To the Anti Sled Dog Activist:
Just another example of how wrong you are about everything you think you know. Anyone else in tune with their dogs will see every word Rob wrote is true. I can feel it, and see it in this video, and I know you will as well. The dogs are everything to a real musher.
Excuse the self-indulgence. I agonized all last weekend over this decision. I really needed to drop from 28 to 24 dogs in training. Three candidates were kind of obvious and whilst I knew who the fourth needed to be I still did not want to make the decision.
However Maddie has really stopped enjoying running, the start of this video shows that so clearly, and whilst she would never give up I knew I had to make the decision. The time had come to retire her from the main team and so on Tuesday, I decided to take her out for one final run in lead with the main team who she has shared tens of thousands of trail miles with – for old time’s sake.
It is probably not a surprise but I cried a lot as we ran (and I am crying now as I write this). For her final run, I put her in lead next to Psycho – I am not sure how much she appreciated that but she has run next to him in lead so much. I wish it had not been so dark at the end of the run as she was so happy when we got back to the yard, smiling at me and wagging her bum frantically as she always does when she knows she has done an amazing job.
I have written an article about her exploits which we will share initially to Patreon and eventually to a wider audience but for now a video of her final run. I apologize for the music but it captures how I am feeling.
I’m making a frame for his portrait. Then he will be going on the wall with my other dogs’ paintings.
We got a great review from Mr. Rob Cooke. Finisher of 6 Yukon Quest, and 2 Iditarods. He runs purebred Siberians, not Alaskan Huskies. Thanks Rob!
******5.0 out of 5 stars.
A very good and informative read
October 6, 2019Format: Paperback
I set out to read The Seppala Siberian Sleddog – II with some degree of trepidation, particularly as I had promised to write a review on completion.
I have never been a fan of the ‘Seppala Program’. I don’t accept Seppala’s as a distinct breed of dog, rather a line of Siberian Husky much in the same way as Kodiak, Northome, Tsuga, Anadyr etc. are lines of Siberian Huskies albeit the Seppala line is a line that dates back to the origins of the breed in North America.
I thought, and still do think, the whole UKC program was both misguided and divisive. I think egos and personalities have also done a great deal of damage to the reputation of the line, in particular, those who think Sepalla’s are better than other Siberian Huskies lines in some way, who hold them up as superior working dogs but who have never actually bothered to work them themselves.
Without really knowing any better I had previously lumped Doug Willett into this group and so, all these things considered, I did wonder why I was reading the book. I was, however, very, very pleasantly surprised in many aspects. First, the Seppala Siberian Sleddog – II is a great history of the working side of the North American Siberian Husky. Many of the dogs that are featured in the book appear way back in our pedigrees; the pictures, pedigrees and personal accounts of such incredible dogs are priceless and highly informative.
I also learned a great deal about Willett’s history and background that was, I am ashamed to say, new to me – in particular about his race successes with Siberian Huskies. But what shocked and surprised me the most, and what I will really take away from reading the book, was how much I both found myself liking Willett but also agreeing with him on so many points – something I never thought I would do. Time and time again, as I kept turning the pages, I kept thinking ‘that could be me, I agree with that, that is how I think too’.
More than that though here was someone who really did talk the talk, he knew the only way to assess a working dog is through working and performance and he set out to achieve that. I found myself agreeing with how he assessed dogs, the qualities he thought were the most important in sled dogs and whilst we would never be able to breed the number of litters he produced, I found myself agreeing with his breeding principles.
There was also a great deal to think about in the book, new information to learn and digest. Whilst in Europe this summer a number of us were discussing Willett’s belief that some dogs can produce much stronger male offspring over females and vice versa or how some characteristics can skip a generation; I started to think about our on breedings and how that might be true.
We should always be learning and so I was very pleased to learn a great deal from a book that, initially, I was not too enthralled to be reading.
