The namesake of our team. This is Ineka (IN-eck-A). He was one of the best sled dogs we ever had.
Feeding Dogs the Best Possible Diet
By Al Magaw
Feeding dogs the best diet possible is always a subject that creates controversy. Some people swear by a holistic approach to feeding, more or less paralleling a good human diet, others are as adamant about a raw meat diet. A recent book by Lew Olson, Phd Natural Health, is an interesting read. In an excerpt from his book, he writes –
“We always want our dogs to look great and to perform at their very best. We want our working dogs to have steady endurance and drive. We want our tracking and search and rescue dogs to hold the scent and stay on the trail. We want our agility dogs to have the energy and balance to make the jumps, go through the weaves smoothly and effortlessly, and to handle each obstacle with precision. We need our obedience dogs to stay focused and our Schutzhund dogs to have stamina, courage, and stay on task. We want our conformation dogs to have ground covering side movement and to be happy and confident in the ring. And we all want our dogs to have lean, muscular and fit bodies.
A good diet provides the energy, strength, lean muscle mass and mental focus that is needed to achieve these performance goals. Let’s take a look at the different diet components and how they help with each of these performance goals.”
He goes on to say –
“It takes a lot of energy to digest food, so it is very important to feed foods that are easy to digest, provide the most nutrients, and use the least amounts of energy. For dogs, that food would be fats and protein. The foods to stay away from are carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are found in plant based foods, which include vegetables, grains and fruit. The two main components in plant based foods are sugar and fiber. Dogs have short and simple digestive tracts which are not designed to ferment high fiber foods and cannot break down the cell walls which are composed of cellulose. The dog’s digestive system struggles to digest these foods which takes greater energy, creates more gas and produces large stools of undigested food matter.”
“Fat and proteins are much easier for the dog to digest and produce smaller stools. Harder to digest foods mean a full colon, which Dr. Kronfeld, DVM equated to an extra 20 pound handicap on a race horse:” “Fat is the most important energy source for dogs. Fats are dense in calories which are needed when dogs are working hard and are burning large amounts of calories. Fat also helps to protect their cells from damage. The fat a dogs needs is animal fat. These fats are found in meat, eggs and dairy. High fat diets have been the secret for successful sled dog racing teams for years:
Another important fat is Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids not only help provide energy, they also help the immune system, fight inflammation, help keep the skin and coat healthy and are heart, liver and renal protective. This essential fatty acid is hard to find in foods and breaks down easily when exposed to heat, light or air. I would recommend using fish oil capsules and give one 1000 mg capsule per 10-20 lbs of body weight daily.
The second most important energy source for dogs is animal protein. Animal proteins contain amino acids, which when fed in high quality and quantity, produce glucose in dogs. This keeps their energy level on a stable plane. There no energy crash and it will keep the dog focused without mood swings. Feeding a good variety of animal proteins such as beef, lamb, pork, chicken, eggs, dairy and fish provides a wide swath of amino acids and offers better balance to the diet. Each protein varies somewhat in amino acids so providing a good variety of proteins insures the dog will get all the amino acids needed. Amino acids help repair tissue, keep the organs healthy and help build muscle mass. When your dog is on a diet rich in protein sources, and fresh sources offer better quality, there is no need to ever add synthetic amino acids to its diet.
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
A call for help was flashed across the wires and dog teams were posted at way stations along the route. In an attempt to bring recognition to all the souls that braved the trail, the following account, in its entirety, was taken from Coppinger’s World of Sled Dogs: From Siberia to Sport Racing (Howell Book House 1977):
“The Alaskan Railroad sent a special train out of Anchorage, north to the end of the line in Nenana, with a small package of serum aboard. Waiting at Nenana was William “Wild Bill” Shannon, the U.S. mail driver for the Northern Commercial Company. He set out late on the 27th of January for Tolovana, 52-miles to the northwest, with a team of nine Malamutes, a big working team for those days. The thermometer at the station read -50º. The serum was wrapped in blankets to keep it from the damaging cold.
