Dreams do come true: An extreme Arctic Expedition


You may remember a few months ago Tessa heading off with Joe Henderson to the Arctic to raise funds for Malamute Matters . Well the great news is she lived to tell the tale. Here’s her post expedition de-brief on all things Arctic and Malamutes.

You are back home to Belgium, safe and re-united with your Mals and cats…how has it been settling back to ‘normal’ life?

They were happy to see us and  we were happy to see them. Now we are plotting to try to find a holiday were we can take them along, at least Atka and Igaluk, Milo and Elvis will be guarding our home. And I’m still trying to catch up with things that didn’t happen in those 3 weeks we were away!

Really amazing and generous achievement doing this expedition…did it live up to all your hopes and dreams? How was it?

It was an amazing experience that I want to repeat again, although I’m still processing it all. I don’t see the expedition as a big achievement. I’m not the first one doing this neither will I be the last one. Now I know better how much I can push myself, yet, my goal to raise awareness and funds for both Malamute Matters and AMCB is far from being over.




What did you get out of it? Personally and for MM?

I feel I got the better deal on this one! I know how far I can go if I set my mind in to it, however, not everybody has the same views on this cause, so the fundraiser itself has been pretty slow. We have been rejected so many times since we started this journey.  The “Chip in” packages set up for the fundraiser brought in some funding, which is a big help, but I know it won’t last long with all the dogs that are currently in the rescues MM works with, not to mention urgent cases that might arise.

However, the fundraiser is far from over. We have made a t-shirt to sell (https://acrossthealaskantundra.wordpress.com/2015/04/27/special-ts/), and all proceeds will go to both causes, however, we need to have at least 50 items ordered to keep a fair price, and together with my husband, we are working on an e-book with photos of the trip. I know many people would like to do see the Arctic, but for one reason or another cannot, so the e-book will be a way for them to have that, and at the same time, will be helping dogs in rescue. I had a glitch with my camera, but Johan’s photos are good. You can see some of his work here

Also I just want to mention again, that none of the money we are fundraising is to cover my or my husband’s expenses for this trip. This is really 100% for MM and AMCB (Alaskan Malamute Club of Belgium) We will be closing the fundraiser in October, so I’m hoping people will still help!


Limited edition T shirt specially designed for the expedition for raising more funds

What was some of the outstanding moments for you?

There are just too many…meeting Joe and Team Malamute, seeing Northern Lights, being so close to the Brooks Range… the list goes on!

Seeing and being so close to Joe’s Malamutes in an extreme Arctic setting must have been truly amazing…does it make you feel even more sad that there are so many ending up in Rescue, for example at Dane Walk and PTS  (Put to sleep) currently?

To be honest, they didn’t change my views. Seeing so many dogs end up in rescue doesn’t make me sad. It makes me feel angry seeing people being so irresponsible and uncommitted towards pets that are “adopted” into their homes and at the first eventuality they give them up. Either you are committed or you are not.


If you were forced to narrow it down to 3 things, what would you suggest Rescues do to help this devastating situation?

It’s not only the rescues that have to do something; its society in general that has to change views, learn to be responsible. Posting, advertising, sharing… it won’t make a difference as long as there is no commitment and responsibility from pet owners. I have been approached by people telling me they want a malamute. I invite them to activities of the malamute club, I explain them what we do for activities with the dogs, how we care for them and what they need. I’m not an expert, but this way people get to see the dogs and decide whether they want to make the commitment or not.




Would you do this expedition again?

Of course, no question about it

If anyone wanted to follow in your footsteps what advice would you give?

Don’t forget to keep your sunscreen in your sleeping bag at night! The training both my husband and I set up was probably not the best, but we had no previous experience on anything (camping, fire making, trekking for such long distances…). Training is important, but I don’t think there is anything that can prepare you mentally for what you’ll experience out there.  As I said, I’m still processing it all, and slowly I’m writing down blog posts about the expedition. If anyone wants to read them, they’re available here