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Seppala Siberian Sleddog Breed Standard, 1995

General Considerations:
The Seppala Siberian Sleddog is a working breed; it exists for the purpose of pulling a dogsled in cold country. Its characteristics are determined by the nature of its work and by its working environment. It originated from an amalgam of tribal dogs from several different regions of the vast land of Siberia, owing its vigour and hardiness to the harsh environmental and cultural selection to which its forebears were submitted, and to the genetic variety of the regional strains that contributed to its makeup. It was developed by the breeding of Leonhard Seppala in Alaska and Maine during the period 1914 through 1930. It is an exceptional general purpose arctic sleddog capable of serving a variety of purposes, such as freighting, rapid long-distance dogsled transport, sleddog racing (whether long-distance, middle distance, or short-distance), passenger touring, recreational dogsledding, skijoring and dog packing. It should be capable of demonstrating endurance, speed, strength and versatility in its work.

Consequently a natural range and variety of characteristics exist and such variability is not to be discouraged. Since the breed is defined primarily by its purpose, no single narrowly-defined breed type can be specified or preferred. Individual excellence is with reference to that purpose, not to ideals of breed type or cosmetic beauty of colour and markings. Although the breed naturally produces many animals of striking type and beauty, these qualities should not be made the goal of selective breeding. In physical conformation, form should follow function. A natural range of somatotypes exists. If a dog’s working performance is consistently superior, it may be assumed that his physical structure is suitable; never the reverse.

Metabolic efficiency, good eating and drinking, hardiness in the face of climatic extremes (particularly those of arctic and subarctic environments), fertility, fecundity, natural whelpings, viability of offspring, and general good health and longevity are also characteristics greatly desired in this breed.

Performance in Harness:
Although the capabilities of individual dogs will vary according to size, physique, mentality and conditioning, high ideals of performance must be consistently maintained. Breeding Seppalas without proving both breeding stock and progeny in harness will undermine the breed purpose and dissipate essential working traits.

The Seppala dog should be capable of speeds of 18 to 20 miles an hour for short distances. He should be able to pull loads averaging 100 pounds per dog over distances of 30 to 50 miles in a day even in poor conditions without quitting. Unloaded in middle-distance racing he should be capable of average speeds of 12 to 17 miles per hour over daily heat distances of 40 to 60 miles, depending on team size, terrain and conditions. In a long-distance racing context, the ideal expected performance might be average speeds (including resting time) of from 5 miles per hour over a 400 mile course to 3.5 or 4 miles per hour for 1000 miles.

The Seppala Siberian Sleddog is a medium-sized canine. Although he can be a capable freighting dog, that does not justify breeding for great size.

The average height at the withers of mature males is 23 inches, with a normal range of from 21 to 25 inches; exceptionally an individual may be as tall as 27 inches. The average weight of a mature male in lean working condition is around 52 pounds, with a normal range of from 38 to 65 pounds.

The average height at withers of a mature female is 21 inches, with a normal range of 19 to 23 inches. The average weight of a mature female in lean working condition is about 42 pounds, with a normal range of from 30 to 55 pounds. Weight should be in proportion to height. It must be borne in mind that excess weight hampers the dog in the performance of his work.

Physical Proportions and Body:
Balance and proportion of parts should be considered of great importance as affecting the efficiency, coordination and agility of the dog. Viewed from the side, his body should appear longer than it is high; a “square” profile, although allowable in individuals is not desired. There is a natural range of proportion from moderately compact to somewhat rangy. A dog that is too short-coupled for his height will be unable to move forward without “crabbing” to prevent his limbs interfering with one another; this is highly undesirable. Many good dogs look “high in the rear” when standing; this is acceptable provided the dog shows no evidence of having a weak back.

The body should be quite solid in appearance with chest deep (but not to extremes — it should never extend below the elbow) and ribs well-sprung but flattened at the sides. The forechest must not appear hollow. Loins should be well-muscled though markedly narrower than the thorax, and should show a slight arch. Although the dog may be compact, he must never be cobby or very short-coupled. A rather long back is characteristic and allows for an effortless working lope. The croup slopes downward somewhat from hipbones to tailset.

The hindquarters should convey an impression of substance and muscle mass equal to the front, which should not be overly broad of brisket nor coarse in bone structure, nor yet too narrow. Front and rear angulation must be balanced and strongly defined, with stifles well-bent, shoulders and upper arms well laid back.
Legs and Feet:
The legs should be straight and well muscled with strong but not heavy bone. Forelegs should be set well under the dog with good layback both of scapula and humerus; the pasterns should show some slope but without weakness. Hind limbs should be well-angulated but always in proportion to the fore end. Unbalanced extremes of rear angulation are undesirable. Most good dogs stand with a slight “toe-out” in front. Some good dogs may turn their hocks slightly inward, but definite cow-hocks are undesirable.

Feet should be oval in shape, on the large side, well knuckled-up, with tough well-cushioned pads. Small, round cat-feet are highly undesirable. As the foot serves the dog as a snowshoe, some spread is tolerated, but splay feet are undesirable.

Both front and rear dewclaws should be removed at birth as they are vulnerable to abrasion and injury in crusted snow conditions and serve no practical purpose.

Head, Eyes, Ears and Neck:
Excessive emphasis should not be placed on the head, it being of much less importance than the dog’s running gear. It is typically of medium size in proportion to the body, medium in width, the muzzle about equal in length to the distance from stop to occiput. The face has a well-chiselled appearance; the muzzle, though strong, should never appear deep and heavy, nor long and thin. The nose should be black (it may be flesh-coloured in white animals). The lips should be close-fitting. Incisors should meet in a scissors bite; slight degrees of overshot or undershot bite can be tolerated but extremes ought not to be used for breeding.

The eyes are set slightly obliquely in the head and tend to be almond-shaped in outline, preferably with black-rimmed eyelids. Eyes should neither bulge outward nor seem small and “piggy”. The spacing between the eyes should be moderate, never close-set. Eyes vary from very dark brown to amber, blue, or heterochromic. The dog’s expression is keen, alert and interested; the eyes should have a friendly look.

Ears are well-furred, set high on the head, moderately pointed at the tip and erect. There is some variation in ear shape and length. Seppala ears are taller than those of other arctic breeds. An occasional animal may have an ear or ears that are not completely erect; this is permitted but not desirable, as the normal ear is strongly erect.

The neck should not be too short or thick; it should be arched and medium in length.