At noon on the 28th Shannon turned the serum over to Dan Green at Tolovana. Green raced his eight dogs the 31-miles to Manley Hot Springs in weather featuring temperatures of –30º, and a wind of some twenty miles an hour: a chill factor of –70º for Green and his dogs.
At Manley Hot Springs, the Athabascan Indian Jonny Folger took over and ran 28-miles to Fish Lake with a team of eight dogs and the temperature still standing at thirty degrees below zero.
From Fish Lake to Tanana, Sam Joseph carried the serum 26-miles at an amazing average of nine miles an hour. The temperature was dropping.
From Tanana to Kallads, 34-miles away, Titus Nicholi mushed his seven dogs through weather at forty below. There Dave Corning took over in –42º temperatures; he averaged eight miles an hour for the 24 miles from Kallads to the Nine Mile cabin.
He was met by Edgar Kalland who raced his seven dogs to Kokrines, thirty miles away, with the temperature now at –44º.
From Kokrines to Ruby, another thirty miles, Harry Pitka fought his way through a white-out at 47 degrees below zero. He somehow managed an incredible nine miles an hour. At Ruby, Bill McCartney took the package and raced with his seven dogs the 28-miles to Whiskey Creek in slightly warming weather: -43º now.
At Whiskey Creek, seven o’clock at night, Edgar Nollner continued on at –40º for the 24-miles to Galena, with seven dogs.
Edgar’s brother, George Nollner, carried the serum 18-miles from Galena to Bishop Mountain with the same seven dogs, and the temperatures began to plunge. The dogs trotted the whole 42-miles for the Nollner brothers; it was too dark to lope.
At Bishop Mountain, the 22-year-old Athabascan Charlie Evans began with a team of nine dogs the run to Nulato, thirty miles away. The temperature dived to 64 degrees below zero and the trip was a nightmare for Evans. He had no rabbit skins to protect the vulnerable groin area of his dogs, and two of them began to freeze, even as they ran. Loading the crippled huskies onto his sled, Evans continued on. He ran in front of the sled, pulling on the traces, trying to help his seven remaining dogs. Five hours after leaving Bishop Mountain he reached Nulato. It was four o’clock in the morning and all he could manage was to carry his sick dogs into the cabin and collapse by the stove. Recalling the event some fifty years later, Charlie Evans said, “It was real cold.”
Tommy Patsy loaded the serum from Evans’ sled onto his own and sped off into the darkness toward Kaltag, 36-miles distant. Urging his team on at 58 degrees below zero, it took him three and a half hours to cover the distance. He got there Friday noon, January 30th. In less than three days, 13 dog teams had covered 377-miles. They were a little over halfway to Nome.
At Kaltag, the trail left the Yukon River and headed over the mountains to the coast. In the mountains, the weather grew worse. The Athabascan River pilot Jackscrew took the serum at Kaltag and cursed his way through a blinding snowstorm at fifty below zero to Old Woman shelter cabin, forty miles away. There he was met by Eskimo Victor Anagick who took off in blowing, drifting snow toward Unalakleet, 34-miles away on Norton Sound.
At Unalakleet, another Eskimo, Myles Gonangnan, was waiting, and set off in his turn with the serum for Shaktoolik. He had to break trail for his eight-dog team through waist-high drifts for the entire forty miles. They were traveling in one of the worst snowstorms in memory. He made it in just under 12 hours and fell exhausted and frostbitten, but with the serum safe for the next sled.
Harry Ivanoff then started for Golovin. Half a mile along to the trail the team picked up the scent of reindeer, and bedlam broke loose. Fighting to straighten out his dogs, Ivanoff looked up to see Leonhard Seppala and his team of racing Siberians, the only such dogs in the relay, hustling down the trail.
