Team and Trail
Long distance sled dog races, or just trips by dogteam... My goal with this blog is simply to help support the history, spirit, passion and love for dog teams and the trails they run.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Pioneering Breeder Eva "Short" Seeley

There's an interesting article by Matthew Schenker at the blog, The Dog Writer, detailing the life of pioneer Siberian Husky and Alaskan Malamute fancier Eva "Short" Seeley:
Among her numerous achievements, Ms. Seeley forever changed the look of Siberian Huskies, and she was directly responsible for AKC acceptance of the Alaskan Malamute. She owned the first champions in both these breeds, and she founded both national breed clubs. For decades, Seeley was an unofficial gatekeeper of the Siberian Husky and Alaskan Malamute, and her approval was essential for any breeder who wanted to be taken seriously.
Schenker relates the events surrounding the 1925 Great Serum Run, and how Eva Seeley and her husband, Milton, would have followed the tales of Leonhard Seppala and Togo, and Gunnar Kaasen and Balto, as they delivered the serum to halt the diphtheria epidemic. He writes:
Interviewed for a February 3, 1925, New York Times article, Kaasen described how a blizzard made it impossible for him to see either the trail or his dogs. “A gale was blowing from the northwest. I gave Balto, my lead dog, his head and trusted him. He never once faltered. Balto knew the way we were going.” The circuit of racers and dogs completed their historic run in just five days. Normally, this distance took three weeks for sleds carrying mail or supplies into Alaskan mining towns. On February 6, 1925, Senator Clarence Dill of Washington State led the United States Senate in entering the extraordinary facts of the Serum Run into the Congressional record. In his speech, Dill contrasted the Serum run with all previous races, stating, “Men had thought that the limit of speed and endurance had been reached, but a race for sport and money proved to have far less stimulus than this contest in which humanity was the urge and life was the prize.”
Schenker's article outlines an important part of Alaskan Malemute and Siberian Husky history, from how the Seeleys acquired Toto, the daughter of Seppala’s famous lead dog Togo, and how Toto helped form the foundation of Seeley’s Siberian Husky line; to how, in 1935, the AKC officially recognized the Alaskan Malamute, primarily through Seeley’s efforts.
Eva Seeley came of age in a day when Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes existed in relative obscurity, and she was one of the few who believed that these dogs could excel not only at sledding matches but also at dog shows and in people’s homes. Through absolute love and tireless dedication, Seeley saw Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes become recognized and loved throughout the country.

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