Coat and Tail:
The coat should be thick and soft in texture with a very dense weather-resistant undercoat nearly as long as the straight guard hairs, giving a smooth outline and good protection to the dog in any weather conditions. The length of coat varies naturally from medium to moderately long. Very short “houndy” coats are sometimes seen; though favoured by sprint racers in warm climates for their superior heat dissipation, they should properly be discouraged as they render the dog vulnerable in extremely cold conditions. Long coats have always existed in the breed; many dogs in Siberia show extremely long coats. Hence the longer coat is tolerated though not desirable. A shaggy appearance must be discouraged. The coat must never be harsh or wiry in texture.

The tail is a well-furred brush carried in a sickle curve over the back when the dog is at attention. While pulling it is usually held stiff and low. It should not be tightly curled and never “snapped” flat to the back or down the side. It should be fairly long, typically reaching down to the hocks. It must not be set too high and should appear as a natural extension of the back and croup line.

Colour and Markings:
Colour varies from nearly all-black to pure white with many distinctive shades of grey, fawn, sable, reddish-brown and banded wolf colourings. Colour is relatively unimportant, except to note that black-coated dogs may suffer considerably from the heat in the strong summer sunlight of the far north, whereas white-coated dogs are much more resistant. (The liver-nosed red or “copper” colour found in other arctic breeds is absent in Seppalas; should it appear it may be a sign of crossbreeding. In any event it is regarded as highly undesirable as it represents a metabolic inability to produce normal black pigment and has been linked with poor working performance.) Seppala reds, called sables, typically show black tipping to the guard hairs with black lips, noses and eyerims.

A wide variety of distinctive markings exists. Asymmetry of markings carries no penalty and symmetry of markings no premium. Piebald spotting and white body markings (“splash coat”) are common and acceptable. The “saddleback” pattern, in which black pigment on the head and limbs fades out in late puppyhood leaving a body pattern of dark hairs similar in shape to an English riding saddle, is strongly characteristic of many Seppalas. Markings must not be made the object of selective breeding.

A very smooth and efficient working lope is a strong point of the breed; similarly, the trot is also very free and floating. The trot, out of harness, should show great ease and smoothness, with good reach but not overreaching. A choppy or bouncy trot is undesirable. The dog’s working lope should show power and forward drive; a bouncy, up-and-down lope is inefficient. Good rear end flexibility and full coordination of fore and hindquarters in action are essential. At all gaits the dog should move straight and true, never crabbing or kicking out to the side. The gait should never appear in any way clumsy.

Temperament and Mentality:
The disposition of the Seppala Siberian Sleddog is active, merry and often quite inquisitive though sometimes showing great reserve with strangers. He is always gentle, tractable and docile; no tendency towards viciousness should ever be tolerated by the breeder. His desire to co-operate with his driver is noteworthy and his trainability is outstanding.

Stable and serious temperament is characteristic; desirable specimens are neither nervous nor aggressive.
Natural, innate sleddog ability is a primary characteristic of the Seppala dog. A majority of pups show a marked disposition to pull in harness at their first introduction to work, which may begin around 3 1/2 to 5 months of age; at this age many Seppala pups begin pulling immediately with little or no tendency to tangle their lines or to run without pulling. The best adult dogs display a high degree of determination and tenacity in their work and will keep going under very bad conditions, sometimes even in spite of injury or illness. A steady and serious working attitude is important and should be a prime breeding objective; dogs that “slackline” (go along in the team without pulling), shirk, or that tend to quit in harness despite adequate conditioning should not be used for breeding. Seppala Sleddogs should display courage in the face of hazards and obstacles encountered on the trail without being foolhardy; awareness of danger without fearfulness is the ideal.

Unlike some arctic breeds, Seppalas bond strongly to their owners and display a high degree of affection for them; this forms the basis for an outstanding working unit of driver and team in difficult situations. His co-operative, intelligent and loving nature makes the Seppala dog a very enjoyable choice for recreational dogsledding.

Summary and Epilogue:
The breed foundation was based on Siberia import dogs, originally circa 1910 in Alaska, in 1939 when it was first registered in Canada as the C.K.C. Siberian Huskie and in the 1990s in the Yukon when new import stock was added to the inbred “Seppala Strain” registered Siberian to develop a distinct breed faithful to original import attributes, separate and distinct from the “Siberian Husky” bred for dog shows. The breed should always remain closely connected to its Siberian geographical origins; ideally, additional Siberia import stock should continue to contribute to the gene pool, ensuring that it is refreshed with hardy, primitive stock at regular intervals.

Of paramount importance is correct working mentality. A positive attitude on the part of the dog towards his work of pulling in harness is essential; he should be a natural, born sleddog; he must be intelligent, amenable to serious training and discipline and not quarrelsome with other dogs. Other important breed characteristics are balance and proportion of physical parts, good feet, flexibility and freedom of movement, an easy and efficient gait, and good strength for pulling power in harness. When breeding decisions are made, utility and functionality should always prevail; the Seppala dog was never intended to be a show dog, hence the ideals of the exhibition ring, particularly mere cosmetic factors, are totally out of consideration in this breed.

Defining the True Seppala Bloodline

THE 1976 BOOK, The Seppala Siberian: A Breeder’s Manual, contained the simplest basic definition of Seppala strain:

Seppala Siberian: Any registered Siberian Husky whose pedigree lineage may be traced back exclusively to foundation stock bred by Leonhard Seppala or imported directly from Siberia.
This definition still holds good today, unchanged really since the 1940s when the distinction first began to be made between “Seppala Siberians” and other Siberian Huskies. It remains the one infallible touchstone to distinguish the true Seppala. However, the “registered Siberian Husky” reference is rapidly becoming obsolete now as Seppalas take on their true identity as a separate breed.
Attempts to re-define Seppala strain occurred in two books published in 1986 and 1992 by Douglas W. Willett, replacing the original definition to favour the Willett practice of cross-straining Seppalas with a wide variety of other stock, mostly but not all from mainstream Siberian Husky bloodlines. The re-definition involved an arbitrary “founders list” (which failed to include all known founders contributory to the strain), joined to a “percentage system” that attempted to quantify the actual proportion of Seppala ancestry in a given dog. The Willett percentage system has undergone continual change since its inception, according to the evolution of the Racing Siberian Husky based breeding programme carried out by Willett and his “satellite kennels.”