Apparently the blizzard had interfered with communications and Nome thought there was no relay team available at Shaktoolik. So Seppala had driven the team a good 150-miles, from Nome, to meet the precious package. Ivanoff gave him the serum, and Seppala, turning back, chose the straight route across Norton Sound, a route traditionally avoided by dog drivers. The high winds were pushing sea water up over the ice, which promised to break up at any moment and drift out into the Bering Sea, Seppala, serum and all. But Seppala’s confidence in his proven fast dogs and his successful crossing of the creaking ice once that day stimulated his belief that he had a reasonable chance, with luck, to make it back across to Golovin and save hours, perhaps days.
In warming temperatures that made the ice more dangerous, Seppala sped off for Golovin, 91-miles west by the route across the Sound. The little Norwegian and his lead dog Togo, made 84-miles that day. Twenty of those miles were across the heaving, sloshing, breaking sea ice. But Togo, the hero of many a sport sled dog race and veteran of many a trail, knew the dangers. He also had the uncanny ability to begin carrying out Seppala’s wishes even before Seppala gave a command. Togo led the fragile train of dogs, sled and driver as quickly as he could across the massive array of jagged, groaning ice floes. They reached Isaacs Point, on the other side, late Saturday night. There Seppala stopped to feed his team and tend to their raw, cut feet. Continuing on [the] next morning in the blizzard, he met Charlie Olson at Golovin in mid-afternoon. There was eighty miles left to go.
Tomorrow on the Dog Sledding Examiner: The Serum Run Part 3
Dog Sledding Legend Jean Bryar on Mushing Radio
On the popular Mush! You Huskies Radio Show we are continuing our summer series on the dog sledding legends and those people that made this sport what it is today. This week we will profile one of the greatest women mushers during the 1960’s and 70’s which so many great mushers followed her lead such as Libby Riddles, Susan Butcher and Dee Dee Jonrowe just to name a few.
In the coming weeks we have a very special series airing on the show. We are in the initial talks with a true sled dog historian, Nancy Cowan and she will be joining us for a couple of shows to talk about ‘Doc’ Lombard and others that influenced this sport and made it what it is today.
Listen to Mush You Huskies: Jean Bryar
Jean Bryar became the foremost woman sled dog driver in the world during the sixties and seventies. Although her husband, Keith, is remembered as the third factor in the Lombard-Belford-Bryar hegemony, Jean was no backseat member of the Bryar team. She worked her way through the New England racing circuit, usually finishing near the top against some of the toughest competition New England has ever had. Having developed one of the best Siberian Husky racing teams in the Northeast, the Bryar’s made the big jump to Alaska with the other New England competitors in the early sixties. They, too, were entranced by the abilities of the Alaskan dogs, and in 1962 they bought a superb example of this racing husky, a leader named Brandy. They paid $1001.00 for him.
During the next four seasons Keith and Jean both drove Brandy at the head of the team that won several of the most important sled dog races in North America. In 1963 they captured the Eastern International at Quebec, the World Championship at Laconia and the Women’s North American Championship at Fairbanks. In Alaska in 1962, 1963 and 1964, Jean paralleled “Doc” Lombard’s wins in the men’s North American with wins of her own in the women’s.
Following Keith Bryar’s successful bid for the Men’s North American Championship in 1965 and his subsequent retirement from racing, Jean Bryar maintained the Norvik Kennels in Center Harbor, New Hampshire and expanded her racing schedule. Coordinating her training and racing talents with those of another champion driver and dog musher, Dick Moulton, Jean went on to secure her own reputation in the sporting world, selecting only the most challenging professional races for their teams. Bryar and Moulton left well-defined tracks wherever they competed.
Bryar had the determination and flexibility of an all-time great sled dog driver. In her first try at the North American, for example, Bryar’s lead dog was of a breed never before known to qualify for such a position, a small longhaired Border Collie. She tended to pamper her dogs a little more than some of her colleague’s thought was necessary, but her achievement as a racer and trainer justified her techniques. Energetic and personable, Bryar was completely dedicated to her dogs. During the off-season she managed her kennel and worked as a real estate agent. When the cool mornings of fall arrived it was back to the business of training puppies and stretching the veteran’s muscles for a new racing season, leaving her work as a realtor to the warmer weather.
