When Minnesota winters roll around, there's no one quite as excited as Tyler Conklin's Siberian Huskies, Laska and Luna.
"They love the snow. When the winter comes, they'll want to be outside all day," Conklin said. "Obviously the [summer] heat's kind of hard on them sometimes – you'll hear them panting and trying to get back in the house. Luna will stay outside, she'll just try to find shade, but Laska, he'll try getting inside. Especially being from the Midwest, I love the seasons, and it's perfect."
The Vikings tight end grew up in Michigan and moved to the Twin Cities when Minnesota drafted him in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. As a rookie, he brought home Laska, the black-and-white Husky with one blue eye and one brown eye.
Conklin describes Laska as the people-lover.
Whether it's Conklin, his girlfriend Scottie or his friends, Laska always is seeking out someone to spend time with and cuddle with.
"He loves to run … he likes chasing squirrels and birds, but for the most part, he's pretty mild," Conklin said. "I mean, if he's in the house, he's just laying around, wanting to get petted."
Laska was an "only child" for a year before Conklin and Scottie added a second canine to the clan. Luna also has one blue and one brown eye but has a fluffy, nearly all-white coat.
Luna's personality couldn't differ any more from her brother's.
"She's a little more of a typical Husky. High-energy, likes to get into stuff," Conklin explained. "If you let her out, she'll sit outside on the top of the hill in the backyard all day, where Laska's crying to get back in and hang out with the family. … She's a little more [naughty]. She likes to get into stuff and cause problems.
"Laska doesn't really do anything wrong, honestly. He's definitely the Golden Child," Conklin added with a smile. "Luna's just lucky that she's super cute. And she's built kind of funny for a Husky, so it makes her [even cuter]."
When it came to choosing a dog breed, Conklin didn't have to think twice about it.
Growing up, his family also had a pair of Huskies – Shadow, a black-and-white male; and Pepper, a female who was mainly white.
"Ever since I was young, I've always kind of loved Siberian Huskies, how they look like wolves and the way they act," Conklin said. "I love everything about them."
The only downfall, he admitted, is the long hair left clinging to any place – or anyone – the pups have been around.
"Besides the [shedding], they're great," Conklin said. "And they don't bark a lot. When they do, they 'talk.' It's hard to explain how they talk – I'm not going to try to mimic it – but it's definitely cute when you come home from work or whatever you're doing and they just start kind of talking to you."
Conklin laughed that the pups are "spoiled rotten" by Scottie, who takes them to a Minneapolis dog park multiple times a week and started an Instagram account (@laskalunaconklin) for them.
"I have nothing to do with that," he quipped. "That's all my girlfriend. She loves Instagram and taking pictures."
Asked to compare his pets to two of his teammates, he thought for a moment between likening Laska to Conklin's fellow tight end Kyle Rudolph.
"Rudy … one of the older guys who just handles his business, good with everybody. That's how I would compare Laska," Conklin said. "And then Luna, being a little more of a troublemaker, that's hard because I can't throw anybody under the bus."
After a few seconds, though, he committed to an answer.
"She's a little more outspoken, so I'd say maybe Kris Boyd? Just because Kris is always talking or doing something, and that's how Luna is," Conklin said. "She's always getting into stuff or barking or messing with people … Kris is always messing around with people in the locker room."
Despite the extra responsibility of being a pet owner and sometimes being challenged by Luna "always getting into stuff," Conklin can't envision a life without his dogs.
"They're honestly great," he said. "I was really nervous about getting a dog, especially a Husky – my dad was like, 'They love to run, they're stubborn' – and it's honestly been one of the best decisions I've made.
"They're family," he added. "You come home, you've got two kids – I know they're not real kids, but they're my kids. It's just a sense of home, a sense of family. I'll have dogs for my whole life."
Vikings Connected is a light hearted look at the Vikings players and organization through social media as well as an opportunity to showcase the personalities on the team. Returning for their 7th season are co-hosts Erin Newburg, and Chris Hawkey from the Vikings Radio Flagship KFAN.