Siberian Husky Bloodlines: MARKOVO

The MARKOVO bloodline saved the pure Leonhard Seppala strain of Siberian sleddogs from certain extinction. It had its beginning late in 1969 when DITKO OF SEPPALA was acquired from Elizabeth Ricker's daughter, Bunty Goudreau of SNOW RIDGE Kennels in Chelmsford, Ontario. Owning DITKO briefly in his old age was an experienced that marked me for life. Through him, the sleddogs of Seppala strain reached out and touched me, told me that they were different from any other Siberian Huskies in existence, and enlisted my aid in their battle for survival. I was breeding mainstream Siberians at the time and it took me far too long to "shift gears"; I had too much to learn, too quickly. The escape of Seppala lineage from oblivion was a very near thing.

DITKO OF SEPPALA, a J. D. McFaul male hand-picked by Elizabeth Ricker Nansen, was bred to DUSKA OF SEPPALA, one of the last McFaul bitches, on lease from Earl F. Norris her owner. The mating produced the H litter on 13 September 1970, seven pups of which four went to Duska's owner. The remaining three, HAAKON OF MARKOVO (male), HELEN OF MARKOVO and HOLLY OF MARKOVO (females) became core breeding stock for the MARKOVO rescue programme. Two additional bitches were slated for breeding to DITKO, but he died of abdominal cancer (in July 1971) before LYL OF SEPSEQUEL (by MALAMAK'S EGO ex EMBER OF SNOW MYTH) and FROSTFIRE ANISETTE (by MALAMAK'S GLACIER ex MALAMAK'S JAUNTY) came in season a second time. (The first time they came in season I was in the middle of a hurry-up move from Pefferlaw in southern Ontario to Oxford Station in eastern Ontario; I never forgave myself for rashly assuming that since it wasn't convenient to breed at that time, I could easily breed them the following spring. A planned mating with MONTE ALBAN XIPE (by MALAMAK'S ENOKE ex SPOOK OF NORDIC) owned by Larry Prado came to nothing when Larry refused to leave his bitch with me after the dogs refused to mate on day 9 of her heat.)

LYL OF SEPSEQUEL was shipped for breeding to Dr. E. Rule Olson's MIKIUK TUKTU TORNYAK (by BRYAR'S SILVER ex BRYAR'S QUEEN) and whelped the MARKOVO "N" litter on 14 December 1971. There was then a hiatus while the H and N litter dogs grew up. The next step was trial matings between the two litters. That produced the "W", "X", and "Z" litters of MARKOVO in the early months of 1973. SHANGO OF SEPPALA was finally acquired as a replacement for DITKO in summer of 1973 from Earl Norris (who had bought few remaining McFaul dogs from Donnie).

After I finally made the commitment to breed Seppalas only and moved from Ontario to Saskatchewan with 14 dogs, FROSTFIRE ANISETTE was finally shipped to Gary Egelston for breeding to his VANKA OF SEPPALA (3rd) (earlier in eastern Ontario "Annie" had whelped the 7/8 Seppala TADLUK "O" litter to NE-TUK'S VULCAN OF MANAHTOK, but that litter remained in Ontario with the other Tadluk stock). She whelped the "M" litter on 23 December 1973. LYL OF SEPSEQUEL, HELEN OF MARKOVO and HOLLY OF MARKOVO were all bred to SHANGO OF SEPPALA; HOLLY did not conceive, but LYL and HELEN whelped their litters in January 1974. All of us were lucky to survive the blizzards and the hardships of that first hastily-chosen prairie farm.

In summer of 1974 Betsy Bush, the MARKOVO dogs and I moved from the first bleak Saskatchewan farm to another less inhospitable one in a more sheltered area. Two more bitches were acquired, PATOU OF MONTE ALBAN from New Hampshire and ASARI OF MANAHTOK from Egelston in Missouri. The following winter saw two more litters by SHANGO out of HOLLY OF MARKOVO ("R" litter) and NERA OF MARKOVO ("A" litter). We did not get litters from the two imported bitches. By the summer of 1975 economic hardship brought the MARKOVO project to a forced termination; by October all the accumulated stock had been dispersed as well as possible.

In summary, the foundation stock of the MARKOVO rescue project bloodline was:

Of the stock whose bloodlines contributed to the MARKOVO rescue, all but one were pure McFaul Seppala/Shearer background with no admixture of any mainstream "racing Siberian Husky" bloodlines. The single exception was LYL OF SEPSEQUEL whose pedigree contained some GATINEAU ancestry. Much has been made of this by Doug Willett and others as an excuse and justification for the inclusion of a wide variety of Seeley-derived mixed lineage in his breeding programme (roughly 70% of the Sepp-Alta output being mixed stock). The true and actual percentage of known Leonhard Seppala background in LYL's pedigree was 98.82%; the inclusion of LYL at a time when McFaul bitches were ageing and almost impossible to obtain, scarcely makes much of an argument for today's 5/8 Seppala stock masquerading as pure Strain.

Like the Seppala/Ricker Poland Spring kennel forty years before it, the MARKOVO operation lasted less than five years as a breeding kennel. Its history was intense and brief, but it bought survival for Seppala strain when extinction had otherwise been a virtual certainty. With better economic resources and more knowledge gained earlier in time, the bottleneck caused by the closing of the McFaul kennel in1963 without a successor might have been minimised. However, none of those who criticise MARKOVO today were there in the late 1960s to take up the challenge of saving Seppala strain from extinction. Without MARKOVO there would have been no SEPP-ALTA and Seppalas would be only a memory in the 21st century.

SAMPLE PEDIGREE -- HELEN OF MARKOVO (Opens in a new window.)
SAMPLE PEDIGREE -- MOKKA OF MARKOVO (Opens in a new window.)
SAMPLE PEDIGREE -- AUNA OF MARKOVO (Opens in a new window.)
SAMPLE PEDIGREE -- Markovo influence: UELEN'S BEOWULF OF SEPP-ALTA (Opens in a new window.)
SAMPLE PEDIGREE -- Markovo influence: HERCULES OF SEPP-ALTA (Opens in a new window.)