Large numbers of animals bred and sold under the Willett percentage system have tended to result in considerable confusion in the minds of many regarding how “Seppala” may be defined, as well as whether this or that individual dog should or should not be considered a Seppala. The practice of calculating a Seppala percentage for any Siberian Husky out of racing bloodlines has pretty much obscured the true Seppala genetic identity in the popular mind.

Actually the correct name for the ISSSC/ConKC sleddog is “Racing Siberian Husky”; that is what it should be called to avoid total confusion and to respect the traditional definition of Seppala strain. Current ISSSC practice appears to consider virtually any racing Siberian bloodline, including the Seeley-based strains like Anadyr and Igloo Pak, as a “percentage Seppala.” The ISSSC website claims 500 Continental KC “Seppala” registrations in the two year period ending in summer 2004! (This number does not include AKC Siberians from the same bloodlines not registered with ConKC, nor does it include the SSSD Project Seppala Siberian Sleddogs.) It is unlikely that even one-quarter of that number would satisfy the original definition given above.

There is really no need for confusion. Seppala ancestry is very easy to determine. Once a five or six-generation pedigree has been worked out for the dog in question, anyone can quickly verify Seppala status (although some lines may have to be extended another two or three generations). Every pedigree line should trace back either to one of the ten Markovo-period “Second Foundation” dogs, or to contemporary Siberia import stock such as the Sergei Solovyev dogs. The ten names to look for are as follows:

No other pure Seppalas of the post-McFaul period engendered pure-strain bloodlines that survive today! (Other Seppalas were bred but only cross-strain lines survive today from any dogs other than the ten named above.) If every pedigree line not derived from contemporary stock from Siberia is closed by one of these names, no matter in what generation, then the pedigree is a Seppala pedigree, because all of these founders in turn trace their pedigrees back to the McFaul/Shearer Seppala mainstream.
December 2007 Update: Owners of “percentage-seppala” stock are advised that I.S.A. is not currently approving applications for exceptional acceptance of percentage stock no matter how high the claimed percentage. For a time we had hoped there might be a way to steer a middle way, accepting a few exceptional individuals from high-percentage Seppala bloodlines. As the situation has developed over the past two years, however, it has become less desirable for us to maintain an exceptions policy. There are basically three reasons for this position:
(1) Claimed percentages have been found to be consistently much higher than the actual McFaul/Shearer bloodline content, causing arguments about the actual percentage when analysis is carried out. ISSSC policy from the outset has been to exaggerate Seppala percentages, claiming “100% Seppala” status for many individuals whose actual McFaul/Shearer content may range from 88 to 95 percent, and claiming 75-80% Seppala content for mainstream racing Siberian bloodlines that were never eligible for inclusion in the SSSD Project. This in turn has led many owners to believe their dogs to be genuine Seppalas when such is not the case, at least in Project terms.

(2) Serious questions have arisen concerning pedigree reliability in more than one widely-distributed bloodline, cases in which DNA analysis has disproved the claimed pedigree. Thus we are reluctant to accept stock whose pedigrees are unsupported by WCAC/ISA photographic proof of matings. Percentage Seppala calculations and pedigree analysis have no meaning or usefulness when the pedigree itself cannot be relied upon to reflect actual parentage and ancestry.

(3) Pure-strain Markovo-Seppala stock has become extremely scarce, while “percentage” strains linebred on individual animals unacceptable to the Project has become widely prevalent. It is feared that if percentage applications are allowed at this time, under these circumstances, core Project bloodlines might be swamped by exception and grade applications.

For these reasons it is felt by the Board that in order to safeguard core bloodlines and to avoid arguments with applicants, it is prudent not to allow such applications for the time being. The safety of this decision is backed up by the quality of animals currently produced by the Solovyev/Seppala matings in Project stock, together with the addition of less-related SSSD stock from the Cal Segu bloodline. Since Project ideals are becoming abundantly fulfilled by the current core breeding programme, we see no need to complicate matters by adding RSH bloodlines with no clear end in view.
(A more detailed discussion of Seppala definitions can be found on the SSSD Project Website’s “Seppala Definitions” Page.)

Leonhard Seppala, All-Time Great of Alaskan Dog Drivers

LEONHARD SEPPALA WAS BORN in Skibotn, Lygenfjørd, Norway — 600 miles north of the Arctic Circle — the 14th September in the year 1877. His family moved to the village of Skjervøy two years after his birth. His father was both a blacksmith and a fisherman. As a child Leonhard did farm work, keeping the family homestead going while his father was away on the fishing grounds. He began to go in his father’s fishing boat the “Leviathan” at the age of twelve, and also apprenticed in his father’s smithy. It was a demanding and rugged life for a child; “Sepp” (as many later called him) grew up tough and self-reliant. Each year until 1897 he went to the Finnmark fishing grounds. At the age of twenty he went to the city of Kristiana (now called Oslo), where he worked at the smithies there until he completed his “masterpiece” in December 1898, the project (a hand-forged vise) that would demonstrate his competence at the trade and allow him to work as a Master blacksmith. After the death of his childhood sweetheart Margit, whom he had planned to marry, Sepp returned to Skjervøy to work in his father’s smithy.

THE GOLD STRIKES IN ALASKA and the Yukon were the talk of Norway around 1899. Seppala’s friend Jafet Lindeberg returned home from Alaska flush with gold dollars and encouraged Sepp to take ship for the gold fields, even offering to lend him money for his passage. In 1900 Sepp succumbed to the lure of gold; on the 14th June he arrived on the S.S. Ohio in the city of Nome, where Lindeberg had his Pioneer Mining Company. He then had to learn mining from the ground up, starting out driving horses and a wagon (which he had never done), filling a slip scraper to clear the sluice boxes, and shoveling gravel on Discovery Claim at Anvil Creek. The Scandinavian miners, including Sepp’s employer, had constant problems with claim-jumpers and shyster lawyers, all of whom were determined to do the foreigners out of their claims and take them over. Lindeberg was a leading figure in the immigrant miners’ fight for their rights, and Sepp, as a Pioneer employee, was involved in a number of hair-raising adventures in defense of Pioneer claims against claim-jumpers.

