We are devastated to announced that Enya left us suddenly after a brief battle with an unknown medical problem. We are still trying to make sense of everything but our veterinary team had narrowed down the possibilities to an autoimmune disorder or cancer. By the time they had come to these considerations she was extremely compromised and we decided to let her go with peace and dignity rather than prolong suffering with unknown expectations of recovery.
Enya joined the family in July of 2012 as a fiery little ball of fluff. We had aspirations of her being one of our next show prospects and potential foundation for the future of our kennel. While some plans didn't come to fruition she found her place in harness on our early sled teams. She took to her work in harness with enthusiasm and drive.
Enya brought many years of joy to our team and home. It is hard to imagine our kennel without her happy woos, her enthusiasm toward everything she took on, and her fiery spirit. Words cannot express the depth of our sadness having to have let her go so soon.
Enya has earned her Silver Harness and we know she is wearing it with pride - until we meet again baby bird, we miss you and love you.
A Spotlight on the Serum Run
January 1925, a Diphtheria outbreak in the town of Nome the cure 500 miles away in Anchorage. Planes were unable to fly in Alaska's extreme winter weather. Trains could make it as far a Nenana, The only option looked like the dog teams running the 650 mile freighting line, the Iditarod trail, a trip that would typically take a month for a single team a relay was the only real option. 20 Mushers volunteered to take on the "Great Race of Mercy" to help save the stricken residents of Nome.
Leonard Seppala and his 12 year old leader Togo were the first on the trail traveling 260 miles from Nome in just three days. The serum continued its journey being passed from team to team running legs of 24-52miles each finally reaching Seppala in Shaktoolik on January 31. The temperature was estimated at −30 °F and a wind chill of −85 °F when they departed. At Golovin, Seppala passed the serum to Charlie Olsen, who in turn would pass it to Kaasan and Balto to complete the final 50mi leg to Nome.
Kaasan's team lead by Fox and Balto came into Nome on February 2nd completing a monumental feat in just 127.5 hours. While its undisputed that Seppala's team, lead by Togo, took on the majority of the monumental task , Balto arriving with the Serum became a media sensation. Fearing that Fox would be mistaken to be a real fox Balto became the image of teamwork, courage, tenacity, and of hope.
The run is commemorated every March when sled-dog teams gather from around the world to participate in the Iditarod, a race that follows the serum-run route.
Ch Wanalancet's Baldy of Alyeska, one of the lesser known prolific dogs in the breed. Baldy is described as a tall, handsome blue-eyed sled-dog. A true testament to the breed.
Born in 1940, he was the great- grandson of Kreevanka, on ne of the last imports from Siberia. Baldy was a nicely proportioned male that went on to become the first Siberian to win the Working Group in 1941. He also became the foundation stud for Earl and Natalie Norris' famed Alaskan Kennels. From that stock the Norris' produced the first Best In Show Ch Alaskan's Bonzo of Anadyr, CD in 1955.
In February of 2019 I published a blog post with honest optimism that things were finally falling back into place for us. It seemed my partner's betrayals had maybe finally come to an end and we were slowly climbing back out of the hole we found ourselves in after multiple affairs and selfish acts had taken their tolls. Unfortunately that hope was short lived and things slid from bad to worse in many ways. Looking back some of what transpired is almost too unbelievable even for me to truly comprehend and I lived, or rather survived, the nightmare. Betrayed by people I once kept close to me and called my friends, let down by a breed community, and ultimately left broken by someone who was supposed to be my partner.
My original thoughts were to post my side of the narrative. Knowing the only people, or person, it would benefit would be my own heavy heart. Unfortunately the truth doesn't sell as well as the rumors did on the lips of those who really don't matter. The ones who are so miserable in their own situations they would rather gossip about others than actually reach out for eachother when there is an actual need. You see I never asked to end up in a domestic violence situation. Worried that every word or action would send us spiraling into another fight. I never wanted to be kicked out of my own home not knowing where to go or if my dogs were being cared for while I was not there. I didn't want to be embarrassed at work finding out my partner was having an affair with a co-worker and was subsequently fired for sexual misconduct. I never thought I would ever end up at a point of critical depression that I thought suicide might be the only way to stop the pain. I certainly never wanted to have to make the decision to sell equipment or having to ask friends and family to help buy dog food to make sure my dogs had food in their bellies, though sometimes it wasn't enough. Because of this I have been called weak for allowing myself to be abused and manipulated for as long as I was.
