This is a collection of photos at Team Ineka and Broken Runner Kennel during the 2011-2012 season
- Team Ineka – Let’s Roll!! (robertforto.com)
This is a collection of photos at Team Ineka and Broken Runner Kennel during the 2011-2012 season
You Are Never To Old Too Run Sled Dogs
By Robert Forto and Mac McClanahan (Nov. 2000)
I said, “Sure come on over!”
This is his story.
Mac McClanahan is 82 years old and full of life. He said that he has done just about everything; flew helicopters in the Korean War, forced landed three planes, paraglide, walked the Colorado trail, but nothing compares to being behind a team of dogs. Mac said it was one of the most emotional times of his life the first time he was behind a team of dogs and that was just a mere two weeks ago.
Mac was looking for a dog last year that could meet some pretty rigid requirements. After months of research and reams of paper on the internet, he and his wife Melba, decided on a Siberian Husky. They put their plan into action and happened to find exactly what they were looking for. They found a female, open faced, gray, with blue eyes that had the build of a sled dogs, according to all of the books that Mac had read. Why a female? On Melba’s insistence, she said that you can’t get smarter than a woman and if you wanted a lead dog you needed a female. They must have made the right choice because it just so happens that the dog that they picked is a sister to one of our sled dogs here at Team Ineka, Nixon.
For the past year, Mac had been working with his new dog and friend, Chukchi, which Mac says means “sled puller”. Mac says, “I thought I would give her a name and hope that she can live up to it. It is her destiny!” They walked miles and miles and even walked a portion of the Colorado Trail this summer. Mac says “I was walking with friends 30 to 40 years my junior and if it wasn’t for Chukchi I might not have made it to the top of that pass.”
Mac’s goal is to run with some of Team Ineka’s dogs this year in a race or two with a team of three or four dogs. He is working very hard on his training and he and his dog are doing great. Right now they come over for a “session” twice a week and we try to teach something new each time. He is learning quickly. He has been dragged, had a dog fight with a dog on the trail, and even gotten lost when his team took off too fast for me to catch him with my team.
We talked about the future of the sport and what he thought about the Iditarod and he said he thinks the future is very bright. Mac said that this is a “word of mouth” sport and he will do his best to promote it. He said that he has lived in Colorado for seven years and has seen lots of dog trucks driving around but nothing else. He said that needs to change.
There needs to be more advertising in local papers and different forms of media. Mac said that he is telling everyone that he talks to that he is running sled dogs. When he does everyone stops, their ears perk up, and they want to know more and more.
That is what this sport needs. More ambitious people like Mac. His spirit keeps me motivated and all I want to do is train and train.
Mac ended by saying, “I don’t know if she (Chukchi) has the ability to be a good lead dog or if she ever will, but I do know that she has a mind of her own and when she wants to listen she will do just that.”
Well, we are going to try our best to make that dream happen for Mac and Chukchi, she is a natural in harness and will be running in races this year. I have already promised him that.
Rupert Sheldrake is a biologist and author of works on telepathy research, and morphic resonance that explains the ability of dogs and other animals to communicate by a term he calls “Morphic Resonance” . He uses that term to explain many behaviours that others put down to genetics, or family or species memory. I like the term “Learned instinct” to explain behavior that is passed from one generation to another for as long as the instinct is needed or cultivated. Examples of Learned Instinct have included pair bonding in humans when that behavior was needed for species survival. When human ancestors first walked upright and hunting became the main way of life, society went through major changes. Previous to the hunting lifestyle, so research claims, our ancestors lived in close knit groups where the group was responsible for the safety and teaching of the young. Pair bonding was unnecessary and even detrimental to the groups survival. Once hunting became a way of life, the group was no longer viable because of the distances traveled for successful hunting. Pair bonding became necessary for the upbringing of the slow to mature human offspring and the assured return of the hunting male to the homebound female. Todays society is changing in such a fashion that the community offers the support to the mother and offspring that hasn’t been available for 10’s of 1000’s of years. Some researchers give that reason for todays high divorce rates and the seemingly lack of strong pair-bonding is given as the reason for the high incidence of divorce. My question is this, are the specific behaviors bred into dogs, genetic or are they a learned instinct? Will the behavior of dogs that were bred for a specific purpose that are now bred for show alone, lose the natural desire to do the job they were specifically bred for? Does a specific behavior, not required when dogs were wild, become a genetic trait, a family memory, or a learned instinct? Will the siberians and other working type dogs lose their true desire to do a job when the family has no job?
Al Magaw is a musher from Salmo, BC. Al keeps a medium sized kennel of 20 – 45 alaskan huskies as well as several pet dogs of various breeds. Al has been training and racing for the last 33 years. Before becoming involved with sled dogs, Al, along with his family, kept and competed with horses for many years. Al can be reached through his website athttp://www.spiritofthenorthkennels.com Al is a guest blogger for Denver Dog Works and can be reached through our website athttp://www.denverdogworks.com
Who are These Dogs That Pull Sleds
By Robert Forto, PhD
Who are these dogs that pull sleds? Are they purebreds or mongrels? What sets them apart from other dogs and enables them to work with man under brutal weather conditions? What sort of strange dog is it that yammers and yowls to be a part of a team, preferring to work or race than rest in a warm kennel?