Eventually Sepp got his chance to go prospecting for the company. He writes:

“One day Lindeberg came to me and asked me if I would go on a prospecting trip. The pay was ten dollars a day. I accepted readiy, glad to escape the steady grind with the shovel. I was by far the smallest man in the gang, and it was hard to keep up with the big, raw-boned Irish and Scandinavians, with many of whom shoveling was a profession.”
This first trip up the Nome River into Gold and Slate Creeks was with a party of eight men and eleven horses. When the rain started in September, they went back to Nome, and Sepp resumed shovelling, which caused him considerable suffering and hardship. He writes:
“With the approach of evening I thought of the little shop in Norway and regretted that I had listened to the golden-tongued orators who had persuaded me to come to Alaska. But I had only myself to blame. I wanted adventure, and I was getting it. [ . . . ] Life in Norway never seemed so sweet as when I toiled away the dark rainy nights shoveling [ . . . ] we at least had ground under our feet, and not hundreds of fathoms of roaring Arctic Ocean.”
The following December word came of a strike made up in the Kougarok. Lindeberg offered to send Sepp as part of a party to stake claims there. Sepp went along with his Swedish co-workers John, Andrew and Fred with two dog teams — the beginning of Sepp’s career with sleddogs. Sepp’s first two sleddogs, Jack and Nigger, 110 and 120-pound black mongrels, came from this group. He describes these two as “splendid animals,” saying that they “pulled loads that would have staggered ordinary dogs.”
SEPP WAS A VERY SMALL MAN, short in stature and light in physique, but quite athletic. He had learnt to wrestle as a boy, virtually as a matter of self-defense. Although he found the heavy labour of Nome mining gruelling with its endless mounds of gravel to be shoveled, he was very fit. Of course, Norwegians of the far north are almost born on skis. He writes:

“During the daytime I did a lot of skiing. Skiing was becoming the one sport of the day, and there were races and jumping contests patterned on those in Norway. I had skied all my life, and had little trouble competing against the novices. In those days the skiing held the importance later usurped by the dog racing; it absorbed the interest of the public, increased the skill of the beginners, and eventually attracted experts from all over Alaska.”
Sepp actually beat a recently-arrived ski-jumping champion from Norway, to the consternation of his rival, and was also a keen competitor in the races. He tells the tale, too, of being asked to fill in at a wrestling match for a competitor who had “given out,” only to discover himself matched against a man who outweighed him by thirty pounds or more. Unfamiliar with the wrestling holds used locally, Sepp was apprehensive, tested his opponent out and found him on the slow and clumsy side, then when he was rushed, saw his opening and threw his opponent to the floor and pinned him. When the referee parted them, it was discovered Sepp’s opponent had sustained three broken ribs. Sepp wrote: “It was an unlucky throw, and I was as surprised as he at what I had done, and exceedingly sorry that I had been so violent.”
WHILE SEPPALA WAS IN ALASKA the sport of dogsled racing was developed as a winter recreation; in 1908 the first All-Alaska Sweepstakes race was run. The following year a team of ten sleddogs was brought to Nome from eastern Siberia by a Russian fur trader. They were laughed at and given 100-to-1 odds due to their size, which was only half that of typical Alaskan sleddogs of the day, yet they almost won an upset victory at the second Nome Sweepstakes race in 1909. (It was widely rumoured that the team had been interfered with or the driver bribed by gamblings interests; at such odds, had the team won the race it would have broken the Bank of Nome.) The following summer a shipload of seventy Siberian dogs bought at the Siberian trading village of Markovo on the Anadyr River were imported by a wealthy young Scot, Charles ‘Fox’ Maule Ramsay, second son of the Earl of Dalhousie. The Ramsay import dogs, from which three racing teams were fielded, dominated the 1910 third All-Alaska Sweepstakes, placing first, second and fourth. The same year the AAS was first run, 1908, Seppala married his wife Constance, a Belgian girl who had come to Nome in 1905.

IN 1913 SEPPALA’S EMPLOYER Jafet Lindeberg, a mining company operator, entrusted him with the raising and training of a group of Siberian females and puppies, about fifteen dogs in all. ‘Sepp’ entered the 1914 Sweepstakes with this team but failed to finish the race after getting caught in a blizzard and nearly going over a two-hundred-foot precipice along the Bering Sea coastline.
The following year Seppala’s Siberian team won the Nome Sweepstakes. Seppala dominated Alaska’s major race thereafter, winning consistently with his Siberian sleddogs until the race was discontinued during the First World War. Seppala continued to import, breed, and train Siberian sleddogs, becoming a legend in his own time. Those who raced unsuccessfully against him claimed he had hypnotic powers of control over his dogs, so unbelievable was the performance of the Siberian dog teams he drove.

Seppala had dogsled racing psychology down pat as well. In 1916 the Nome Kennel Club was challenged by the Ruby Kennel Club. The native drivers from the Yukon River had a reputation of being extremely tireless and possessing fast teams; none of the Nome mushers wanted to accept the challenge. Sepp decided to give it a try, but was appalled on his dogsled trip to Ruby when a native with a crosscut saw appeared out of nowhere and trotted easily alongside his sprinting team, keeping pace effortlessly. Once the race was under way, Sepp writes:

“I was told that the course lay over three high hills and that the Indian drivers ran like deer up the mountains on foot ahead of their teams. This did not sound very encouraging. [ . . . ] For a while I let the fast teams keep just ahead, and then I gradually gained on them, passing them one by one. I wanted to have a little fun, so I sat down in my sled, lit a big cigar, leaned back comfortably, and smoked away as if I were out for a pleasure jaunt. But what the men behind me did not know was that I was driving hard just the same, urging my dogs to greater effort as I sat there. I soon left the others behind, and succeeded in winning the race by fourteen minutes, thus establishing a new record.”
Later he overheard one of the drivers complaining, “He just sat in his sled smoking a cigar while his dogs walked away from us as fresh as though they had just started.” That evening, in a saloon with the other drivers, he was confronted by one of the gamblers who had lost money on the outcome of the Ruby race:
“I saw a small man about my own size. He looked me over from head to foot, then nodded his head up and down, saying to me: ‘So that is all there is to you — and still you got away with my twelve hundred dollars with those little plume-tail rats of yours! [ . . . ] I am a small man myself, but always admired big men and big dogs, and it has cost me twelve hundred dollars to learn that it is not always size that wins.'”
Seppala’s leaders for the Ruby race (before the “Togo” era) were Scotty and Jens, neither of them terribly big or tall dogs.
Elizabeth Ricker with Bonzo (ph)
Liz Ricker with
Leonhard Seppala leader Bonzo
IN 1925 THE CITY OF NOME was threatened by a midwinter diphtheria epidemic. Seppala became the crucial figure in the delivery by dogsled of a supply of antiserum via an otherwise impassable route between Nenana and the stricken city. Seppala set out from Nome, met the driver carrying the serum from Nenana more than halfway, and returned immediately by night across Norton Sound, traveling 340 miles over treacherous sea ice and through blizzard conditions to bring the serum back. (Other relay teams involved in the delivery included that of Gunnar Kaasen who made the final leg with cull dogs of Seppala’s that he had left behind; none of the other teams made more than 53 miles of travel at most.)

