I look into those eyes of blue,
intelligence just shining through.
I hear the sound of 40 feet,
pulling a sled through the sleet.
That sled has gone into the night,
the runners swished, then out of sight.
All this passed into my mind,
how could I have been so blind.
Those furry beings noble and true,
the ones with eyes so blue.
Their story passed in just one glance,
they went on by and seemed to prance.
Their lives may be ruled by chance,
but proud they are, and will advance.
Once they’ve set that crazy pace,
life for them is just a race.
And as they passed… I felt the heat,
heard the drumming of their feet.
Passing me the stories of kin,
emanating from their furry skins.
They ran with everything they had,
wanting to make their ancestors glad.
I stood alone in the dark that night,
watching those hounds, go out of sight.
I knew I had to tell the stories,
of sled dogs, and their race to glory.
Togo pulled that line so tight,
15 dogs behind his might.
Seppala hooked up his dogs,
In the growing morning fog.
When he stepped upon the runners,
16 dogs and half were brothers.
They looked back howling with glee,
ready for Seppala to set them free.
Sepp looked at those fluffy butts,
16 dogs with nothing but guts.
He was proud and gave the command,
time to cross this frozen land.
Digging hard with nails of stone,
they pulled that sled for parts unknown.
Togo led that team of dogs,
into history and through that fog.
Ice was breaking all around,
it was 1925 in Norton sound.
Togo listened to his master Sepp,
“Take us home boy!” So, Togo leapt.
They crossed the ice twice that day,
Serum packed upon the sleigh.
They didn’t run for glory,
didn’t run to make a story.
They ran for love, a sacrifice,
to the man as cool as ice.
For him they would give their all,
they would answer the master’s call.
Togo would never run again,
his old bones had given in.
12 years old that fateful day,
he’d led that team and the sleigh.
Seppala told him, “My fine friend,
I thought I’d never see your end.”
With grizzled snout Togo nuzzled him,
Seppala cried when Togo cuddled in.
The greatest sled dog there has ever been,
both of them knew it was near his end.
Thousands of miles in all weather,
Togo and Sepp had traveled together.
Both of them have long since passed,
Togo and Seppala, their legends last.
Time is short:
Born blind and deaf upon the hay,
she could not feel the summer rays.
Locked inside a plywood box,
safe and sound amid moms’ locks.
Struggling for a nice warm teat,
that milk of life so sweet.
How quickly she did grow,
soon she learned of perfect snow.
The days went by much too fast,
her youth was gone it didn’t last.
She earned her place on the sled,
and for her work she was fed.
There was no time to be slack,
those who did lost the pack.
Only the strong would survive,
that is how the pack did thrive.
Working hard all day long,
followed with the evening songs.
Singing out the song of the life,
curling up on the frozen ice.
Nose tucked under a curly tail,
cold wind blowing in a gale.
Thankful for God’s furry gift,
sleeping soundly amid the drifts.
Dawn came peaking around,
dogs popping up from the ground.
A new day bloomed just ahead,
no time to worry or dread.
Life is short by any means,
the sin is not to chase your dreams.
Huskies chase those dreams each day,
Even if they have to pull a sleigh.
Dogs born unto the endless nights,
fearless beings who bring the light.
Look into those eyes so bright,
eyes that have second sight.
Souls that have seen it all before,
living large and want some more.
They know that time is short,
living life is not a sport.
Not many knew the name so well,
it was shaped like a ship’s bell.
Fire Lake you’ll never find,
living there was never kind.
Nestled in the glaciers view,
down below those icy pews.
Named for the fire of man’s desires,
dreams of riches and golden spires.
Zia was born unto that clan,
a clan made up of dogs and man.
A life of toil and trouble ahead,
but that is why she was bred.
Gold mines had come and passed,
love was lost at such a cost.
To work and struggle was her fate,
as she was lifted and saw Nate.
A pup she was… and subject too,
this human that she was destined to.
Her coat the color of Raven black,
brown eyes shining above her snout.
He said, hello my little one,
I’ll always love you until we are done.
She had no idea what he meant,
but she felt his love inside that tent.
Zia grew into her new life,
a world of danger and strife.
But through it all Nate never failed,
his love for her never paled.
For ten years she led that sled,
at night she rested in his bed.
She could sense his love at night,
snuggling under those Northern lights.
And then he fell through the ice,
he cut the line, a final sacrifice.
Hand reaching out as he sank,
A tribute to… and maybe thanks.
Heartbroken she watched him go,
and then it started to snow.
She led the team across that ice,
twelve dogs as quiet as mice.
Maybe it was never meant to be,
Nate and her running free.
For ten years she’d loved that man,
and given him everything she can.
Many adventures they had shared,
her and that man she’d been paired.