Quest For the South Pole
Discovered in 1840, Antarctica lies almost concentrically about the South Pole. Fittingly enough its name means “opposite to the arctic”, and this fifth largest continent would be essentially circular except for the Antarctica Peninsula. It was here, in this unforgiving environment that two different men chose two different paths, and two different aides in their quests to reach the South Pole. Both made it to their destinations, only one however made it back. There is not any doubt that the difference was the dogs, or lack thereof.
Robert F. Scott (1868-1912) was a British explorer who made several attempts to reach the South Pole. From their base camp on Ross Island, Scott, accompanied by Earnest Henry Shackleton (1874-1922), and E.A. Wilson penetrated as close as 82º 17’ S. to the pole at the Ross Ice Shelf on December 30, 1902. Scott believed that the use of sled dogs was somehow disreputable. “No journey made with dogs,” Captain Scott wrote, “can approach the height of that fine conception which is realized when a party of men go forth to face hardships, dangers, and difficulties by their own unaided efforts.”
Later, Shackleton and another party of five men reached 88º 23’ S. on January 9, 1909, a point a mere 97-miles from the pole. “The successful experimental use of hardy Manchurian ponies, and the pioneering of a route up the great Beardmore Glacier to the polar plateau by Shackleton, paved the way for the epic trip of Scott in 1911-12 to the South Pole.”
The second participant in the epic race was Roald Amundsen (1872-1928). Amundsen was the Norwegian explorer that ultimately discovered the South Pole, but just as with Peary on the other side of the world, his triumph came with a price.
Amundsen began his history-making journey by first studying medicine. In 1897, he joined a Belgian Antarctica expedition as a mate, and was assigned to the “Belgica”. The “Belgica”, under the command of Captain Adrien de Gerlache, became trapped in the pack ice in March of 1898. The ship drifted with the ice of the Bellingshausen Sea until the following March; proving conclusively that one could winter the Antarctic.
It is noteworthy to mention that Amundsen was accompanied to Antarctica by the American physician-explorer F.A. Cook. Amundsen and Cook were largely responsible for bringing the “Belgica’s” crew through severe attacks of scurvy.
A few years later Amundsen made plans to conquer the Northwest Passage. With a crew of only six he sailed secretly on the “Gjöa”, a forty seven-ton sloop, in order to avoid creditors. He was the first man to take a ship through the fabled passage. He then began to focus his attention on accomplishing spectacular polar achievements.
Amundsen planned to drift across the North Pole in a ship called the “Fram”. This plan was secretly altered when the news that Robert E. Peary had reached the North Pole assaulted the wires. He continued his preparations and in June of 1910 Amundsen left Norway; no one save his brother knew that he sailed for the South Pole instead of the already conquered North Pole. Amundsen sailed to the Ross Sea and set up a base camp some sixty-miles closer to the pole than his adversary Captain Scott. As a matter of personal, and nationalistic pride it was vital to him that he reach the pole first.
Unlike Scott’s party who chose to rely primarily on horses and the Beardmore Glacier route, Amundsen and his party chose to travel with sledges pulled by dogs and to take the Axel Heiberg Glacier route. He reached the South Pole on December 14, 1911, beating Captain Scott by thirty-four days. Appley Cherry-Garrard was a member of Scott’s previous excursions, he described the vast differences between the canines’ and ponies’ ability to adapt to the polar environment in the following account:
“The animals suffer the most, and during the this first blizzard all our ponies were weakened, and two of them became practically useless…Nothing was left undone for them which we could manage, but necessarily the Antarctic is a grim place for ponies. I think Scott felt the sufferings of the ponies more than the animals themselves. It was different with the dogs. These fairly warm blizzards were only a rest for them. Snugly curled up in [a] hole in the snow they allowed themselves to be drifted over. Bieleglas and Vaida, two half-brothers who pulled side by side, always insisted upon sharing one hole, and for greater warmth one would lie on top of the other. At intervals of two hours or so they fraternally changed places.”
