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« Winterize your pets: Prepare now for the cold days ahead | Main | Brave new world? Superbug bites both my dogs this time »

25 September 2008

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H. Houlahan

People don't believe me when I tell them that distance-racing Alaska huskies are far and away the greatest athletes on the planet, any species, ever.



Just their ability to convert food calories into energy would qualify them on that score. (It rivals the ability of the alien mutant broiler hybrid chickens to convert food calories into meat.)



But that they do it while covering some of the harshest ground on the planet -- I am, and will always remain, in awe.

H. Houlahan

The CITIZENS of Alaska, when asked, voted NO on aerial slaughter of wolves in 2000.



And there was no such thing under Governor Knowles.



But politicians such as Palin and Jail-Bait Murkowski just kept circumventing the mandate of the referendum.



In 2008, there was ANOTHER referendum (hey guys, didn't we vote on this before?), and Palin pumped $400K of state money into a propaganda campaign to defeat it, and introduced legislation that would prohibit Alaskans from holding referenda on wildlife issues!



Palin's bounty came up because not enough "hunters" are interested in slaughtering wolves from the air.



Democratic process = FAIL.



But it is one issue that could persuade me to boycott the Iditarod coverage.

Anne T

Any well conditioned dog, who can pursue it's working function, from moving sheep from pasture to pasture, chasing and catching live prey over or under various difficult terrains, pulling a sled in horrific winter conditions or holding an angry steer by the nose for the butcher just blows me away. To see a dog as an athlete, doing the job his type was bred for, is an awesome thing.

What the studies will tell us is that for generalists, we as a species aren't bad since we can do such a huge variety of tasks, but we will never achieve what a sled dog does no matter how many drugs we take unless we deliberately breed for it. That's what we have done with dogs, at least in the beginning before the advent of kennel clubs and breed standards; select for a specific set of skills, and breed for them. And as we all know, that selection has led to it's own sets of genetic problems.

Perhaps studying what makes sled dogs or salukis or border collies do what they do so well may lead us to a better understanding of how the mammalian body/brain works, but it won't help us better ourselves unless we undergo a gargantuan philosophic shift about our own hodge podge breeding practices. And that ain't going to happen.

Shannon Watts

There are many Northern breeds capable of mushing but I believe one of the oldest is the Siberian husky. Siberians have been a distinct breed for thousands of years alongside the Chukchi people. While the Chukchi certainly bred for specific characteristics, they also lived a very hard life so weak animals didn’t survive. The result is a very hardy breed with few genetic defects (recommended to screen eyes and hips although the OFA ranks them 143/150 for risk of hip dysplasia). Since reindeer were used for heavy loads, the dogs were bred for speed and endurance with minimal food. Siberians are smaller than other northern breeds. Since the dogs were part of the family, they have a sweet and amiable temperament. Another interesting point, the Chukchi believed heaven was guarded by two Siberian huskies. Anyone who mistreated a dog can’t get in!

Joy

I feel sad for the Iditarod dogs who are kept on chains their whole lives except for when they are training/racing. Someone once told me that's just the "culture" of it...but I still feel bad for the dogs.

redstarcafe

Sled dogs good; wolves bad. It puzzles me that the home of the Iditarod promotes aerial hunting.

paula recchia

The citizens of Alaska don't seem to be able to influence the elimination of aerial wolf hunting but tourists can by putting and keeping the pressure on!

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