For all those years of his love,
she howled her pain to the stars above.
Nothing ventured and nothing gained,
Zia thought as she chewed those reins.
Her kin were free to make their way,
together across that frozen bay.
He’d loved her, and they would meet,
someday again at God’s feet.
But now everything was at stake,
they had to survive at Fire lake.
I offer you two photos to consider. They are in fact worlds apart to those who do not see. What in the world does a stack of wood, and a team of sleddogs have in common?
Beauty can be found in many places, a clear blue mountain stream, or a sunset that takes your breath away. So many things that most people realize as beautiful. But there is much more to behold if you look.
I ask you to look beyond the obvious, and find the beauty of life that surrounds us.
This stack of wood was hand carried by a crew I hired to take down a huge oak tree before the hurricane hit. It was leaning and probably would hit my house if the winds pushed it. They were Mexican workers, men with families, with hopes and dreams for a better life.
They took down this tree and they carried each of those huge heavy blocks of oak on their backs, and stacked it nicely for me to split. They did this for $250 dollars each for a day’s work. They were polite, and respectful regardless of the huge job they undertook.
$250 dollars in Virginia will not take you far, but to them it was life. They worked hard to please me for that money, because they needed it to help them survive.
I find beauty in many things and this was one of them, because I applaud excellence, hard work, and giving the best you can, no matter what that task is before you. There is beauty in the struggle of life, and there is beauty in anything that anyone does to the best of their ability.
You have to appreciate talent, no matter if its stacking wood or singing a song. Everyone has their own talents and that is what makes this country great. A combination of different skills that together becomes greater than the sum of the individuals.
This is exemplified in the dogs that run races all over the world. The Iditarod is the best known, but in many places, the dogs’ and people that race are unknown. It doesn’t matter because they strive for excellence and they do their best. Just like these men that cut down my tree and stacked my wood.
I don’t want criminals to invade this country but I would welcome hardworking souls of any race who struggle to make their lives better. I appreciate hard work and I’ve done my own share of it to know that it matters…a lot. Freeloaders and crooks…not so much.
There is beauty in teamwork like the dogs pulling a sled. They work hard and they work as a team to accomplish what they set out to do. The “why” they do it is not as important as the journey and the struggle. They accomplish something or they don’t, but trying is what makes the world a better place.
Look around you in your daily life and you may find a lot more beauty than you thought possible. It’s all around us in everyday life…the struggle, the triumphs and failures that makes up our own lives.
General George S. Patton said, “If a man gives his all…what else is there?”
If we all give our all no matter what we do, the team will succeed and maybe fail, but the fact is we did it together and there is a greater chance of success when we all work together.
Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, and there is a lot to see if you look past the obvious.
As I sit and wait for the Hurricane to invade the east coast I’m keeping busy with
preparations to defend the home front. Now that those are done, I’ve started to work on a book cover. It probably won’t end up like this at all, but all good things have to start somewhere.
I’m pretty excited about this book! I think many are going to really appreciate what version II has to offer. I’ve been quiet lately because I’ve put a lot of time into this new project. I’m working with Doug to flush out and include many things that never appeared in the first version.
Right now, it’s over 200 pages of DW information and history (more to follow). Compiled from his first books with new things added daily as we correspond. Much of this has never has been read before.
Background information about how Doug became involved with the Seppala’s and how he carved out his own piece of Seppala history. Racing records, breeding insights, and of course photo’s and information about those special dogs that are in almost everyone’s pedigrees.
Over 200 photos of which at least half are color and probably haven’t been seen before. These are from DW’s private collection of race photo’s, greatest team highlights, and of course those famous dogs that defeated the Alaskan Huskies in the open class races so many times.
I hope to have it done before the end of the year, but I’m not going to push it until it’s the best work I can produce. After reading, typing, and living this new book…I’m positive no one is going to complain about the content.
It’s history, and its just pretty damn awesome to read and learn from. For sure it’s going to be a book that you want to add to your collection.
I feel privileged getting to know and talk with Doug about dogs and his part in the Seppala’s. Now it’s a matter of putting in down for everyone else to enjoy.
To the Sanctimonious Herd:
This goes out to all those who think they know dogs. Those that put themselves above and beyond thousands of years of DNA and common sense. The Facebook know it all’s who troll these halls of electronic miss information.
My girl Nikki turns three years old on the 13th of September. She was born on an Amish farm in Pennsylvania. To no fault of her own, anymore than we can choose who, or where, we are born into this world.
But to some of you this is some kind of abomination, me buying a dog from the Amish is some kind of evil thing I’ve done because I’m stupid. Nikki proves just how wrong you are in your racist interpretation of the dog world.
Nikki is in fact an admirable representative of the Siberian Husky people. She works hard in harness, and loves harder than you can imagine. Small of stature, and huge in heart, she has proven over and over again what a great dog she is.