The leader of the Serum Drive team had been Togo, and Sepp was outraged at the publicity given to “newspaper dog” Balto who had led the Kaasen team, feeling that the credit had been stolen from Togo who had deserved to be considered the hero of the run. Also along on the Serum run was the ageing Scotty. Sepp states that the Serum Drive was Togo’s last long run, and that in that drive he had worked his hardest and best. If the Serum Drive finished Togo, it must have been harder yet for Seppala’s old Sweepstakes leader.

The following year, on the strength of publicity consequent to the Nome Serum Run, Seppala embarked on a tour of the ‘Lower 48’ with 44 dogs and an Inuit handler. His tour finished in the State of Maine in 1927 with a challenge race in Poland Spring against Arthur Walden, breeder of ‘Chinook’ dogs and author of A Dog-Puncher on the Yukon. Seppala won the race, and afterward started the first historic ‘Seppala Kennels’ in Poland Spring in partnership with a former driver of Chinooks, Mrs. Elizabeth Ricker.

SEPP AND LIZ RICKER were a feature on the eastern race circuit from 1927 through 1930. He won the New England race, the Lake Placid Race, and the Poland Spring event three years running. In 1929 he won the Eastern International Dog Derby in Quebec City, setting a new trail record for the three-day 123-mile event with “Bonzo” at single lead. (Victory at this race had eluded him the two previous years and he was determined to win it in 1929.) In many of these races Liz Ricker raced the second team and often came in right behind Seppala; in fact, she won the Poland Spring race in 1930, also with Bonzo at lead, again setting a new trail record for this three-day 75-mile event. Seppala’s worst competition during this entire period was the Quebec driver Emile St. Godard, who bested Seppala to win the Olympic Demonstration dogsled race at Lake Placid, NY, in 1932, which was Seppala’s last race in the East.

Seppala gave the ageing Togo to Liz Ricker so that his old leader could enjoy a pampered, comfortable retirement. Sepp wrote:

“It seemed best to leave him where he could be pensioned and enjoy a well-earned rest. But it was a sad parting on a cold gray March morning when Togo raised a small paw to my knee as if questioning why he was not going along with me. For the first time in twelve years I hit the trail without Togo.”
Liz Ricker divorced her husband Ted and relocated, along with Seppala, to Grey Rocks Inn in St. Jovite Station, Quebec. At the New Year festivities at the resort in 1931 she met Kaare Nansen, the son of Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen, and very shortly thereafter married him and left North America to sojourn in Norway with her new husband. It remains unclear just what happened (rumours say that Seppala ran up a hotel bill at the resort that he was unable to pay), but at some point around this time the core Poland Spring stock that had gone to Quebec became the property of Harry R. Wheeler, the owner of Grey Rocks Inn. Seppala apparently remained in St. Jovite through the winter of 1931-32 and competed with his Siberians for the last time at the Lake Placid Olympic demonstration race.

SEPPALA’S EXPLOITS and the Poland Spring kennel breeding gave a powerful boost to the early days of sleddog sport in New England. The infant Siberian Husky breed, established in the USA in 1930, could hardly have gone anywhere without the Poland Spring dogs and the sleddogs of Wheeler, Shearer and the Belfords that were bred from them.
The acquisition in 1931 by Harry R. Wheeler of the three Siberian imports Kree Vanka, Tserko and Volchok, together with other key Poland Spring stock, marked the founding of the second historic Seppala Kennels, which operated until 1950. The Wheeler dogs became the foundation of the Seppala Strain that was finally registered by the Canadian Kennel Club in Canada in 1939 as the ‘Siberian Huskie.’
Seppala’s direct involvement with the breed that now bears his name was over, but his Seppala sleddogs, descendants of original Siberian sleddogs from Chukotka, Kamschatka and the Kolyma River basin, had been placed by him on a path that would ultimately lead to the birth of the Seppala Siberian Sleddog breed in the 1990s.

Seppala had not abandoned his mining career with his tour of the U.S.A. After the tour was completed and his dogs safely settled in Poland Spring, he returned each spring to Alaska to continue his employment there, leaving the dogs in Liz Ricker’s care. After 1932 he remained in Alaska. He was based in Nome for the first twenty-nine years of his mining career, twenty-three of them spent with the Pioneer company. Subsequently he worked as a ranger for U.S. Mining and Melting Company, first in Nome and then in the Fairbanks gold fields until his departure from Alaska in 1946. He then bought a house near Seattle, where many other Norwegians had also settled. For some years in Seattle in his retirement he had a partnership arrangement with the Bow Lake Kennels of Earl L. Snodie, “specializing in purebred white blue-eyed Siberians,” as he wrote in 1947. In 1961 Sepp and his wife revisited Fairbanks and other places in Alaska at the invitation of American journalist Lowell Thomas, enjoying a warm reception from the Alaskan people. He lived in Seattle until his death on the 28th of January 1967 at the age of ninety. His wife Constance died a few years later aged eighty-five. Both are buried in Nome, Alaska.

