Gealach Mor Siberians
Working sleddogs - just for the love of it..............
I have always loved books and reading. Since my fascination with sleddogs has taken hold, I have collected just about every book I could find that deals with the actual dogs themselves, the epic journeys they have helped people undertake or the marvelous races they have inspired people to run.
Everyone has their own favourite pastime of course, but one of mine is to sit out with the dogs on a lovely summer's evening and read Winterdance.
I hope to list here some of my favourite books along with the odd comment.
If you are aware of an unusual sled dog book that may be of interest, then please let me know. If you are looking to buy books, whether sled dog related or not, I hope you'll browse my store and find what you are looking for.
The Seppala Siberian Doug Willett Heritage North Press 1986
The Sepp - Alta Siberian Husky Doug Willett (poss self published) 1992
Both of these books are a wonderful source of pedigree information for Seppala strain Siberians. Between them, they list every litter bred by Doug Willett since 1975 up to 2000 and they also include breedings by the other major Seppala bloodline kennels. A great insight into some of what went on in the past and some marvelous photographs too.
Seppala's Saga of the Sled Dog Raymond Thomson R Thomson Co no date
Volumes I and II
A fascinating insight into the life of Leonhard Seppala and the dogs that he worked with and raced. Of course, it includes a chapter devoted to the famous Serum Run - but for me it is the more obscure areas of daily life that make these volumes such an interesting read.
Thomson's stated objective in publishing these books was " as a memorial to Leonhard and Constance Seppala and.... to eulogize the sled dogs that played so important a role in the early history of Alaska"
I can't think of much better a reason for writing.
Seppala - Alaskan Dog Driver Elizabeth M Ricker Atlantic Monthly Press 1930
reprinted Hoflin Publishing 1996
Written in some style by Elizabeth Ricker, this is Seppala's story in his own words.
A large section is devoted to the Serum Run and allows us to learn much about how he developed as a man into the legend that he became. From the foreword, it seems this book was written in part to try to redress the balance of fame that Seppala felt had been overly attributed to Balto. It was of course, Togo who led Seppala's team over much of its 340 miles out and back.
Written in the late 20's and with the epic journey still fresh, Seppala appears to come across as a touch bitter that Togo's efforts and racing achievements were being transposed onto another dog. One which Seppala himself had sold on as not being good enough.
"Scotty" Allan Shannon Garst Wells Gardner, Darton & Co
King of the Dog-Team Drivers 1948
Alaska's history is full of "outsiders" who have staked their claim and made a name for themselves in their new home. One such man is Allan Alexander Allan - who emigrated to America in 1887as a teenager, delivering a Clydesdale horse from Scotland to South Dakota.
Scotty's story is told by Garst with a lot of the detail being provided by Allan's kin. It is easy to read, if a little old fashioned in style.
It is however, wonderful to read of Allan's involvement in the setting up of the first All Alaska Sweepstakes in 1908 and his desire that the race to show who had the best dogs should be a real test of their abilities. He settled on a trail length of 408 miles.
Scotty may be famous in Alaska, alas he is almost unknown in his homeland. However, there is a small museum dedicated to Scotty Allan near Aviemore in the Highlands.
For all that there are hundreds, if not thousands of dog races held each year, there are only two that seem to attract any great attention from the outside world. These, of course, are the Iditarod and the Yukon Quest.
Each of these famous, gruelling races, taking place over 1000 miles of wilderness, vies for the accolades as THE race. The Iditarod is probably the better known of the two, has been organised for longer and attracts more racers,more publicity and more money. It revels in the legend as being "The Last Great Race". The Yukon Quest, first run in 1984 holds its self out as more of a old style musher's race - outside assistance is not allowed except at one checkpoint - the distances between checkpoints are much further than on the Iditarod - and correspondingly, mushers require to carry much more in the way of supplies and equipment on their sleds. The Quest's logo of being the "World's Toughest Sled-Dog Race" reflects that.
Each race has its detractors and its supporters - many mushers have run both.
Personally ( and this is my website after all ) I prefer the Yukon Quest. Not that you'll ever catch me running one of those epic races - I may stretch to mid distance one day - but 1000 + miles............
Yukon Alone John Balzar Henry Holt & Co 1999
Running North Ann Mariah Cook Algonquin Books 1998
Fulda Yukon Quest Jurgen Hampel/ Gummiwerke Fulda Gmbh 1997
Racing The White Silence Adam Killick Penguin Canada 2002
Honest Dogs Brian Patrick O'Donoghue Epicenter Press 1999
Winterdance Gary Paulsen Victor Gollanz 1995
The Fine Madness of Alaskan Dog Racing
A Fan's Guide to the Iditarod Mary H Hood Alpine Publications 1996
The Last Great Race Tim Jones
Race Across Alaska Tim Jones/Libby Riddles
Adventures of the Iditarod Air Force Ted Mattson
(a collection of short stories about the volunteer pilots who support the race, flying supplies in and dogs out)
Iditarod Classics Lew Freedman Epicenter 1992
(a collection of short stories reflecting a variety of aspects of the race)
Iditarod Dreams Lew Freedman/DeeDee Jonrowe
Iditarod Country Tricia Brown
(a wonderful photobook with pictures by Jeff Schulz)
Iditarod Silver Lew Freedman
(a coffee table book published to celebrate 25 years of the Iditarod
- awesome photographs by Jeff Schulz)
My Lead Dog was a Lesbian Brian Patrick O'Donoghue
(Journalist turned musher and races - some people can't stand his style but I liked it and what a great book title
Back of The Pack Don Bowers
Father of the Iditarod - Joe Redington Lew Freedman
One Second to Glory Dick MacKey/Lew Freedman
Everything I Know About Racing and Training Sleddogs George Attla with Bella Levorson 1972
(Racing legend discusses his methods)
Speed Mushing Manual Jim Welsh Sirius 1989
Winning Strategies for Distance Mushers Joe Runyan Runyan 1997
(Joe has won the Iditarod, Yukon Quest and Alpirod in Europe. He knows his stuff)