She doesn’t care where she was born, she doesn’t care what you think, and really…neither do I. The proof is in the pudding and she’s proven to be an above average husky regardless of her birth place.
The dogs make the kennel, and they make you…who you are. Unless you breed dogs of your own, then you really didn’t do anything except own them. Without them doing the work, and being what they are, you are nothing more than a care giver claiming false glory of how wonderful and smart you are.
For Nikki’s 3rd birthday this is my gift to her. To right the wrongs done to her for being born on the south side of the tracks. To stand up and say what she would if she really cared. But then she is a husky and to her it really doesn’t matter.
She is above human pettiness…she is a Siberian Husky.
Happy Birthday Nikki!
Under the Northern Lights:
Born under the Northern Lights,
to a tribe of man and dogs.
Blind and deaf she arrived,
mother kept her safe from frights.
Warm and sound with her brothers around,
she learned to fight for food.
Life was granted to those who held their own,
there was no easy life, next to Norton sound.
An old cabin stacked up in the woods,
the old man’s name was Kane.
He smelled a bit like smoking meat,
but they had food, in those backwoods.
She grew up with love around,
her name was Misty Eyes.
She quickly learned the way it was,
to the life that she was bound.
She heard the call as others had,
they came from long ago.
It whispered in her ears at night,
“You’re alive” a reason to be glad.
Misty grew and was subject to,
the forces of the north.
She fought her battles valiantly,
as her kind was meant to do.
At night she snuggled up to Kane,
the master of her pack.
He scratched her ears and loved her,
and doing so eased the pain.
There was no gold even though,
they had searched for it for years.
His dogs had done their very best,
their hearts were always true.
When Kane died… he had no regrets,
he’d lived his life in full.
Now his pack was free to go their way,
Misty led them away… with no debts.
She led her pack…Toward the northern lights,
a beacon in the sky.
Lonely dogs who only knew of servitude,
with no master within their sights.
Their smelly man with gentle hands,
had passed into the night.
He’d left them all alone, a fate unknown,
for the furry little band.
When all seemed lost, they came across,
a snowy den of Igloo Jacks.
He lived alone way out on the ice pack,
maybe he could be their new boss.
Jack crawled on out with broken teeth,
and such a sight he saw.
Dogs danced around in front of him,
their love they would bequeath.
He got down on his knees to give thanks,
to the God’s that brought them there.
Life was hard and he’d almost lost his hope,
until these dogs arrived upon his banks.
A dozen dogs joined him in a feast,
inside the frozen hut of Igloo Jacks.
Frozen fish never tasted so good,
to the man and his new beasts.
Misty laid by the man, her heart all alight,
full of fish and safe at last she lulled.
Inside her belly… her puppies kicked,
safe and sound… from the frights.
Clear and cold their world would unfold,
in just another fortnight.
They would make their way or fade away,
that was life, under the northern lights.
Maybe only dog drivers will understand the significance of this upcoming litter. More Seppala Siberians will enter the world to carry on the legacy. These are the direct descendants of Leonhard Seppala’s original dogs. Their numbers are dangerously low and our mission at Poland Springs Kennels is to keep them from disappearing into the night.
We’re expecting in mid to late October. God willing, more Seppala’s will come into the world healthy and ready to continue the legacy. I’m excited about this upcoming litter! PSK Polar Bear of Deer Creek x PSK Frost of Starfire. Follow Poland Spring Kennels @ https://www.facebook.com/PSKSeppalas/?ref=bookmarks
The legend will continue if we can help it.
To Follow Your Heart:
This seems like and easy thing to do at first read. Many have said it, but few have done it. As I learn more about my dog friends it becomes clear that they are more like us than most people take the time to realize.
Have you ever heard the term “Suffrage?”
Suffrage – a legal right guaranteed by the 15th amendment to the US Constitution; guaranteed to women by the 19th amendment; “American women got the vote in 1920”
Up until 1920 women were not allowed to vote. They were in fact considered property of their husbands or father’s. They suffered until this law made them no longer “property.”
Dogs to this day are still considered to be “Property” of whoever holds a scrap of paper issued by some registration organization. To me this is an injustice equal to holding any living being back from being whatever they are. Dog’s continue to suffer as they have for thousands of years, still hoping that someday we humans will figure it out.
Dogs follow their heart, they follow the instincts bred inside them. To be a worker or a lap dog, we created them through specific breeding to be exactly what they are. But the one thing we can’t control is the heart. They have an unbreakable ability to love despite being mistreated or abused.
It’s certainly not a fault, and if it is… humans need a big dose of it.
We chase money, material items, and partners that look good or have something we want. For the most part we don’t follow our hearts. We succumb to pressure to be this or that. Whether that comes from society or our parents…we are programmed from a young age to chase a particular dream. It may not be our dream, but it is the dream of those who raised us.