The Story of Leonhard Seppala and Arthur T. Walden

Did they ever meet during the Gold Rush?
BOTH MEN were present for a time in Nome during the Alaskan Gold Rush. Seppala came from Norway to take up residence there in 1900, at the urging of his friend and subsequent employer, Jafet Lindeberg (one of the “Three Lucky Swedes” to strike the first $1,500-to-the-pan on Anvil Creek in 1898). Walden came to the Yukon and Alaska from New England, up from St. Michael to Nome with his team of dogs, by sail boat and on foot, in the summer of 1900, and lived there first with two men, Captain Major, a former sealer captain, and Jack Dustin, his former mate. That fall, after he and his propecting partner’s late season attempt to stake a claim near Grantley Harbor was flooded and washed away, he returned to Nome and took up residence in a sod cabin on the edge of the tundra, and said things went “rather hard” for him and everybody in town that winter. In his own telling of the time in his 1928 book, A Dog Puncher On The Yukon:

“The trips that I got in with my dogs just about paid expenses while they lasted, and most of them were only for a few days. But I was much farther ahead than the poor chaps who had no dogs and had no way of making any money whatever. The town took care of a great many of these people and gave them shoveling to do, but the saloon-men and gambers were the foremost in all charity work. There was a saying in this country, ‘If you ever want charity, ask it from the gamblers and the demi-monde.’
“When the winter was about half over, I had a call from a man who was commissioner at Point Blossom, north of Kotzebue Sound. he wanted to go over there prospecting, taking enough food to last till the middle of summer, when the boats would be coming in. I didn’t know this particular trip, and the three other drivers he engaged had never driven dogs until this winter and didn’t know much about rough work. My team was composed of six dogs in the old-fashioned Yukon hitch, tandem, with two sleds and a gee-pole. The other three teams used the old type of Alaskan basket sled, which is rather like the modern type used for traveling up there now, only longer. These latter sleds were twelve feet long and twenty-two inches wide.”
Walden began a return trip to Nome several weeks later to pick up food for the commissioner, but got snowed in at Topkok. He wrote he “spent the rest of the winter making trips to the outlying country.” One of these was with his partner Fred Fay and another man. At camp, they made a day trip to Nome for more rations, but when they finally got back to Nome later to stay, he said his own sod house was the first one they came to, planning to cook dinner there before the party dispuersed to their own homes. They found the place had been robbed, but luckily for the culprit, didn’t quite catch the man in the act. The friend of the commissioner’s who was supposed to have put up some money for food for him was “busted,” so Walden stayed put in Nome until April (1901), when he met a man that he said “shared the desire I had always had of going prospecting in the region bordering on the Arctic Circle.” Walden continues:

“The part we wanted to explore lay just south of the Circle and hear the east end of Kotsebue Sound. This country was just being explored. A few prospectors had run over it the summer before. It was a timberless, rolling tundra, and a terrible place for blizzards.
“We started and were gradually feeling our way along, not knowing exactly where we wanted to go, or where we should be, once we got there. The sledding was fairly good for the first hundred and fifty miles from Nome, but from there on we had a good deal of difficulty in crossing the rivers, which are small and troublesome in this section. Being practically busted, we had only a small outfit of two dogs apiece.
“We lived as we could, getting a good many ducks and geese, which had just begun to come in, so as to save our provisions. our general route led us at last to the headwaters of the Inmachuk Creek. Following this down we came to a natural hot spring, and, as the snow was giving out and the sledding had broken up, we decided to make it our headquarters. Here I remained for a year.”
Walden nearly froze to death on the tundra near the end of this journey, and later wrote; “My journey back to Nome soon after this was my last trip in Alaska with dogs. After coming in from the winter on the tundra I found Nome very dull.” A friend nursed him back to health, and Walden began to take on work again. This time, it was “surf-work”, ferrying passengers to and from vessels there in the Behring Sea in row boats. Soon thereafter, he left Nome for the “States” again, afterward writing, “Arriving in Seattle, everybody rushed to a furnishing store for a bran-new outfit from top to toe, and then rushed to the bath-house, where everything except memories was washed away.”

Seppala and Walden both began their dog driving careers with the big mixed-breed sleddogs that were characteristic of the Gold Rush era. Seppala’s first two sleddogs in Alaska were heavyweight mongrels named ‘Nigger’ and ‘Jack’, and one of Walden’s leaders during his time in Nome was named ‘Ribbon,’ described by Walden this way:

“This leader of mine was the first dog I had bought on the Yukon. He had come up from Norton Sound on the steamboat, a little while before, so this type of country was really like home to him. He was a large black malamute, of the old-fashioned type, and I had used him more as a leader than any other one dog. He had never gone back on me in any way.”
During his journey south of the Circle, his only dog left was named ‘Chinook’, his strongest dog, yet not a leader. He had to destroy ‘Ribbon’ due to the madness he contracted the season before.
Neither Seppala nor Walden later mentioned ever having met in Alaska, that the writer is aware, despite their simultaneous adventures in and around Nome. Seppala reported having first met Walden long after the Gold Rush, late in 1926, in Providence, Rhode Island; presumably where the challenge was issued to race his Siberians against Walden and his Chinooks. Walden had offered training quarters at his Wonalancet Farm then, in Tamworth NH, to Seppala and his dogs. After a short trip by rail from his final exhibit and promotional appearance (on his cross country tour) in New York City to Sandwich NH, January 1927, Seppala and Kingiak (a young Eskimo boy and reindeer driver hired by Seppala to accompany him across the country), hitched his Siberians in Sandwich and drove them at a relaxed pace (purposefully) the remaining way to Walden’s farm in Wonalancet. He was pleased that Walden had room for all his dogs in a large barn at Wonalancet Farm. Seppala soon became impatient, however, to learn how he might meet expenses for his dog feed and accommodations. Walden quickly interested Seppala in the race at Poland Spring Hotel in Maine, and set about gaining further financial sponsorship of the event by the Hotel to help with these expenses — since in these early New England Races, there were usually no race purses offered or wagers made, only trophies awarded.

The Wonalancet challenge weight pull
Arthur Walden and team going uphill
Walden shows off with his Chinook team
(Photo by J. D. Hunting, North Conway NH, courtesy Perry Greene Kennel Historical Collection)
During his stay at Wonalancet Farm in early 1927, Seppala challenged Walden that Togo (whose weight was then a mere 48 pounds in harness) could break out and pull any load that Chinook (100 pounds in fit condition) could pull. He offered this challenge only after hearing Walden brag of Chinook’s abilities in harness. Each man had observed the other’s dogs at work prior to the challenge and a bet for two cigars was made on the outcome. Seppala recounted, “Walden was a good sport and conceded that Togo had won the cigars for me.”

