The Seeley foundation started with a Seppala bitch . . .
THE SEELEY BLOODLINE STARTED with a Leonhard Seppala bitch leased from her
owner Walter Channing, Toto (by Togo x Nome). Toto was bred
to a dog named Tuck of unknown ancestry (from the kennel of
Mike Cooney in Alaska) owned by New England dogsled racer and
newspaper owner Moseley Taylor. The Tuck x Toto mating produced
a lone female, Tanta of Alyeska, that became the foundation
bitch of later Chinook/Wonalancet/Alyeska breeding (as well as of
the Lorna Demidoff "Monadnock" bloodline). Tanta of Alyeska was bred
to a dog owned by Leonard Chapman named Duke, whose ancestry
was also shadowy.
(The first SH registrations were not, as is sometimes thought, by either Seeley or the Seppala/Ricker kennel, but by Judge Julien A. Hurley of Fairbanks, AK, whose "Northern Light" Siberians accounted for the first twenty-five AKC Siberian registrations. Northern Light Siberians were imported to New England by Oliver Shattuck of Alton, NH, considerably influencing early Siberian breed history.).
Little evidence has survived to show us what kind of dog Duke actually was. Conflicting pedigrees are given for him; no photos are shown in breed books. He is reputed to have come from the John Johnson kennels in Alaska; his parentage is variously given as King x Wanda or Ici x Wanda. Little is known of these dogs, although Ici has been said to trace his ancestry to Seppala's great leader Scotty. Duke was shown in New England bench shows along with dogs like Belford's Wolf and Northern Light Kobuck (an all-white Hurley dog owned by Oliver Shattuck); Kobuck usually won, giving rise to a permanent vendetta among Seeley's supporters against white Siberians. (As late as the late 1960s serious effort was made to have white coats declared a disqualifying fault in the SH breed standard.)
Seeley breeding nevertheless became the dominant bloodline in the Siberian Husky breed (as did her Kotzebue bloodline in the case of the Alaskan Malamute), a position assured by its eventual success in the show ring, after the initial humiliation of losing the coveted first bench Championship in the breed to Oliver Shattuck with his Northern Light Kobuck. (Shattuck's white bitch Pola came very close to becoming the first female SH Champion as well, but died of distemper still lacking one point towards her title.)
The Seeley foundation litter, then, consisted of one-quarter known Seppala
stock and three-quarters uncertain ancestry from various other breeders
in Alaska. Of the nine dogs in that foundation litter, six were purchased by
Moseley Taylor as a team for his wife Lorna and a seventh was leased,
Cheeak of Alyeska, (she was annually returned to Chinook Kennels for
Two of the same litter, Yukon of Foxstand and Sitka of Foxstand, were sold to William L. Shearer III who bred an initial litter or two from them, and then purged the Seeley breeding from his bloodline. Sitka of Foxstand occurs in Gatineau pedigrees through Foxstand's Saint who was sold to J. D. McFaul for his Gatineau foundation.
Seppala sires underpinned the Seeley's early successes
EVA B. SEELEY IMMEDIATELY RUSHED to avail herself of Harry
Wheeler stock owned by various individuals in the New England Sled
Dog Club orbit. She used such sires as Wolfe of Seppala
(owned by Robert Hoover), Vanka of Seppala (Fred Lovejoy),
and Sapsuk of Seppala (Millie Turner), to further her breeding,
as well as the Poland Spring male Belford's Wolf. Early successful
Seeley show dogs were Ch. Cheenah of Alyeska, Ch. Laddy of
Wonalancet (sired by the pure Seppala Belford's Wolf),
Ch. Turu of Alyeska (also sired by Belford's Wolf), and
the first Siberian to win the Working Group, Ch. Wonalancet's Baldy
of Alyeska (by Ch. Turu of Alyeska out of Toska of Wonalancet, an
important female sired by Sapsuk of Seppala).
Such Chinook Kennels dogs as Ch. Laddy of Wonalancet, Tchuchis of Wonalancet, Toska of Wonalancet, and Blui of Chinook profoundly influenced the Igloo Pak bloodline of Dr. Roland Lombard. A grandson of Baldy, Alyeska's Sugrut of Chinook, was an important stud used by both Dr. Lombard and Earl F. Norris. Chinook's Alladin of Alyeska was, of course, the foundation sire for Norris' Anadyr bloodline.
Baldy's son Izok of Gap Mountain (bred and owned by William Belletete in New Hampshire) deeply influenced the entire New England racing Siberian complex. Izok eventually became the major genetic force behind Mrs. Demidoff's Monadnock bloodline. This dog's pedigree (linked below) illustrates the extent to which Seeley and her successors depended on the Wheeler and Poland Spring stock for the very existence of their bloodlines. (Both grandsires of Izok's sire Baldy were Seppala males -- Belford's Wolf from Poland Spring and Sapsuk of Seppala from the Wheeler kennels; Izok's dam was a Cold River bitch bred from two Wheeler sleddogs.) Thus Chinook Kennels' Chinook/Alyeska/Wonalancet strain became, largely on the backs of Poland Spring and Wheeler Seppala stock, the dominant bloodline in New England as well as in Alaska, where the closely-held Northern Light stock died out despite its head start in the AKC registry.