And this is where humans and dogs differ. Dogs have dreams as well, maybe not the ones we have planned for them. They will follow their hearts first and listen to us later…maybe.
They may suffer in silence, but still they have hope. They accept abuse because they have no choice. They want to live as much as anything alive does. They dream and hope that who they depend on for life will not forget their needs. Will not forget their water and food and exercise. That they will encourage and help them attain those dreams like we would our own kids.
In return for that they give love, even if we don’t deserve it…it remains true. Dogs have huge hearts, forgiveness, and hope that love will conquer all.
They follow their hearts, and that is something we all could learn from. It may not be the easy path but it’s the one with the most rewards.
Follow your heart whether it be with dogs or humans. It’s not an easy path but in the end it’s worth it…for that is where true love lies waiting for you.
I’ve worked for The Air Force for some 18 years, and the Army for a couple of more. You see the military is a higher calling for most, and it’s not to say that our brothers in arms don’t abide by the same core values, for they do in their own verbiage. It might be different words but the same goals.
The Air Force core values are: Integrity first, Service before self, and Excellence in all we do.
I suddenly realized that these core values are the same ones exhibited by dogs. Maybe that’s where the came from? I don’t know for sure, but they seem to exemplify dogs in general.
Integrity First: The bottom line is doing the right thing even when no one is looking. From saving Nome in the serum run of 1925 to detecting mines, finding victims of earthquakes, and avalanches to name a few they do the right thing.
Service before self: Service before self tells us that doing the right things take precedence over personal desires. From the front lines of the military, police officers, and service dogs in general they give their all regardless of the risks.
Excellence in all we do: Excellence in all we do directs us to develop a sustained passion for continuous improvement, and to be more than we ever thought possible. No matter the skill level a dog will do his best to please us. We may not be happy with the results but they give everything they have. You cannot ask for more from anyone or anything than their best.
So, what can we learn from dogs? Pretty much everything that is important. Try to emulate a dog, and you will do well.
They Heard the Call:
I think a lot about dogs, huskies in particular and Seppalas hold a special spot in my heart. They changed my life and sometimes I need to stop and figure out how and why. Now I’m not alone in this, because many of you mushers already know what I’m talking about.
Those who drive dogs have heard the call. The call of the wild if you will. And I can bet it was brought on sometime by the influence of our furry friends. They don’t talk, and they don’t push, but the message comes in loud and clear to many of us.
Once the spirit of the Northern blood dogs takes over, you are forever hooked. America was formed by those tired of being pushed around. Subjected to laws they didn’t believe in and suppressed in what they believed religiously, or in many other ways. They wanted to be free, they wanted to risk it all to form a new country where everyone could be what they wanted.
They blazed a trail into a foreign land. One full of unknowns and danger. It didn’t matter because the spirit to be free drove them. To them the risks were worth the prize. The ability to choose one’s own destiny was worth any price whether they chose right or wrong.
They explored and they tamed a country. They discovered gold, they opened up new lands so that all those who followed could carve out a new life. Raise their families and enjoy being free. They broke the trail and gave others hope.
Now as this country has slowly been absorbed by virtual reality, couch sitting, TV, and any other distractions that robs you of being real…we are enjoying the fruits of our non-labor. Lazy and fat, we don’t do much because we are comfortable, and have lost the edge that kept those who came before us alive.
Enter the Northern breeds whether they be Alaskan Huskies or Siberians, or another breed that survived the demands of life above the comfort zone.
They know instinctively about sacrifice in order to be free. They hear the call and they answer it every minute they live. For there is no other way to live and be happy in their minds.
Now the PETA folks would have you believe that they are unhappy being staked out. They would much be better off dead or pampered fat dogs that don’t do anything.
I watched a video of Martin Buser sitting in the middle of a compound with 50 dogs staked out. They were all content and quiet. Martin said something that stuck with me. “Here we are in the middle of 50 dogs and its silent. The reason is their needs are being met. They are happy and quiet because they have love, they have food, and tomorrow we run.”
The staking is the equivalent of our own 40-hour work week. We endure it so we can enjoy the weekend and do what we really want. It’s no different for the dogs. They endure the stakes and a small patch of ground so they can relish their time on the team running. This is what they put up with to enjoy the small amount of time doing what they really love. We do the same but nobody is trying to save us.
The call isn’t heard by all. It’s heard by those few who have the same DNA of our forefathers who forged a new land. They answer the call and mush dogs, for that is what they both love.
That my friends is freedom. That is the pact between humans and these amazing sleddogs. It was formed thousands of years ago, and still exist today in these dogs. You only have to unleash it, and become part of it if you hear the call.