Chinook Breed Magazine - Showsight


By Cheryl Brown

Chinooks The Chinook is truly a breed apart. An American treasure, they have come far since their beginnings on the quiet slopes of a New Hampshire farm some 90 years ago. The breeding of a Greenland Husky bitch, reported to descend from Admiral Peary’s lead- dog, Polaris, to a St. Bernard/Mastiff- type farm-dog produced a litter with 3 solid tawny pups. One pup stood out from the rest, displaying great intelli- gence, courage, work ethic and a gen- tle disposition. Chinook was a tawny dog weighing nearly 100 pounds, with a blocky head and flopped ears – his appearance was distinct. Though char- acteristically different from the other sled dogs on the farm, he was able to successfully reproduce his himself in his offspring. His owner, Arthur T. Walden, was so taken with Chinook and “Chinook’s dogs” that he felt he had created the perfect combination of loving companion and working dog. He named his kennel “Chinook Kennels” and though he continued to import dogs that would become known as Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes, he focused on breeding his Chinooks. Walden was an explorer, author, innkeeper, and most importantly, a sled dog driver. He had learned to

drive dog teams during the Alaskan gold rush. When he returned to his home in New Hampshire, he brought his love for adventure with him. Walden and his dog sled team, with Chinook in lead, were credited with bringing the sport of sled dog racing to New England and founding the New England Sled Dog Club in 1924; the oldest club of its kind still in opera- tion. But Walden and Chinook would play an even bigger role in history than either could have ever imagined. Attracting the attention of Admiral Richard Byrd, Walden was asked to head the Dog Department for Byrd’s first Antarctic Expedition in 1927. Walden and his sixteen Chinook dogs were described by Admiral Byrd as the backbone of the expedition transport. In fact, in 1931, Walden received the Congressional Medal for his part in Byrd’s Antarctic Expeditions. President Hoover went on to declare a Chinook, Paugus, and his owner, as America’s most typical “boy and his dog.” Chinook was so much more than a commanding lead-dog. Chinook’s gen- tle temperament and playful personali-

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ty allowed Byrd to take him to lectures and fund-raising events. Chinook became the signature dog of Byrd’s expeditions. He became the symbol of


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