The Seeleys' Chinook Kennels was a highly commercial operation
CHINOOK KENNELS WAS DEEPLY INVOLVED in the promotion both of the Siberian Husky breed and of the Alaskan Malamute. "Short" Seeley drove a Malamute team in the 1932 Lake Placid Olympics Demonstration dogsled race, placing last of twelve teams in the 50-mile race; the Chinook Kennels Siberian Husky team, driven by Col. Norman Vaughan, was only one minute ahead of her (out of 7.25 hours total time). Lawrence L. Prado, Jr., an avid researcher of the early days of the Siberian Husky in New England, interviewed a former Chinook Kennels employee who bluntly alleged, "they registered the blue-eyed ones as Siberians and the brown-eyed ones as Malamutes." Whatever the truth may be, a cloud hung over the early Chinook Kennels Siberian registrations. AKC stud books of the day show repeated "corrections" of entries for a number of Seeley dogs, involving changes of sex, date of birth, and parentage. The Prado research disclosed an unsavoury mess in the Seeley kennel's record-keeping. To this day there is confusion regarding the parentage of certain dogs. For example, the authoritative breed book, "The New Complete Siberian Husky" by Michael Jennings, lists Sepp 3rd and Cheeak of Alyeska as the parents of Ch. Cheenah of Alyeska in the text (pp. 61-62), while on the next page (p. 63) the parentage of Ch. Cheenah of Alyeska is shown in a pedigree as Sepp III and Tosca of Alyeska. Prado's research revealed that this confusion came all the way down from the 1930s!
Chinook Kennels was a highly commercialised operation. Tours were given, pups were sold at hefty prices, contracts were made with the US Army and the US Navy, sleddogs were collected and trained there for the Byrd Antarctic Expedition. The emphasis was on producing a product and satisfying market demand; all else seems to have been secondary. After the death of the well-regarded Milton Seeley in 1944, his widow Eva B. became increasingly volatile, autocratic and ruthless. An appalling narrative from the point of view of one of the early Alaskan Malamute breeders, Robert Zoller of Husky-Pak Kennels, is available on the web at http://www.northernterritories.com/Zoller_files.htm which narrates in excruciating detail the amazing lengths to which Eva B. Seeley would go to maintain control of the breed and to discredit breeders, owners, dogs and bloodlines not under her own direct control.
Responsible followers of Leonhard Seppala avoided the Seeleys' breeding
SMALL WONDER, THEN, taking all the above influences into consideration, that the responsible followers of Leonhard Seppala in New England and Canada decided to have nothing whatever to do with Eva B. Seeley, her kennels or her bloodlines. First Harry R. Wheeler, the Belfords, William L. Shearer III (Foxstand), and finally J. D. McFaul when he purchased the Wheeler stock and kennel name, supported and maintained the tradition of keeping Seppala lineage entirely free of Seeley breeding. Shearer divested himself of the two dogs he had acquired from Seeley and purged the lineage from his bloodline. McFaul took the extreme step of selling off the existing Gatineau stock that he had bred for over a decade, once he acquired the Seppala name and the pure bloodline from Harry Wheeler.
Eva B. Seeley's Chinook Kennels breeding programme (and those of its successor show dog bloodlines such as Monadnock and Innisfree) was notorious for its "makeover" of the original Siberian stock. The Seeley foundation litter was similar to most Siberian stock of its day, long-legged and on the rangy side. The Jennings book testifies to the desire to produce a "short-coupled" Siberian from the early stock; this was the main thrust of Seeley developmental breeding. Later Eva B. Seeley vied with Lorna B. Demidoff to produce the first black-and-white, blue-eyed short-coupled dog that would be capable of effective show competition beyond the Best of Breed level. Mrs. Demidoff also stated her unwillingness to breed several of her early Siberians because they did not fit the desired shorter-legged, short-coupled mould that had been arbitrarily determined as the ideal Siberian Husky show type.
Seeleys' makeover of the breed solidified the Seeley/Seppala hiatus
APART FROM THE PURE SEPPALA STRAIN preserved through the succession
of kennels that started with Seppala Kennels in Poland Spring and
proceeded through Wheeler, Belford, Shearer, McFaul, McDougall, Bryar
and finally Markovo and Seppineau in the 1970s, all existing Siberian
Husky bloodlines partake of the Seeley foundation ancestry to a greater
or lesser extent. Prominent Racing Siberian Husky bloodlines such as
Anadyr, Igloo Pak and Calivali are (like Monadnock) essentially
Seeley-derived although (like all Seeley-derived lineage) they
nevertheless show approximately 60 to 70 percent Leonhard Seppala
ancestry if pedigrees are carried back to the breed foundation. Yet
the "remake" of the Siberian Husky undertaken by Seeley and Demidoff
was successful and lasting; seldom indeed do Seeley-derived
bloodlines produce anything resembling the Chinook Kennels racing
dogs of the 1930s.
That 70-percent identity of ancestry, however, makes nonsense of the proposition that Seeley-derived bloodlines can be a "useful outcross" to pure Seppala lineage. The background is 70% identical, therefore heterosis (hybrid vigour) is unlikely, while the other 30% has never been proved to be anything other than unknown and inferior stock.
Surely the judgment of Wheeler, Shearer and McFaul, who were so much closer to the dogs and events of the 1930s, should be allowed to stand and Seppala strain should continue to be preserved as a unique gene pool separate from the mainstream Seeley-derived Siberian Husky. It is for all the reasons discussed above that we firmly believe there should be no "outcrosses" from mainstream Racing Siberian Husky bloodlines admitted to the Seppala Siberian Sleddog gene pool.
SAMPLE PEDIGREE --
Ch. Wonalancet's Baldy of Alyeska (Opens in a new window.)
SAMPLE PEDIGREE -- Izok of Gap Mountain (Opens in a new window.)
SAMPLE PEDIGREE -- Alyeska's Sugrut of Chinook (Opens in a new window.)