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Meet the team: Samurai

We’ve met Max. We’ve chatted with Arya. This month it’s time to talk to one of the original International Antarctica Centre Husky team members – the one, the only Samurai.

What brought you to the International Antarctic Centre?

I started as a youngblood with Arya, we were the original team at the Centre. I remember the first day we arrived, me just a little white-furred dog, wide-eyed and eager for pats. That was over six years ago. Yes, I’ve made the transition from boy wonder to seasoned veteran but, deep down, I’m still that same pup. Success hasn’t changed me.

Can you tell us a little about your career?

Where do I start? I was somewhat of a child star and athletic prodigy. So before I even grew into my paws I was pretty focused on the sports career and modelling work. It’s all about going the distance for me, and I have won both 24km and 36km races. And I was also invited to run with the Edmund Hilary tractors as they went from the Mt Cook Airport to the Hermitage at the foot of Aoraki. That was quite an honour.

Celebrity can really take you places too. I’ve since done more modelling, worked at the Christchurch Casino, your typical meet and greet stuff, and even played Santa for the kids. While I’m still young I feel lucky to have had such a great career so far.

Has your work changed much over the years?

Well, the big thing was the injury. Like many a professional athlete I was cut down in my prime last year with a busted ACL. Dane Coles – I understand, mate. Now I’ve got this flash titanium in there and, while I still love to run, the doc said my competitive sled-pulling days are over.

Work is now is primarily at the Antarctic Centre. While I still lead my ‘mini-pack’ my time is often spent mentoring the young pups as they come through – they say I’m ‘firm but fair’. So I guess I’m kind of like a player-coach now?

What do you like about the job?

I like keeping it old school too. Yes, posing for selfies are all well and good. But there’s nothing like a good lick every now and then to keep the crowds happy.

Are there any challenges at the centre?

Ha, funny you should ask. You see… I’m a great singer. I know, you wouldn’t suspect it, right? But when I throw my head back and channel that raw power from my ancestors, well… people say I should definitely be on some kind of singing reality show.

But then management came and said, “Sam, you just can’t howl any more.” Yes, it was disappointing. But then I found out why – I was scaring the penguins. I love those little guys, so it was an easy decision to stop.

What’s your favourite song?

It’s Macklemore’s ‘Can’t Hold Us’. This is literally my theme song – when it plays I know the gear’s coming out and we’re heading out for a run.

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