There have been others who have stood fast by our sides, helping us ultimately survive when times looked the most dire. The ones who have stood by us are there still. They know the pain, they know the truth, and they know how far we are going to have to go to rebuild everything we gave up or lost in effort to save something that was never salvageable. I will never forget the day I realized I was fighting for something that was gone. The moment I realized I was going to have to give up all of me to be nothing to him.
So, where do we go from here? The good news is I found my way out of a bad situation for me and the dogs I have remaining. Rightfully so I did have to give up some of the dogs for their best interest, though it was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. The only decision I would change is the one to contact the breeder of the higher maintenance dogs, assuming that option would have been available at the point I needed it most.
So what does 2021 look like for Keahi Siberians? Well, I'm happy to report we have a new partner who not only supports our vision but is engaged in learning everything he can about the dogs we love and the sports we are privileged to share with them. Together we have an up and coming Jr Musher/Handler, thats something I never thought I'd say! He has truly been a breath of new hope into a life that was once so dark and broken.
We have slowly stepped back into showing our dogs and rebuilding a vision I thought was all but lost. Its going to take time, but time is something we have and we will spend making new joyous memories. Look for us back on the trail in the 2021-2022 season and we cannot wait to share our future with our friends!
From all of us at Keahi Siberians- May your trails be smooth, May your runs be fast and safe, and may your dogs be happy Happy New Year
The Quest For Togo
For those who know me, it’s no secret I have a passion for the history of the breed. I’ve spent countless hours looking at historic photos, reading various texts, and generally getting lost in the rabbit holes you can end up on in the internet. In 2015, while on one of these adventures I stumbled across a somewhat blurry photo linked to a Facebook post from the Yale Peabody Museum. The photo was a cropped section part of a larger skeletal display of canines of various breeds. This particular post was a “guess the breed” edition of a trivia day from 2012. The breed was guessed and a clip of the placard was posted simply reading “Siberian Husky”.
In other readings I had recalled that upon Togo’s passing his remains were taken to the Yale Peabody Museum for preparation. His pelt was custom mounted as were his skeletal remains. The remains were donated to the museum while the pelt was placed on display at the Shelburne Museum in Virginia. Later to be moved to the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Museum In Alaska. From there it seems it was largely forgotten that the great sled dog and forefather to the recognized breed remained part of the Yale Peabody Museum’s archives. It was not even certain that the skeleton photographed in recent postings was one in the same. I set the thought aside for the time being.
Years later at the Siberian Husky National Specialty the topic arose once more as I discussed a captivating, yet very accidental find, with breed historians Bob and Pam Thomas. Though it was found to be interesting there was room for much doubt if Togo’s skeleton could actually still remain. And if so, what could this mean educationally to the breed? The spark was relit. I had to know if this was in fact Togo and if there was any way to prove it.
I started by reaching out to the Yale Peabody Museum through their Facebook page where I first found the photo that sparked my interest. While waiting for a response I began searching the digital archives and found the skeleton of the Siberian Husky catalogued as YPM MAM 7243 also Catalogued as “Togo”. The museum’s Facebook page responded with a suggestion to contact the Collection Director of Vertebrae Zoology. I sent an email and waited. A year passed with no response so I decided to give it one last try this past December.
Yesterday the response I had been waiting and hoping for arrived. Confirming what my heart already knew. The skeletal remains that were on display all those years ago is in fact that of the famed Togo. Donated to the Museum on December 5 1929 by his last owner Mrs Elizabeth M Ricker of Poland Springs Maine. The excitement was overwhelming to say the least.
Below you will find the correspondence and photo reply to my inquiry. I hope you share the excitement I felt!
Clearing The Air
First let me preface this post with a statement that I owe no one any explanation and make no excuses-I am writing this for me. With enough of the past behind me, and enough healing has come to pass, I felt it was time that I stop letting others dictate the narrative and share our truth.
Fall of 2017, at the beginning of training season, I had a personal set back. One that pulled the floor out from under me and sent me down a spiral I found nearly impossible to get myself out of. I will spare the details, for which they are not important to anyone but those directly involved. It was in this time I spent my time buried in my career or in a bottle to numb the reality of what I was facing.
