Monday, February 11, 2008

This year Siberians might win it!!!!!!

Like a lot of guys, my head is filled with useless obscure sports trivia. Except in my case, its sports trivia about a really obscure sport: Long Distance dog mushing. Of which, there are really only two events: The iditarod and the Yukon Quest.

Also within that obscure sport, I root for an even more obscure segment: Siberian husky mushers. They are the ultimate underdogs. Literally. Every year there are one or two teams in either race, carrying the torch, but they usually get the red lantern.

So why do they always get the red lantern You ask? Well the easy answer is because siberians are slow. But that doesn't really answer the question. It goes deeper than that! Because to get the red lantern, first of all you have to complete the race and not give up! You have to be mentally tough and stubborn! People that scratch, never get the red lantern!

Time and time again, these rookie mushers running siberians, get the red lantern. I think it says somthing about them. People tend to value the qualities in their dogs that they value in themselves. Like their chosen breed, these people are tough and stubborn! And loyal! They simply won't give up on their chosen breed even if statistics say they have no virtually no chance of beating the speedier crossbred sled dogs!

You gotta love people like that.

But this year, there is somthing happening that most people may not know. There is a guy, Mike Ellis, running a team of dogs, that are actually of the same bloodline, of dogs that were run in 1998, by "Hall of Famer" Andre Nadeau, who almost won the race, but lost a showdown with Bruce Lee, but managed to win rookie of the year, First to Dawson and First across the border.

These were siberian huskies from the kodiak bloodline. Neadeau, had let their registrations with the CKC slip. But that is what they were. Some people have argued that, once you don't register a litter of siberian huskies, they automatically become alaskan huskies. And that is why they came in second place in 1998 because alaskan huskies are faster and his dogs technically were alaskan huskies.

Somthing doesn't seem quite right with the logic there.

But besides that, you may wonder, how can these dogs be that similar to Neadeaus, since its ten years later and Eliis dogs are registered siberian huskies. Obviously they aren't descended from Nadeau's dogs.

True,they aren't but genetically they are very similar. That is because the kodiak bloodline is very inbred. Inbred in a good way. Go back a few generations and you see "Spook of White Water Lake" over and over again. Spook, was himself inbred, so back from Spook, you get a bunch of the same dogs also. Plus people have linebred on Spook. So its almost like Kodiak dogs are all twins. Genetically, they are really alike.

I could spot kodiaks in a line up. They have a distinct look. But the fact is, this is the only line of siberians that cam close to winning the Yukon Quest in recent history.

Mike Ellis is doing well too. Its early in the race, but he is towards the front of the pack. So watch this guy.

But another thing to watch for is that Lance Mackey is also running a dog from Nadeau lines. It may be a bit watered down from the pure husky lines at this point, but still, I am sure those kodiak traits are shining through after all that intense line breeding. And Lnce Mackey is always in contention to win.

Check out "boycuz" on Lance Mackey's website

Sunday, February 10, 2008

end of civilization dogs

That's the bottom line for me in terms of what kind of dogs I want. If civilization were to end tomorrow and I had to rely on my dogs for survival, transportation, etc, and i had to feed them foods I had to procure in the wild, like fish and game meat what types of dogs would I want? Open sprint hounds? By the same token would registration papers do me any good?

I'd want tough easy keepers with efficient metabolisms that can sleep out in the cold and pull a decent amount of weight over long distances at a moderste speed.

Dogs that fit the bill would be older type alaskan huskies, or siberians or malamutes with good work ethics. I see no reason not to get some different breeds and cross breed them like Will Stger did with his polar huskies, but select for traits associated with traveling in the interior rather than the high arctic.

Denali ranger dogs would fit the bill, just fine.

Making me rethink siberians

Don Schmidt

Here is an interesting article it contains an interview with Don Schmidt, a musher who ran the iditarod with registered siberian huskies last year and who is running the Yukon Quest right now with the same dogs.

Most people run these races with mixed breed alaskan huskies but, there are a few dedicated mushers, who still use registered siberians. But anyway, they all generally get the red lantern. I think its frustrating for most of them.

Here is why I think alaskan husky teams win races:

The selection pressure for breeding a winning race team is intense, but this selection pressure is acting upon greater genetic variation because of the cross breeding.

In addition to this, there are just more alaskan husky kennels out there competing in races. Its a numbers game.

There are a few siberian kennels competing seriously but they don't compete successfully at the highest levels, so if they wanted to only breed race winning stock, they would never breed anything. So even though their standards may be high in terms of their goals, compared to top racing teams they aren't.

What I mean is, alaskan huskies that perfrom like siberians in races aren't bred by top alaskan husky kennels.

Also in a closed gene pool, like siberians have, there will only be so much genetic variation. There is much more genetic variation to draw from with an gene pool open to cross breeding. More culling too though.

Personally, though, I don't want to race. So, producing siberians that can win races over alaskan huskies is not a goal I would ever pursue.

I just want really durable working dogs and I like primitive characteristics. It looks to me based on this Guy's performance that he has really tough durable dogs. They are thick furred and medium boned.

I think over time, what has happened is racing kennels acting with the natural variation in the siberian gene pool, have made choices and selected for racing qualities. Longer legs, lighter bone and lighter coat. Not as exagerated as it is in the cross bred alaskans, but by competing with alaskan huskies, I think they have come to resemble them a little.

Its seems to be the case that there is somthing to be said for siberian huskies in their own right according to the standard as it is written.

Friday, February 01, 2008

More or less sick of the internet.

I would much rather be mushing dogs right now than vicariously reading about mushing on the internet. Plus, I really don't have much to share.