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Our Story (so far)


 'We were in the 80's. In the "sparkling Milan to drink" broke out the wonderful Nordic dogs-mania, tells Lorenzo Tilli, sport manager and owner of the enchanting Husky Village in Arnoga. 'I've been fond of dogs since my childhood, I fell immediately in love with this ‘mania’, so that I began to do research on the world of Nordic dogs and the sleddog, consulting texts, articles, watching movies and documentaries, and attending courses to become a musher. At that time I was a dental mechanic, but I was already feeling Alaska in my heart'

Can you remember your first ride on a sleigh?
'Of course! I found myself alone in the woods of firs and larches in the heart of our Alps, with a pack of 4 husky-dogs. From the start, I felt a sense of absolute freedom and was a love at first sight. I was personally experiencing all the emotions read on books'.

Who was your Master in this discipline?
'The American Joe Redington Sr. (Kingfisher, Oklahoma 1/2/1917; Wasilla, Alaska 12/6/1999) pioneer and founder of the "Iditarod", the most important sleddog race. I knew everything about him, but it was not enough to me: I picked up my tent and made up my mind to join him in Alaska.'

You were quitting a secure job, a career: what did parents, relatives and friends say?
'Of course they wondered if I was crazy, even if they knew I love travelling a lot, but by then all the games were played: nothing and nobody would have stopped me! After landing in Anchorage, Alaska, I rented a car and reached Knik, where Redington Sr. had his center, and within a few days I was part of a large family. Inside the kennel (breeding), I daily took care on pet-feeding and cleaning and attended to the training of the teams (packs), a very important commitment, because we're talking about 130 dogs. Despite the hard work, I was given an absolute satisfaction.'

Were you the last person working by his side?
'Yes, I was his last handler. I worked in that winter and the following summer, then he left us, victim of an incurable disease'.

Will you remind us a particularly deep emotion you experienced in those times?
'A meeting. During one of my sleigh-trips I met David, a Vietnam's veteran from Texas, who had left everything but to live in Alaska with his family, in complete solitude. The nearest city was 50 km away.'

You might do nothing but coming back to Italy and quitting the roaring sounds of the city, after testing such trials!
'Yes, but it was my wonderful living with dogs that sprang the spring to open my "Husky Village". I left Alaska and brought 6 husky-dogs (Kobuk, Ruby, Amber, Kuma, Rufus and Luna) to Italy. Kobuk, the parent and my leader, was a gift that Mr. Redington made me before dying.'

How did you bring your puppies to Italy?
'By plane. The flight was quite long, and during each stop-over I asked whether I might meet them. I wanted them to water, to stretch their paws, I had to pamper and encourage them. They were my... kids and without a lot of cares would be frightened.'

And what about their names?
'Well, they are almost names of Natives' and Eskimos' villages, usually located in Northern Alaska. Doing this helps us to try and keep a certain tradition .'

How did you find out the enchanting village of Arnoga?
'I did in December 2002. After coming back from Alaska, I spent a lot of time touring and visiting many sites; finally I found the right location, suitable for weather and for several excursions opportunities. I built the structure and the sleds in a perfect "Alaskan Style" (Lorenzo's sleigh is just the original one driven by Joe Redington Sr., indeed!), I started to train my dogs and...I cut the ribbon! At the beginning I was alone : lone with my 16 "big pups", of course! Then I started to select the best breeds and the "family" grew up.'

How many dogs have you got now?
'59. Half males, half females.'

What do they teach you?
'Instinct. Human beings lost it!'

How can you manage among all your Alaskan dogs, without making them jealous?
'Just start cuddling the first one (no matter which) and keep on till the last: you brush one dog, pamper another one, talk to another one, and so on.'

'I grew up amongst dogs and all I know about dogs I was taught by my grandfather, who had different ones, explains Silvia, Husky Village's Dog-fancying Instructor in Arnoga'. 'I've worked for several years in an ENPA (Italian National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) kennel in Crema, Northern Italy, and this rising from the ranks has been essential to me so far.' Being determined, sincere and in love with dogs and Nature, Silvia alternates her demanding role of mother of her little daughter "Alaska" with her working with great passion for the Husky Village.

Why did you choose to be a 'Doggy Instructor' by attending a GIAC (Interactive pets group) course?
'Because you're taught to work using the "Gentle Method", where bad, severe manners and forced, violent methods are banned; on the contrary: dogs are stimulated to think, having also fun! I attended several courses of specialization in sport-disciplines and behavioural problems, afterwards.'

How many years have you been working as an Instructor? 'Eleven, and I'm still going on. I worked for different branches, in the past, but then I decided to follow my way, my instinct. I've always loved the Alaskan dogs with a strong love.’

How did you get to Husky Village in Arnoga?
'By chance. I was watching TV and I was attracted by a Report on the Husky Village, established by Lorenzo Tilli. I rushed to visit the place and made up my mind to attend the "Musher course". Things turned out for the best, so that I've never come back home: Lorenzo became my husband!

Forty-eight Alaskan dogs and no preference?
'They're all the same for me, even if Ice has lived home with me for a short period, because of a particular training. There's a special feeling between us. When it was 4 months old, we were walking in the forest and we got lost: Ice was able to make me find the track to home!'

Which was the last litter you saw?
'In 2007, seven pups: Buck, Nome, Arctic, Page, Elim, Sitka, Glenn.’

What do you think about the relationship between children and dogs?
'It's basic. My daughter is very young and when she sees our dogs, she calls them, trying to go near them... you simply have to beware of children's rawness. Sometimes they may become unintentionally rough.'

Your daughter has a wonderful name, quite original! How did you choose it?
'I met Lorenzo in November 2005 and immediately we discovered to be also linked to the love for that land (Alaska), of which we both knew so much. Our daughter's name has been the right way so far.'

Have you ever been to Alaska, like Lorenzo?
'No, I haven't. Working with hounds takes me a lot of time: this travel is written in my book of dreams. Sooner or later I'll make it real!'