Written pedigrees are not required to enter a sled dog race, nor does the dog have to be a northern breed, although a majority of dogs on the racing trail are related to working dogs of the North. These dogs have a strong instinct to pull. These dogs can be everything from an American Kennel Club registered Siberian Husky, a “one-quarter husky” mixed breed, or any variety in between. These dogs can be Irish Setters, Walker Coonhounds or even a Border Collie. In search of an unbeatable dog team, dozens and dozens of cross-breedings, in-breedings and line breedings have been tried. Some breeders work within a recognized breed, seeking to refine that breed’s natural talents; others select the fastest and strongest or whatever dogs come to their attention, caring more about performance than good looks or a fancy pedigree.
The Siberian Husky
The most popular of the registered breeds for sled dog racing is the Siberian Husky. An uncommonly attractive dog, the Siberian evokes for many the call of the wild, the lure of the North. The finely chiseled, fox-like head, the pricked ears, the “mask” markings on the face, and the expressive eyes (often a light, icy blue), seems to personify the romantic image of the North country. In temperament, Sibes, as they are often called, can be affectionate or aloof, playful or serious. They are basically gentle, protective dogs. Stories about their exploits as guardians of children are legend, and a keener companion would be hard to find.
Siberians are bred today for the show ring or for racing, and sometimes for both. The original standard of the breed, accepted by the American Kennel Club in 1930, purposefully described the qualities of the Siberian that made him a fine working animal.The peoples of the Chukchi Peninsula in Siberia had already developed a dog which excelled as a draft animal and companion; in the hands of Alaskan sport racers at the turn of the century the husky from Siberia was selectively bred to improve these desirable traits.
When Leonhard Seppala took some forty-four of these dogs to New England in 1927 and began racing and promoting the breed there, the stage was set for the development of the American Kennel Club registered Siberian Husky. Most of Seppala’s dogs figured significantly in the foundation stocks of such influential eastern kennels as Chinook, Foxstand, and Monadnock (these dogs from Harry Wheeler’s kennel at Gray Rocks carried the suffix “of Seppala”). This researcher even has a spattering of the Seppala lines in his own breeding stock and kennel under the name of Trafalgar. Seven other imported dogs found their way to the kennels of Elizabeth Ricker, in partnership with Seppala, and to Gray Rocks. The two males in Quebec, Kree-Vanka and Tserko, influenced the registered breed tremendously. In 1946, two descendents of these dogs were sent back to Alaska, care of Earl and Natalie Norris’s Anadyr Kennels, and a new generation of racing drivers rekindled the interest of Alaska in Siberian Huskies.
Siberians predominated on the best New England teams in the thirties, forties, and fifties. Roland Lombard drove Siberians when he won the World Championships at The Pas in 1957, and took second at the North American Championship in 1958. His dogs, especially one named Igloo Pak’s Tok, showed excellent Siberian conformation and would have provided tough competition in the show ring. In Alaska in the fifties, Champion Tyndrum’s Oslo, C.D.X. led the team of Charles and Kit MacInnes to dozens of victories. Champion Bonzo of Anadyr, C.D., led Earl and Natalie Norris team in sixteen championship races and was never out of the money.
The suffix of C.D.X. and C.D. are titles given to dogs at an American Kennel Club obedience trial. C.D.X. stands for Companion Dog Excellent and C.D. stands for Companion dog. These are advanced titles for a sled dog to obtain. Most of the time these titles are given to dogs that show promise for service dog work such as guide dogs for the blind or assistance dogs. For a sled dog to obtain these titles shows an excellent temperament and the ability to adapt to training. This in turn shows a strong correlation of the human-canine commination conundrum. Many times pure sled dogs do not do well in the obedience ring due to their innate nature to pull and their desire to roam. In an obedience trial one of the commands that must be mastered is a long down where the handler leaves the sight of the dog for up to five minutes. Typically a sled dog is too anxious to stay in one place for an extended period of time. Therein a sled dog with an advanced title shows the correlation to the sport of dog sledding and the training procedures used to train them.
Purebred Siberian teams abound wherever there is racing, and although they are often eclipsed in speed by the mixed-breed Alaskan Husky, their racing records are solid. Today’s racing Siberian can be a credit to good breeders, for behind the breed statistics (average 22 inches at the shoulders and 45 to 50 pounds), and beneath it’s glossy coat, still stands much of the graceful, intelligent, light footed, speedy husky from Siberia. It seems harder to tell what a blue-eyed dog is thinking than a brown-eyed dog, but when the sporty Siberian is harnessed to a sled, his thoughts are transparent. “He is all go! ( Note: endnotes have been removed for blog posting. If you would like to read article in its entirety please contact me through email at firstname.lastname@example.org )
Next Week: The Alaskan Malamute
Dr. Robert Forto is training for his first Iditarod under the Team Ineka banner. Dr. Forto can be reached through his website at http://www.teamineka.com