Now, I am not particularly proud of what transpired. I never thought that anything could hit me so hard that I couldn't function in even the most basic capacities, but I was wrong. I gave up on everything. Nothing mattered. Nothing could get me out of the severe depression I found myself in. I stopped caring, I let my responsibilities go, I was done. Shamefully I tried, more than once, to take what I thought would have been the easiest way out...a coward's way out.
It was in this time I was only giving what I could when I could to the dogs. I realized, too late, that I needed to start planning on placing them. But how? How could I let go of the only thing that still made me feel anything at all? I had to realize it was a decision I needed to make for them, not for me.
When I decided which would be the first to place, it made sense in my mind to let the harder keepers go first. They were the ones who needed more than I was capable of giving at the time. It wasn't easy to admit defeat, but it was something I felt I needed to do. Instead of help I got judgment. I got smeared for making the hardest decision, though the most responsible decision I could when I was finally able to admit it. Little did I know that it was a decision that would have months of repercussions to follow. I had Sheriff's Deputies at my house, inspecting my kennel, inspecting my vet records, looking over the dogs. All to the conclusion of the dogs left in my charge were in good health, well cared for, and in no danger.
I suppose in a lot of ways I expected as much. Though I'm no stranger to the rumor mill. After all I'm still being called a puppy mill. Despite having never produced a litter of our own, but rather for having the audacity to have considered breeding before knowing anything about the breed. I had listened and spayed/neutered my first dogs and started learning about the breed but it was not enough. I will always have received my first show dog from a breeder that no one likes or respects. That will always define me to some...thats fine I still love my dog and cherish our memories together. But to be accused of letting select dogs suffer in my care while others did not. We all suffered. To be accused of never liking a dog because I dared to point out the truth about the dogs faults. There has never been a dog here that has not been loved for who they are and appreciated for what they brought to our lives.
In the end I had to give up a lot of what I worked so hard for. I have not run a team in over a year now. Most of our equipment is gone, and a chapter closed. Worse, I had to say goodbye to some pretty special dogs. I still have many who are very dear to me...but I miss the ones I let go. I let myself down. More importantly I let them down. It will not stop me from looking for their faces in my dog yard or reaching for them while doing chores in the kennels.
Today, things are still healing. It’s getting better day by day. These things take time and I’ve come to realize what is really important in this life. Family. But this is not the end for us in dogs. Maybe one day I'll feel the wind in my face as we run down the trails or the thrill of being in the show ring. For now, I'm focusing on us. Keeping us all healthy and happy. More importantly, finding us again. I will always advocate for the betterment of the breed and offer educational materials to those seeking answers to their questions- It has taken time to get my feet under me but we will be back soon.
Splitting The Breed
Working Lines? Show Lines? The perpetual argument that we've all but been beaten into submission to accept. We've heard it and seen it so often. "Working lines" used as a catch all for seemingly all lean, lanky, fine boned, poorly coated, awkwardly proportioned Siberians posted in a multitude of groups....where anything with a denser coat, heavy, short legged beast is labeled as a 'show line' Siberian. Leading to a massive split in the breed. Neither of these dogs fit what the Siberian husky should be.
What happened to the Correct Siberian? The one who meets his breed standard in form AND function? When we think of the Siberian Husky the image that comes to mind should be that of a capable working dog. A lean athlete. Nordic features to suggest him a survivalist in even the most extreme of temperatures. Balanced and efficient. Bred to haul light loads, at a moderate pace, over great distances. Never so fine as to suggest him incapable of doing his job, nor so coarse as to suggest a freighting animal. A dog that fits these ideals should be capable of his job as well as do well in the ring. After all we are supposed to be presenting the best of breeding stock- how can one justify producing a dog only capable of meeting half of the breeds potential?
I'm choosing for example 4 dogs from different lines- All 4 have had special places in their respective kennels. Meeting both form and function- Though from different breeding programs, overall, not that drastically dissimilar.
Its In The Eyes
One of the most striking features of the breed is of course their eyes. Many people, however, still believe the Siberian can only have blue eyes. Or that brown eyes indicate the dog is a mixed breed. This information is incorrect. We are blessed to have a breed that hosts a wide variety of eye colors and combinations. None are particularly rare, and none have any weight on the purity of the lines. All of the following are correct- Per the written standard, Eyes may be brown or blue in color; one of each or parti-colored are acceptable.
