Different dog breeds have different superpowers. Consider the hyper-powered nose of a bloodhound, able to track any villain; or the Chihuahua, with its uncanny ability to irritate its enemies to death. Huskies have a superpower too: endless stamina and a mad need to use it. Let the others sniff and yelp – baby, they were born to run.
Sadly, for the snow dogs of Scotland, the days of running are drawing to a close. Not because their desire is diminished, but because the climate has changed so completely as to make their continued exertion inhumane and dangerous. Huskies have high core temperatures when running and anything above 11C isn't safe; Scotland's winters have become so warm that owners Alan and Fiona Stewart have decided to pack up the Cairngorm Sled Dog Centre.
"We have a major, major problem with climate change – it's killed me," says Alan, who speaks in quick, clipped sentences. "Seriously killed me. End of next year, this will all be gone. Temperature."
When the Stewarts set up in 2001, on the outskirts of Scotland's winter sports capital Aviemore, they could conceivably train for 11 months of the year. As summer approached, they used an elaborate shower system to soak the dogs before charging out along trails they had carved through the surrounding forests. Now, every trick in the book can't grant the huskies any more than about three months' training time.
When I visit in mid-January, the temperature stays resolutely above freezing, even though the sky is clear. The mountains remain dramatic and beautiful, but the apologetic blobs of snow on their slopes were once to be expected in April or May, not in the depths of winter.
The Sled Dog Centre will stay open until the end of 2018, by which time everything will be sold off and packed up. The fittest and best dogs will go to America and Alan's son, John, who competes at the highest level in elite competitions across the continent.
Until that sad day, there's still plenty for visitors to do. I'm there for the two-day certified handlers' course, a taster of the near endless commitment you need to be a sled dog owner.
"They're tremendous clipes when something happens," says Fiona, using the Scottish word for a snitch. At least that's what I think she says – the dogs lose their collective mind when one slips its chain and tears around the yard, too excited by his liberty to put it to any great effect.
When the noise subsides, Alan repeats his mantra: "This isn't a game, it isn't a hobby." It's hard to judge how sincere he is when he says: "I really want to put people off this way of life," but I find myself believing him. The expenses are high, the dogs noisy and messy, the necessary dedication Herculean. Bloodlines matter so much that no husky is spayed or neutered. Unsurprisingly, then, they are mostly bat-shit crazy – and never more so when the prospect of a run builds.
As I clumsily help to transfer the runners from their kennels to posts by the sled, the centre descends into utter bedlam. Unskilled in the husky language, I can only guess, but it sounds like those taking part are boasting loudly, while the ones missing out are audibly jealous.
For the happy few selected for the team, the anticipation is uncontrollable. It's true that Diesel may have a different personality to Grizzly, who is nothing like Harley or Houdini, but when it comes to the prospect of running, every dog is a howling loon.
Amid the chaos, I expected to find fitting their harnesses more difficult, but many of the dogs have learnt to almost step into them, perhaps to cut down on the amount of time they must endure being stationary. Standing over them, I can feel their hearts beating through my knees.
A team of 12 will take us out along the trails, averaging around 14km/h, a speed specifically targeted at maximising their endurance rather than speed. On one run we follow them in a specialised ATV, on another it's on a one-man buggy, while another takes two passengers. Alan has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on his dogs and the gadgets to train them, the whole process supplemented by a long, lucrative career as a commercial diver. Yet when you're out there and the cold air is rushing past and the raw canine power of the dogs is propelling you through the dramatic landscape, every penny seems worth it. In his mission to put me off becoming a sled dog owner, Alan is successful, but if he'd hoped to put me off the dogs, well, he has failed completely.
The Cairngorms Sled Dog Centre will be open until the end of 2018. A variety of experiences and courses are on offer before then. See sled-dogs.co.uk
In the heart of Aviemore, the warm and welcoming Ravenscraig B&B offers a slice of Highland hospitality and great access to the town's winter sports hubs.
Jamie Lafferty travelled as a guest of Visit Scotland.