Despite my initial trepidation, I would highly recommend this book to everyone, Seppala aficionado or otherwise, maybe especially the Seppala aficionados who might need reminding of Willett’s underlying principles. The Seppala Siberian Sleddog – II is informative, well written, enjoyable and thought-provoking and supported throughout by the great prose of T M Johnson. One of the better Siberian Husky books I have read
🙂 Rob Cooke Shaytaan Siberian Huskies.https://www.amazon.com/Seppala-Siberian-Sleddog-II
I love the dogs of winter so much I’m driven. Driven to write about them, paint them, write poems about them and why? Because they have infected my soul. I don’t think I paint well enough to give them just dues but I keep learning. I keep pushing my comfort level and drive on. Because that’s what my dogs would do. I learn from them, I push on in spite of my insecurity, I post it to the world.
“She’s a Killer Queen
Dynamite with a laser beam
Guaranteed to blow your mind
Anytime” ~Lyrics by Queen
“The Prey drive is strong in this one.”
Tonight’s episode is explained best by age’s old Husky DNA. You see, in the early days back in the frozen Chukchi peninsula in Russia. Which is next to the Bearing sea where these dogs evolved from and would eventually become Siberian Huskies were already thousands of years old.
(To simplify this story, I will refer to these early dogs as Huskies that they would eventually become.)
In the winter, they pulled sleds and were fed for their work. They also kept the children warm at night. The temperature was told by how many dogs it took. It might be a two-dog night, or like the famous rock band, it might even be a “Three Dog Night.”
When the short summer came, they had no work to do. The dogs were set free to fend for themselves. Being of sound mind, athletic bodies, and hungry… they did what you would expect any living thing to do. They hunted to stay alive until the next winter and a much more comfortable gig.
You wonder why a husky digs? They dig for shelter when needed, but mostly they dig for any food they might find. They also developed skills at hunting rodents, and well…anything edible, including birds. Nothing was safe from a hungry husky.
For thousands of years, this cycle became part of their DNA. It still exists in today’s dogs. Some more than others, but it’s there.
Tonight the young Queen born on a Pennsylvania Amish farm scored her second kill. The first being a squirrel, she swallowed whole before I could pry it out of her jaws. Tonight’s kill was a bird. Of what variety, I have no clue because it was still warm and mangled once I got it away from her.
If you remember my last episode with the Queen, you might remember the growling incident over a bone. This time there was no growling. The Queen took flight with her bird because she knew she would have to surrender it to me.
Eventually, she gave up running and surrendered her prize with no growling. Ten minutes later, the whole thing was forgotten. She had no hard feelings as I took it and tossed it in the woods beyond the fence. Nikki resumed her place around by the pool, looking for the next poor chipmunk that would brave invading her domain.
Nikki exhibits all the traits of her ancestors. I’m pretty proud of her. Un-papered, but DNA tested as a purebred. If you know the husky history, you wouldn’t have any doubts about the royal blood in her veins.
Queen Nikki is the real deal.
There are many things in life that drive us. Bills that need paying being one of the most important ones. The problem with that is it takes away from what we really want to do. I work hard as you do to pay the bills but that is not what I really want to do. What I want to do is write, paint, build, etc.
Many of my friends are driven by playing music. It’s in their souls, it’s life and the place where they are happiest. You too, I imagine that you have your own dreams and desires that drive you. The rest of humanity not so much, because they are content to just exist. There is more to life than just existing!
The dogs of winter have taught me much. They too are driven, they are driven to run. To expand their horizons and see what lies beyond the next curve in the trail. They are explorers, they are adventurers they are free spirits only held back by their reliance on us. Some food, some love, and some medical care is all they require to be happy.
In exchange for those things, they open up a whole new world to us humans. The thrill of blasting down a trail by dog power is almost a spiritual experience that cannot be explained by words. It is something you have to try to really understand it.
Don’t end up being trapped by life’s constraints. Think about how to mitigate them, how to achieve whatever dream it is that you have. It requires some sacrifice on your part because nothing worth having comes easy. It comes from the struggle on your part. That struggle molds you into a better human being. You learn to accept the faults of others, and your own.
Do not forsake those seeking knowledge. Share the wisdom you have although it might not be perfect. When you look into the eyes of a child or puppy there is no difference. They seek knowledge and leadership from you to be the very best they can be. It’s our job to make it happen.