Where eye color is immaterial, what is less so is the shape and set of the eye. The Siberian should have an almond shaped eye with a slightly oblique set. This helps protect the eye in severe weather. A round buggy eye will freeze faster than an almond shaped eye will. As a northern breed, this is an important feature and lends to the overall appearance and expression.
While color is immaterial, what is less so is the importance of health testing the eyes. With the number of heritable eye health disorders within the breed, it is recommended that all Siberians considered for or in breeding programs be annually tested for heritable eye disease. Testing must be done by an ACVO licensed veterinarian and preferably submitted to OFA's CAER program or the SHCA's SHOR program.
These descriptions come directly from the Coat Color Identification Guidelines offered by the Siberian Husky Club Of America. The photos are to help illustrate the written word
BLACK AND WHITE
Guard coat is solid black, the individual guard hair is monochrome (not banded) black from root to tip. Single white guard hairs appear occasionally. The undercoat is black or more frequently dark grey. The jet black coat is frequently accompanied by great depth of black pigment on pads and roof of mouth.
Guard hairs are banded with some amount of white near roots. Single white guard hairs appear more frequently. Undercoat may be lighter than is seen in the jet black coat while some buff-colored hairs may be found in the lower stifle and in the vicinity of the ears. The dog gives the impression of having a black and white coat but without the depth of pigmentation found in the jet black and white coat.
Guard hairs are banded with the whitish cast extending substantially from the root and tipped with black. Undercoat has a whitish cast. Dog appears to be black on head and along spine while shorter guard coat along flanks produces a silver effect.
GRAY AND WHITE
Guard hair is banded with various tones of white and minimal black tipping. The undercoat is of a whitish cast. The effect produced is a silver shade of gray on head, back, and flanks, with only minimal darkening along spine.
The guard hair is banded with cream and/or buff tones near the root with black tipping. The light undercoat is toned to give the dog a yellowish-gray cast.
The guard hair is banded with buff tones near the root with black tipping. The cream tones of the undercoat combine to give the dog a brownish-gray cast
RED AND WHITE
Always associated with liver points (nose, lips, and eye rims) and complete absence of black hairs. Light, medium, and dark may be specified, determined by the amount of solid color banding on guard hair.
SABLE AND WHITE
The guard hair is banded with a reddish cast near the root with black tipping. Undercoat is reddish-copper. Always accompanied by black points; this color gives the dog a reddish cast and is not to be confused with wolf gray.
AGOUTI AND WHITE
The guard hair is banded with black near the root and at the tip with a yellow or beige band at the center of the hair. Undercoat is very dark. Defined as the "wild color," it is most frequently seen in wild rodents.
The guard hair appears to be either monochrome (not banded) or banded with pale cream tinges at the root of an otherwise white hair. An occasional black guard hair may appear. The undercoat is solid white. This coat color results from either an extreme piebald factor or an extreme dilution factor and may, as a result, be accompanied by either black or liver points.
Dakota's Arctic Rush, WD
July 2004, in a most impulsive moment, my (then) boyfriend and I walked into a pet store in Arizona....and walked out with a bat eared, blue eyed, black and white, scared Siberian Husky puppy. He curled up on the floor board of my car for the short ride home, and curled up into our hearts from the moment he came home. Though we had no idea what it was we were getting into, we couldn't have asked for a more perfect introduction to the breed.
He made the move from Phoenix AZ to the Spokane WA area in late 2004 and quickly acclimated to his new environment.
He was with us through many milestones, new jobs, new house, marriage. He was the first of our Siberians to earn a performance title. Though he wasn't cut out to be a sled dog, though he had the heart and the drive, he excelled at weight pull. Despite not having the most ethical breeding background or dazzling pedigree he didn't let that or his critics slow him down.
It wasn't easy saying goodbye to you, though we're glad to have been there for you in those last hours. I already miss hearing your soft woos coming from downstairs in the morning and your sass in the dog yard as you kept everyone else in check. Our house is a little quieter without you here and the hole in our hearts is a lot bigger. Thank you for being the one to start it all.
Growing up in Montana my love of the Siberian Husky started at a young age. It has been quite a journey so far. There has been much to learn and still a lot more yet to learn! I truly believe that we are never too old, too experienced, or too full of ourselves to learn something new. I also believe that knowledge is useless unless we are willing to share it with others.