Can huskies retrieve?

Having grown up with bitzers (most of whom had recognisable Spaniel or Labrador in them) who loved balls, I have been really surprised to find that most of J's huskies (is it cheeky to say "our"?) won't fetch. Czar and Frankie will both chase balls, and sometimes bring them back, but this seems to be more closely related to husky prey drive than retrieving.

That seems a little contradictory, so perhaps I should explain that I'm using the term "prey drive"  to mean not just the classic "Prey drive is the instinctive inclination of a carnivore  to pursue and capture prey" but in the husky sense of capturing prey specifically to eat. Huskies are an ancient breed who are believed to have be turned loose to hunt for themselves in summer up until recent decades.  In other breeds, prey drive has been modified through training and selective breeding to develop breeds who retrieve prey for hunters, who fetch toys and balls, who hunt alongside people on horse back and vehicles, and who herd sheep and other animals for farmers.

Here's what Czar looked like playing a little bit of fetch with me today. 

In both of these photos, Czar is hunting around in the grass, having completely lost track of the ball. In both cases, he had a direct line of sight to the ball as it travelled in a straight line from where I was standing on the deck to where it landed. 

I've never known a dog to do this so consistently. Czar is still young (6 this year) with no eye issues. I've seen elderly dogs with vision impairment struggle to follow a ball. I've seen dogs running too quickly, overshoot the ball and have to swing around to grab it. But I have never seen a dog loose track of the ball on almost 50% of all throws. 

I've drawn the ball's trajectory in purple and Czar's meandering path past the ball in dotted lines, to illustrate what I mean about "loosing" the ball. Now, Czar is not stupid. In this same game, I watched him spot the ball in the dog pen, on the other side of the old pool fence and under bushes, and each time work out the most efficient way to get to it and grab hold of the ball. But on these two and several other occasions, he took several minutes to locate the ball, when it was sitting in the middle of the lawn. Our game ended when he had lost the ball so completely that I had to find shoes and walk out, again to the middle of the lawn, to retrieve a ball that had been sitting there for several minutes. I threw it to Czar, who was standing in the gateway of the old pool fence, and he enthusiastically chased it and took it back to the deck to wait for me to return.

Huskies are definitely capable of breaking into new areas. I recently met a lady whose dog had just been the first husky to take out a tracking title. I would never say never. Maybe there are many huskies out there who are excellent at playing fetch. But when my vet recently suggested we consider doing some fly ball with Czar, I had a chuckle. 

Just as well you're so pretty, baby boy! 

Czar and ball 4.JPG