Amundsen’s team arrived safely back at Franheim Station at the Bay of Whales with very little difficulty. On January 17, 1912, seventy-eight days after leaving camp, Captain Scott’s final assault team achieved the South Pole. The despair of coming so far just to find the Norwegian flag must have been nearly overwhelming. Their return trek was aggravatingly slow as men succumbed to the environment. Scott’s party was caught in a blizzard on the Ross Ice Shelf. There they pitched their tents, and their food and fuel dwindled, then finally ran out. Only eleven-miles from their One Ton Camp, Scott and his companions perished.
LEARN FROM A DOG
The following story is widely circulated on the Internet. I have no idea who wrote it and I hope the author does not mind if I take the liberty to use it here in this post.
A Dog’s Purpose, from a 4-year-old…Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his wife, Lisa, and their little boy, Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.
I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn’t do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.
As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for four-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.
The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker’s family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away. The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty or confusion.
We sat together for a while after Belker’s death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives. Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, “I know why.”
Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I’d never heard a more comforting explanation.
He said, “People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life, like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?”
The four-year-old continued, “Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”
Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.
(Robert Forto) I received this story from a colleague the other day and thought I had to share it. While I will always give credit where credit is due, I do not know who wrote this article so I am posting it anonymously. If you do know who wrote it please have them contact me directly at email@example.com.
I struggle with this the context of the story every day. My old dog and my best friend is a 12 year old Siberian Husky named Ineka. It is supposed to mean “rescued friend” in a Northern Canadian language. Anyhow, Ineka has been through thick and thin with not only me, but my family, since we adopted him from a Washington shelter in 2000. They told us he was four at the time but I checked the wear patterns on his teeth and he was closer to two.
I have talked about Ineka a lot over the years in my articles, in my blog posts, and in my canine trainers classes at Denver Dog Works. I even dedicated my doctorate dissertation to him- Chasing the Dream: The History of Human-Canine Communication in the Sport of Dog Sledding (Forto 2005).
I will be sad when his time comes to pass over the rainbow bridge. Who am I kidding, it will devastate me for a long while. But I will pull through and his legacy and what he taught me will live on. As the young boy says in the story, dogs already know how to live the good life, like loving everybody all the time so they don’t have to stay long.
Ineka, well all dogs for that matter, share a special place in most people’s hearts don’t they? They are just the right fix when something is wrong, just the right size to hug when you are feeling blue, listen just long enough when you have a secret, have just enough energy to finish that hike, just enough strength to pull you through the day, just enough courage to keep you motivated, just enough tail wags to make you smile, just enough wisdom to teach the new pup the rules, and just enough love to keep you sane in the worst of time.
So I encourage all of you to get out and do something with your dog today, everyday for the matter. Dogs were put on this earth to teach us something about ourselves. Is that a way to learn or what?
Update: As many of you know our dear friend, Ineka, passed over the Rainbow Bridge on July 13, 2010. I re-read this story from my blog and thought I should re-post it. I don’t know how most of you feel about the passing of a beloved pet, but it is one of the hardest things I have ever went through. It just seems different when a pet passes compared to a person. I do’nt know why. Maybe its because pets show us such unconditional love. Maybe its because we are allowed to make the decision when it is time for them to go. Maybe it is because they can not tell us its time or they hurt or they simply can not continue.
I have had many pets over the years. They were all special. But none quite like Ineka. He was my inspiration for everything I do with dogs and in the worst of times he was my strength. Some say, he was just a dog. Hardly, my friends, hardly–Ineka was my Dreamchaser.
Dr. Robert Forto is the training director of Denver Dog Works and the host of a weekly radio program, The Dog Doctor Radio Show. Dr. Forto can be reached through his website at http://www.denverdogworks.com/