In his own words (from “Early Sled Dog Racing in Maine, A Frying Pan of Hot Meat Wrecked my Chances in the First Race” by Leonhard Seppala with Raymond Thompson), here’s Seppala’s amusing narrative of the historic pull:

“In any event, we finally left Wonalancet headed for Poland Spring, 90 miles away. The first day we crossed from New Hampshire into Maine and stopped for the night at Fryeburg. Walden, who had passed us with his team was waiting for us and had a good place arranged for to accommodate the dogs, my Eskimo, Kingiak, and myself. Also I learned that we were invited to speak at Fryeburg Academy, a school where once the great Daniel Webster had taught. By this time I had also learned that my competitor in the forthcoming race would be Arthur Walden. I already knew enough about him and his dogs to feel certain that I could win the Poland Spring race.
“The evening we were to speak at the Fryeburg Academy, Walden preceded me and proved to be a good speaker. When it came my turn, I spoke of the trails back in Alaska and explained that although I was 50 years of age, my physical condition was excellent and stated that I attributed this largely to my abstinence from alcohol and tobacco. To demonstrate my agility, I turned a summersault and handspring, and while doing this, two cigars, which I had won from Walden in a bet, rolled out on the floor. The audience let out a roar and gave us a great hand. They evidently considered it all a part of the show.
“How I came to have the cigars in my pocket is something of a story in itself. A short time before this, Walden had bragged that his Chinook would break out and pull a heavier load than any dog in the country. I had watched his dogs perform and answered with a challenge that my Togo, who weighed only 48 pounds in harness, could pull any load that Walden’s Chinook could. Although neither of us smoked, we bet two cigars on the result.
“The sled was loaded with several sacks of cement onto which Walden hooked his dog. Chinook could not even start the load until Walden had kicked the runners loose from the snow. I knew that Togo could do better but felt that here was an opportunity to inject a little comedy into the act. Kingiak, my Eskimo helper, hid one of Walden’s farm chickens under his parka and stepped out ahead of Togo a distance of 20 feet or so. On my command, Togo leaped to one side with his full weight straining against the collar, then another leap to the left and the sled runners were loosened. Just then Kingiak let the chicken clap his wings and Togo was upon him in a couple of jumps with a loaded sled following easily behind. Walden was a good sport and conceded that Togo had won the cigars for me. And that, as I intimated, was how I happened to have the cigars on me when we spoke before the audience at the Fryeburg Academy.”
The Poland Spring challenge race
Seppala’s 1927 team
The Leonhard Seppala 1927 team
(Photo courtesy Elsie Chadwick, The Siberian Husky Archive)
Walden didn’t think too much of Seppala’s little Siberian dogs. Seppala overheard Walden as he told Mrs. Ricker (race entrant and wife of the Hotel manager) so, upon their arrival at Poland Spring Hotel. The New England mushers had apparently picked up on the Alaskan catch phrase of “Siberian rats.” Seppala, for his part, seemed equally unimpressed with what he later referred to as Walden’s “big, awkward mongrels.” So the challenge had certainly been set; it was to be won, again, by Togo.

Seppala later described his first race in New England — the NEW ENGLAND SLED DOG RACE, Poland Spring, Maine, January (28-29 per race program, but 25-26 per Seppala’s account), 1927, as a series of hard luck incidents. The team bolted off trail and dragged him over a stone wall at the start of the race. Then they went directly thru the wide open door of a house on the bend in the trail, where a woman was frying a pan of hot meat on the stove, scaring her half to death and into a faint. Then Mrs. Ricker lost her team just after he had safely passed them; Seppala quickly made the decision to help her, saving her team from tangles and potential dog fights. She thanked him for his efforts on the trail and remarked that his stopping to help her would surely lose the race for him! Another report included a skunk having crossed the trail near the end, providing his Siberians with just the boost they need to finish first and fast, miraculously not bolting off trail again.

Seppala managed to finish in first place, in spite of it all, seven minutes ahead of Walden. He had methodically concealed his team’s true capabilities during training at Wonalancet Farm. Walden could hardly believe that Seppala had won. The judges reportedly cancelled the remainder of the race next day, due to icing of the trail overnight and in order to save the dogs’ feet for the next month’s scheduled 133 mile New England point to point race (which Seppala also went on to win!).

The Poland Spring race was a great thrill for Seppala that also won him many life-long friends, including his soon-to-become manager and Seppala-Poland Spring kennel partner, one and the same Mrs. Elizabeth Ricker. After the race, Seppala also gifted Togo, his favored leader, to Mrs. Ricker, in Togo’s retirement. After the race season, Seppala reportedly returned to Alaska in April 1927, and removed back to Poland Spring kennel again with his remaining dogs from Nome, in October of the same year. Also in mid-1927, Walden turned to the serious business of preparing dogs and drivers for the first Byrd Antarctic Expedition.

Chinook and Togo
It is remarkable that these two breed legends and most trusted leaders presumably shared barn quarters and trails during one fated racing season in Wonalancet NH and Poland Spring ME, January thru March 1927, especially given how otherwise divergent were the origins and travels of the dogs themselves, not to mention those of their drivers. Chinook was of Walden’s own breeding and a “Husky Half-bred,” “born of an Eskimo mother and a mongrel father.” Togo was of Seppala’s own breeding of his half-breed Siberian leader Suggen and a Siberian import bitch named Dolly.

That their descendants have met yet again in the International Seppala Association ‘barn’ this January some 87 years hence, this writer finds equally remarkable. Walden remarked in his book, A Dog Puncher On The Yukon, that he thought he had a full team waiting for him already in the happy hunting grounds. “But trouble will certainly be brewing, for they were all leaders,” he said. May the ‘trouble’ between Chinook and Togo remain in the brewing then! For above all else, the two remain legends in their own time, remarkable team and trail leaders, as well as breed founders.

Mission Statement

THE MAIN GOAL of the International Seppala Association is to advance and support the survival of historic sleddog breeds in their original form (as nearly as possible), doing their traditional work.
The Association was founded with seven distinct purposes enshrined in its Constitution.

Our first and foremost purpose is the protection, preservation and maintenance of historic sleddog bloodlines, particularly the Leonhard Seppala Siberian sleddog lineage and the Arthur Walden Chinook sleddog lineage, but we stand ready to assist others in similar tasks involving other historic sleddog lines.

The second purpose is to foster and encourage the preservation, furtherance and enhancement of versatile working sleddog ability in Seppala sleddogs, Chinooks and other historic sleddog breeds. No historic breed can long retain its original form unless it continues to do its traditional work.

The third purpose is to encourage the importation of indigenous sleddog stock from Siberia, particularly with a view to the genetic support and renewal of the Leonhard Seppala bloodline; and also to foster and facilitate efforts to preserve and provide genetic support to the Chinook bloodline.

Our fourth purpose is educational: to collect, preserve and make available general information, historic material and other data about historic sleddog breeds and bloodlines, and to foster knowledge and education about all aspects of historic sleddogs among the general public, the dog fancy, and those involved in such breeds and bloodlines.

