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Eva Seeley Paul Voelker Robert Zoller
The Third Strain The First Lines Malamute History

 

Eva Brunelle Seeley - "Short"

 

Seeley with a Siberian Husky

 

Eva, Gripp, Finn and Kearsage of Yukon

 

Rowdy of Nome

 

Yukon Jad

 

Ch. Gripp Of Yukon

 

Finn e Kearsage of Yukon

THE MOTHER OF THE ALASKAN MALAMUTE

Eva Brunelle Seeley, nicknamed "Short" for her height, is often considered "the mother of the Alaskan Malamute". Mrs. Eva Seeley has been equally influential for the development and recognition of the Siberian Husky, and perhaps that's why she is considered as a giant (in spite of her height) in the field of Northern Breeds in general and of sled dogs in particular.
Born in Worchester, Massachussetts, 19??, she developed an interest in sled dogs through her friendship with Arthur T. Walden, a famous explorer, writer, breeder and musher. In 1923, when she was commissioned to organize a winter carnival in her town, Worchester, Eva Seeley asked Arthur Walden to give a sleddog demonstration as the main attraction of the feast. Walden agreed and during the carnival Eva Seeley had an opportunity to lead a team herself. This experience was so exciting that Eva's course of life would utterly change.
In 1924 Eva Seeley (then Brunelle) and Milton Seeley got married and spent their honeymoon at Arthur Walden's inn. The friendship between Walden and the Seeleys went on and a few years later, when Walden was preparing an expedition to Antarctica with Admiral Richard Byrd, he convinced the Seeleys to run his Chinook kennel at Wonalancet, New Hampshire, during his absence. The Seeleys agreed and the couple dedicated themselves to the world of sled dogs with increasing passion. Eva "Short" Seeley soon became a skilled musher and trainer of a sleddog team of her own.
During Byrd's expedition, the Great Depression struck America and the financial situation was so bad that Arthur Walden's wife, Kate, had no other choice but sell the Chinook dogs to the Seeleys. Thus, all the dogs Walden had set off with on his expedition and the name of the "Chinook" kennel passed to the Seeleys. To escape the Great Depression, the Seeleys took part in trade activities. They moved the Chinook kennel to a land of 200 acres and started to advertise their dogs as Dogtown Village, proposing sleddog laps to tourists and capitalizing the profits in polar expeditions.
During the arrangements for Admiral Byrd's expedition to Antarctica, a good number of dogs had been brought to the Chinook kennels to be trained and selected. Chinook sixteen dogs were not enough for the expedition, so more dogs were acquired from Labrador and Alaska. Among the arrivals was a big male with a thick wolf grey coat and a beautiful tail like a plume. His name was Rowdy Of Nome and he had been brought by "Scotty Allen", a famous sleddog musher.
Allen had bought Rowdy Of Nome in Alaska and, enthusiastic about the gentle nature of the dog, he kept Rowdy with himself. He told Eva Seeley that, in his opinion, Rowdy was the ideal representative of Alaskan sled dogs. Eva Seeley was captivated by Rowdy's beauty: he was very different from the dogs she had seen so far. Rowdy was bigger than a Siberian Husky, he weighed about 80 pounds, while he looked just like a wolf, but had a very sweet disposition.
When Byrd's Expedition left, Eva Seeley began to search for more specimens of that kind of bigger sled dogs and in Elizabeth Ricker's kennels, called Poland Springs, in Maine, she met a dog called Yukon Jad, who had been imported from Yukon to Canada.
Leonhard Seppala was breeding Siberian Huskies at Mrs. Ricker's kennels. He was more interested in smaller sled dogs, who were more suited for racing. It was Seppala who gave the Seeleys Yukon Jad, who had become famous after the 1925 heroic serum run to Nome. Like Rowdy Of Nome, Jad was a big, strong dog of a wolf grey colour, his ears were straight and his tail was carried over his back like a plume.
The Seeleys found a suitable mate for Yukon Jad called Bessie, who had been given them by Walden. Bessie's ancestors were unknown, even though Eva Seeley once referred to her as an Groenlanded dog ("Kit Kirby's Interview to Eva Seeley", Alaskan Malamute Annual, 1981). According to Eva Seeley, Bessie had a rougher coat than a Siberian Husky and he had a "wide head, erect ears and an excellent racket snow foot" ("Kit Kirby's Interview to Eva Seeley", Alaskan Malamute Annual, 1981). Bessie was crossed with Yukon Jad and on the first days of 1929 Seeley's first litter of Alaskan Malamutes was whelped - four remarkably similar puppies. They were called Tugg Of Yukon, Gripp Of Yukon, Finn Of Yukon and Kearsarge Of Yukon. The Seeleys soon developed a uniform strain of dogs. This was accomplished thanks to accurate interbreeding and by choosing dogs of similar looks only. In order to preserve the original function of the breed, i.e. work dogs, the Seeleys used specimens that had taken part in the various expeditions and whose skills had been ascertained.
