Gliding from the icy tundra to the city’s concrete jungle
BY HEATHER DUBIN | Sprawled on a bench in the Tompkins Square Park dog run, Bailey, a 6-year-old Siberian and Alaskan Husky/Greyhound mutt, was taking a brief rest. Her owner, Cassie Heck, a dog walker, was between clients in the East Village, and the two of them hit the park for a break.
Heck, who lives on the Upper East Side, is originally from Anchorage, Alaska, and so is Bailey.
“I was the first person to ever see her alive,” Heck said.
Formerly a massage therapist, Heck was also helping a family friend breed sled dogs, and decided to keep Bailey at six weeks. At that time, she had wanted a client’s German Shepherd/Rottweiler puppy.
“My mom freaked out just a bit, and said the dog would be too big for where I was living,” Heck said. She heeded mom’s advice, and ended up with Bailey instead.
Both of Bailey’s parents are mutts, and raced in The Iditarod, a 1,000-mile dog sled across Alaska. Bailey is also a former sled dog, and accustomed to trudging 20 to 50 miles daily.
In Anchorage, Heck used to be a musher, the person who drives the dogs through the snow, and has worked on a team with eight to 10 dogs. She moved to Manhattan two years ago with Bailey, and has stayed in the canine field. Heck walks roughly nine dogs a day, covering 34 miles. In addition, she’ll graduate from dog-trainer school this month.
Bailey’s adjustment to New York has been pretty seamless, with the exception of the summer heat.
“I don’t feel bad having her in the city,” Heck said. Also, her roommate’s dog is Bailey’s best friend.
Bailey has joined Heck at work since January, which provides the pooch with plenty of exercise and socialization.
“I have one rescue dog — she’s aggressive. We introduced them in the house, and Bailey always plays with Lucy, my one little crazy,” Heck said, with a laugh. “It makes me so happy to bring Bailey to work,” she added.
Besides joining in dog-walking duties, Bailey likes to run alongside Heck when she rollerblades. Bailey can also do a high five, and will extend a paw to Heck’s palm on command.
Bailey will eat anything. And when she determines it’s dinnertime, Heck will hear it.
“She’ll yell at me with really loud barking,” she said.
Bailey likes to share fruit, mainly blueberries and bananas, and loves cauliflower.
“Back home, we feed them frozen fish called hooligan, but it’s kind of like herring,” Heck said of the sled dogs’ diet. The cost of fish prevents her from doing that here.
Bailey also likes to sleep a lot, and excels at napping at the drop of a hat.
“Now that she goes to work with me,” Heck said, “she’ll just stop and crash.”