Our fifth purpose is to collect, to keep, and to make available ancestral records and pedigree data of individual sleddogs in the breeds we support.

Our sixth purpose is to promote and stand guard over sleddog welfare in both the individual and the collective sense, and to take whatever action may be appropriate to protect and represent sleddog welfare, including making representations to government when needed.

Our seventh purpose is to sponsor and/or to hold any sleddog activities or support activities decided upon by our membership.

The International Seppala Association is a non-profit organisation of concerned sleddog owners, breeders and fanciers who donate their time and expertise in the service of the above purposes.

International Seppala Association

General Information
Copyright ©2018 by J. Jeffrey Bragg
THE GOAL OF THE INTERNATIONAL SEPPALA ASSOCIATION is the preservation, protection and advancement of historic sleddog breeds and bloodlines. Today’s mainstream AKC/CKC northern breeds such as the Siberian Husky and the Alaskan Malamute hardly deserve the title of sleddogs, apart from tiny minority populations within those breeds. They do not adequately represent the proud legacy of the working sleddogs who saved lives and provided daily winter transport in polar, arctic and subarctic regions of the world a century or more ago. Today, certain populations still survive that have always been bred as sleddogs and continue to serve that purpose, rather than the more common purposes of show dogs or household pets. The International Seppala Association provides support and services for sleddog groups of that kind.

Two famous dog drivers who each founded a breed
LEONHARD SEPPALA became famous in Alaska as an all-time great dog driver of unparalleled ability in the handling and training of sleddogs. His Siberian dogs were the basis for his domination of the Nome Sweepstakes in the last three years of its existence. He later won fame throughout the USA for his crucial role in the dogsled delivery of antiserum in the 1925 Nome diphtheria epidemic. Seppala worked with and popularised the Siberian sleddog in Alaska from 1914 until 1926. Following the Nome Serum Run, Seppala toured the U.S. with his dogs. His tour finished in Poland Spring, Maine, where he ran a historic challenge race with Arthur Walden. In that race he met Elizabeth Ricker, with whom he began a partnership breeding Siberian dogs in Poland Spring.

ARTHUR WALDEN had driven dogs in the Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush; later he became famous for his exploits with his large tawny leader, The Great Chinook. Walden and his leader, together with 15 of Chinook’s sons, hauled record loads of freight over the antarctic barrier ice during the offloading of Byrd Antarctic Expedition I flag ship to base camp Little America. Chinook himself disappeared in the Antarctic night on his twelfth birthday and was never found.

WALDEN HOSTED SEPPALA and his Siberian dog team at his home in Wonalancet Farm and Chinook Kennels in Tamworth, New Hampshire, in the winter of 1926-27, when both men were actively breeding and racing their sled dogs for recreation, sport, and publicity. The challenge race at Poland Spring was a turning point in both their careers; Walden’s Chinooks were no match for Seppala’s Siberians that fateful day. Walden’s racing career ended there; he went on to gain fame for his dogs on the Byrd Expedition, while Seppala pursued a successful race circuit in New England and Canada during the same period, gaining widespread renown for his “Seppala Siberians.”

Historic legacy sleddog breeds
THE SEPPALA SIBERIAN SLEDDOG is the direct descendant of Seppala’s dogs from Alaska. A new importation of dogs from Siberia by the Seppala/Ricker kennel, the last to come out of Siberia before the Iron Curtain descended, contained two crucial brothers, “Kree Vanka” and “Tserko,” who were bred to Sepp’s bitches from Alaska. Core stock from Poland Spring, including the two Siberia import studs, went to Harry Wheeler in Canada in 1931. The Wheeler stock bred from those males and Poland Spring bitches became the basis for the Seppala Siberians that were well-known and respected throughout New England and eastern Canada in the 1930s and 1940s. The core bloodline passed from Wheeler through the kennels of William Shearer and J. D. McFaul during the 1950s. Then in 1963 McFaul retired without a successor kennel, and the bloodline came perilously near extinction. It was rescued in the 1970s through the breeding of Markovo and Seppineau Kennels, at the cost of a genetic bottleneck event. The close of the twentieth century saw great controversy, misunderstanding and confusion concerning Seppalas, along with misguided cross-straining with mainstream Siberian Huskies for speed racing purposes. The primary motive for foundation of the International Seppala Association was the preservation of the true Seppala strain from assimilation into the Siberian Husky showdog breed through continued cross-straining, along with the protection of its identity as a versatile multipurpose sleddog breed.

THE CHINOOK DOG is represented today by descendants of three progeny of Walden’s famous lead dog, Jock (m), Hootchinoo (m) and Zembla (f), all that were left after the Byrd Expedition and the takeover of Chinook Kennels by Milton and Eva B. Seeley. The breed is genetically diverse from recent outcrosses following a rescue and second bottleneck event in 1981 when the Perry Greene kennel closed. Like the Seppala sleddog, the Chinook has had genetic setbacks. Like the Seppala, it has endured controversy and division among its breeders. Like the Seppala, it needs to preserve its purpose and identity as a versatile working sleddog breed.

NEW SIBERIAN IMPORT STOCK became available once more in the wake of the breakup of the USSR in 1989. One such dog of classic Siberian type was obtained for use in the genetic renewal of the Seppala Siberian. Today dogs from Yakutia and Kamchatka are again available in small numbers. Traditional European and North American dog registries are not always prepared fully to serve the needs of these regional dog breeds. These sleddog breeds, older than any in North America, are at continued risk in Russia and elsewhere. The International Seppala Association welcomes them and looks forward to working closely with importers and breeders of autochthonous Siberian dogs to assure their continued survival and to meet their record-keeping needs and special requirements.

You can help historic sleddog breeds to survive
Dedicated dog drivers and sleddog fanciers can help in the task of preserving, protecting and advancing these and other historic legacy sleddog breeds — through RESPONSIBLE BREEDING, training and ownership, through helping make dog driving an ecologically and economically SUSTAINABLE SPORT, through accepting their share in the duties of HISTORIC BREED SURVIVAL, and through the recognition that RECREATIONAL MUSHING is vital to such survival. They can help also through membership in the International Seppala Association, which stands for historic sleddog breeds as such, rather than primarily for racing. We see all legacy sleddog populations as something more than just a means of ego-gratification through athletic competition. These breeds exist in their own right and for their own sake, quite apart from anyone’s notions about athletic elitism and sleddog excellence.