Eva Seeley turned to the American Kennel Club (AKC) to have her dogs officially recognized. The AKC would accord recognition provisionally. There must be the necessary conditions: a number of dogs of sufficient quality and uniform features were to be shown in mixed class till it was possible to have such a number of them as to grant the continuity of the breed. Seeley and the other breeders of northern breeds agreed to the condition and began showing Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies and Samoyeds in some of the most prestigious shows of the country. In 1935 the registration of the Alaskan Malamutes with at least two generations in their pedigrees was started and Rowdy of Nome was the first Malamute to be registered. Registration was granted even to dogs with unknown ancestors, provided they got points in conformation shows.
Shows, anyway, were not Eva Seeley's priority. Her breeding program was mainly based on the selection of work dogs for expeditions. In fact she was carrying out two kinds of selection at the same time, one to produce work dogs, including crossbred dogs, the other to develop the Alaskan Malamute pure breed. After a few years, the Seeleys decided to adopt the name "Kotzebue" for their kennels. The original name "Chinook" was not abandoned, though, and it was used as a suffix, for example in the case of Kotzebue Panuck Of Chinook.
Every Alaskan Malamute that was registered before 1950 was a Kotzebue, or a descendant of the Kotzebues. During this period, however, a lot of other dogs, not registered at the AKC, were defined Alaskan Malamutes by their owners and breeders. Roughly at the same time, while the Seeleys were acquiring dogs for their kennel of Alaskan Malamutes in New Hampshire, a man called Paul Voelker was similarly operating for his kennel in Marquette, Michigan, known as M.Loot Kennels. Together with the Kotzebues, the M'Loots and the Hinman-Irwin dogs are the basis and the foundation of the breed.
When the Alaskan Malamute Club of America (AMCA) became a member of the AKC in 1953, Eva Seeley became its first president. She was officially bestowed the title of AKC judge. Her merits are many; she was the owner and breeder of the first Malamute to become an AKC champion (Gripp Of Yukon, in 1936), as well as the owner of the first Alaskan Malamute to be registered (Rowdy Of Nome). Eva "Short" Seeley became famous also for the demonstration given with her sled dogs at the Olimpic Games of Lake Placid in 1932, an event that helped to promote the popularity of Alaskan Malamutes and other sled dogs.
When Eva Seeleys died in 1985, Carol Williams, who had been collaborating with her for years, took over the Kotzebue line. Her dogs are pure Kotzebues and have Heritage and Chinook as their kennel name, as in the case of Heritage's Kotzebue Dakota. The other kennels that bred or are breeding pure Kotzebues are Sno-Pak, of Arthur e Natalie Hodgen, and Tigara, founded by D.C. and Dorothy Dillingham, now owned by Samuel Walden (Arthur Walden's nephew).
The mingling of Kotzebues, M'Loots, Hinman-Irwins e Husky Paks, the selection that has been mostly successful, is going on today and has dimmed the differences among the original strains; Eva Seeley's legacy, however, shall be remembered forever. Thanks to her dedication, the Alaskan Malamute was officially recognized as a breed and successfully presented at shows. Yet, Eva B. Seeley's most relevant contribution to the development of the breed perhaps lies elsewhere, that is, in her love for sled racing. As a breeder, as well as a professional musher of sled dogs, she offered all modern breeders a standard and a model, showing how the best show dogs are also skilful workers on a trail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Reference:
Barbara A. Brooks e Sherry E. Wallis, "Alaskan Malamute - Yesterday and Today", Alpine, 1998.
"Kit Kirby's Interview to Eva Seeley", Alaskan Malamute Annual, 1981.
Joan McDonald Brearley, This is the Alaskan Malamute, T.F.H., 1975.