January 16, 2012
Sled Dogs: A Study in Endurance, Fidelity, and Intelligence
Old Man Winter has made his presence known in most of the country by now, and both people and dogs are preparing themselves for the even colder days ahead. While many dogs blanch at the prospect of a long trek in the ice and snow, there’s one category of dogs that approaches it with sheer, unbridled eagerness and joy: they are the sled dogs, denizens of the frozen tundras and icy poles. Their athleticism and endurance is unrivaled, and their heroics, intelligence, and loyalty have been lauded around the world. This week, DogWatch would like to pay tribute to these hard (and hardy) workers, and we hope you’ll fall as in love with them as we have.
For thousands of years, man has used dogs as draft and pack animals, tapping into their endurance and strength to haul both people and goods across increasing distances and harsh climates. The earliest evidence of man using dogs to pull sleighs exists in the Thule people of Canada – the precursors of the Inuits – and dates back to around A.D. 1000. However, it is believed that domesticated working dogs existed in North America as far back as 15,000 years ago. For the Thule, Inuit, and Athabascan people of the great white north, as well as other northern native cultures, using these dogs for transportation of people and goods was a part of daily life. Read post »