Pc Rhona has a ruff idea how to handle huskies on epic trek

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As a police dog handler she has tackled fleeing criminals and massive football crowds alongside her German shepherd.

AS a police dog handler she has tackled fleeing criminals and massive football crowds alongside her German shepherd.

But Pc Rhona Meikle will swap her trusted partner for a team of huskies to take on a new challenge in the frozen north.

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FOLLOW OUR LEAD: Huskies Mira and Tsar with Rhona Meikle ahead of her Swedish sled challenge. Picture: CALLUM BENNETTS

The 32-year-old will travel to Sweden to sledge through snowy woodlands and mountain passes to raise cash for an animal charity. Pc Meikle will travel across one of the coldest parts of the world, where she will face temperatures as low as -40C.

And she will be tasked with learning how to handle the huskies pulling her sled on the epic 150km journey.

Each day will bring only eight hours of light to cover miles of wilderness, while the freezing nights will be spent in teepees.

Pc Meikle, who is based at Dalkeith Police Station, aims to raise £2500 for the PDSA, which cares for the sick and injured animals of people in need.

She said: "I'm sure it will be the trip of a lifetime. I've not really dealt with huskies before so it should be a real learning experience. Obviously, I've handled police dogs, as well as gun dogs, but this will be unique."

She will have to master controlling the huskies as they drag the sled through ice and snow, as well as learning their feeding routines.

The trek, which will last for four days following three days of training, will start and finish in Ostersund in central Sweden after completing a wide circle through the wild terrain.

Pc Meikle will be among a team of eight people taking part in the challenge which is due to set out next February.

"I'm training just now to get in condition for the trip," she said.

"I completed the Bupa Great Edinburgh Run last month and I'm planning to enter the Great Scottish Walk this summer. We've been given a training schedule which says the best exercise for this is walking.

"I'll need to buy all the equipment, which includes thermals, waterproofs and maps, as well as swotting up on huskies themselves before I leave."

Pc Meikle joined the police nine years ago and applied for her post in the force's dog section in 2003, inspired by her love of animals.

Her police dog Yodi, a three-year-old German shepherd, is kept in kennels at her home along with her pet Labrador.

The last four weeks have also seen her take part in a course teaching how to carry out drug searches along with a cocker spaniel named Sweep.

She added: "My job with Yodi includes looking for missing persons, controlling crowds at football matches and other big events, pursuing criminals who have fled the scene and searching for missing property.

"Now with Sweep I'll be doing searches of properties which have been raided to look for drugs.

"I'm sure my training with dogs will come in handy during the trip, but handling every type of dog is different.

"I saw an advert for the dog sledding in a PDSA magazine and decided I wanted the experience. But I also love animals and want to raise money for the charity."

PDSA, which is the largest private employer of vet surgeons in Europe, runs fundraising challenges throughout the year.

A PDSA spokeswoman said: "The PDSA is delighted that Rhona has signed up. As well as enjoying an exhilarating experience dog sledding, she will be raising funds to help treat sick and injured pets.

"The challenge involves sledding through snowy woodlands, mountain passes and across ice lakes towards the Northern Lights."

Source Scotsman.com

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