yourselves), to be able to explore the area a little more in the evenings. By weeks 9 and 10 you will feel reasonably competent (in that season) and then you will start to learn about how one season and its tasks flow into the next.

We look forward to meeting you if you are up for a challenge of a lifetime!

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