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Swiss Man Finds Dream Job Mushing Sled Dogs in Alaska

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Sven Haltmann went from a miserable office job existence to living his dream life in Alaska, with not just one but two dream jobs. He now spends his winters mushing and his summers running a hostel, meeting guests from around the world.

Here’s his story:

I use to work for a health insurance company in Switzerland. Even though I loved everyone that I worked with, I hated the job and wanted to leave however I could.

Since I was only 20 and already miserable, I knew I had to do something different to change the path I was headed down. I applied as a tour guide in Greece, got the job and worked on the island of Crete for three years during the summer. Unsure of what to do during the winter, I applied to work for a dog musher who competed in the Iditarod trail sled dog race. I got that job too and trained champion sled dogs in the winter in Alaska.

I was blazing a new trail. I spent my 20’s having fun and living life. I wasn’t making plans for the future but rather living in the moment. I wanted to meet awesome people, have fun and follow my passion. I kept an open mind, didn’t mind working 18 hours a day for what I believed in, and somehow things fell into place.

But after running the 2011 Iditarod, I was totally broke and knew I had to find a new way to make money. I didn’t want to separate myself from this beautiful sport but was aware that continuing to race sled dogs competitively wasn’t financially viable by itself.

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How I Got Here

So I started offering dog sledding trips in the remote Arctic village of Bettles (population 22). The village is only accessible by airplane, snow machine or dog sled and is one of the best places to see the Northern Lights. The lodge lacked an experienced musher, which meant it was the perfect place to start a dog sledding business.

To my surprise I made money: I had few expenses, and after 4 months of giving rides to guests from all across the globe, I had banked $5,000.

Now I have two businesses. In the winter I operate a dog sledding and aurora viewing business north of Fairbanks, Alaska. In the summer I operate Sven’s Basecamp Hostel in Fairbanks. It’s a traveler’s place with people from all over the world staying here, so I feel like I’m on vacation without leaving my house.

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Best Parts of the Job

I have always loved dogs and now they’re part of my job. I’ve also found a new addiction that I would never have if I’d kept at my office job – mushing. I actually sometimes wake up thinking this life is all a dream, I love it so much.

I’m my own boss. I decide what happens every day instead of some employer. Because of that, every day I get to create instead of being told what to do.

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Every Job Has Its Downsides

Cleaning up after 95 dogs isn’t always fun, but it all depends how you look at it.

Growing up in a tiny Swiss village, my sister and I had chores that needed to be done. Even while doing these chores my mom managed to make it fun. By singing, telling jokes, and just generally being a clown, my mom managed to make it enjoyable. From that I learned how to make any task fun… even manual or menial labor.

Plus, I’m taking care of the best employees ever: my incredible sled dogs.

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What more could I ask for?

Now, instead of going to bed with a crappy attitude on Sunday night and fearing what Monday morning will bring, I fall asleep wishing it was already Monday morning.

Learn more about Sven on his website.

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