Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Sled dogs


The practice of using dogs to pull sleds dates back to at least 2000 B.C. It originated in Siberia or North America, where many American Indian cultures used dogs to pull loads. In 1911, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen used sled dogs in a race to become the first person to reach the South Pole. He succeeded, while his competitor Robert Falcon Scott, instead used Siberian ponies because he lacked experience in handling dogs.  The poor ponies tragically perished. 

One of the advantages of using sled dogs in polar regions is their uncomplicated food requirements. They can be fed seal meat; it is unnecessary to make elaborate arrangements for bringing along food for them. Amundsen went even further on his expedition to the South Pole. He shot the dogs he no longer required and fed them to his remaining sled dogs.

In the 20th century, more convenient technology such as the airplane and snowmobile replaced sled dogs as the preferred mode of transportation in the arctic and subarctic regions of North America. Today, mushing survives mostly in the form of the recreational sport of sled dog racing. Nonetheless, it remains an important cultural practice of the aboriginal people of Siberia, Canada, and the U.S. state of Alaska.

Helmer Hanssen, who had been responsible for the welfare of the sled dogs in Amundsen’s South Pole team quoted:

"Dogs like that, which share man's hard times and strenuous work, cannot be looked upon merely as animals. They are supporters and friends. There is no such thing as making a pet out of a sledge dog; these animals are worth much more than that."

4 comments:

Winchester whisperer said...

What a great photo! Awful that the dogs ate their friends...

Eurodog said...

Nature is cruel, WW.

ADDY said...

"He shot the dogs he no longer required and fed them to his remaining sled dogs." I can see the logic to this, but I could never do this myself. I'd sooner shoot my own leg off!

Eurodog said...

Yes, ADDY, I agree but do we know what became of the dogs once the expedition over?