Siberian Husky

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Sep 28 05:49:37 UTC 2009

Following up on the "Siberian Tiger".

This is the list for "Siberian husky" from the OED WOD mailing from this

>  > *1930* /Amer. Kennel Gaz./ Jan. 26/1 The Siberian huskies are
recognized as the ideal dogs for driving. /Ibid./ Nov. 73/1 The breed of
dog known as the Siberian Husky has been recognized by the Stud Book
Committee. *1950* J. HAMBLETON /Abitibi Adventure/ 74 In their equipment
was included a two-dog team, made up of Siberian huskies, blue-eyed
beauties trained for generations to pull their hearts out and to survive
the utmost rigors of the north. *1972* /Even. Telegram/ (St. John's,
Newfoundland) 24 June 14/1 Various types of Northern dogs were used
including Siberian Huskies.

This one proved to be trivial to push back right away--a *1921*
biography of Jack London (volume 2, to be precise) already has "Siberian
huskies" in it. [The Book of Jack London, Vol. 2, by Charmian London,
NY, 1921] (Harvard copy, p. 306)

>  > Then he met "Scotty," otherwise Mr. J. H. Scott, champion
dog-musher, with his prize teams of Malemutes and Siberian huskies,
gee-pole sleds and all.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the immediate question is whether
the breed was already referred to as such at the time of the meeting,
*1915*. [This is the date given to the chapter where the huskies are

Wiki cites the 1995 "Siberian Huskies" book in stating,

"Leonhard Seppala, the foremost breeder of Siberian Huskies of the time,
participated in competitions from 1909 to the mid 1920s."

This gives the right timing, but no specifics.

The Handbook of Travel by the Harvard Travelers Club (*1918*), yields,

>  > At the present writing (*1917*) *Siberian "Huskies"* are the
superior dogs for racing in the Alaska Derby.

Cutting off GoogleBooks at 1920, yields only three other sources.

William B.  Stephenson, The Land of Tomorrow (*1919*, p. 106):

>  > When he returned, as some one has already recorded, "Siberian
huskies howled from every port hole."

The other two (!) citations come supposedly from 1912 from YMCA magazine
that is alternately identified as Young Men and Association Men. One
reference is to vols. 37 and 39, the other to vol. 38--all labeled as
1912, each on p. 551. Since GoogleBooks gives only a snippet of the page
(and even then only for the former citation), I could not verify either
the source or the date. It stands to reason that vol. 38 might indeed be
from 1912 and might indeed contain the phrase "Siberian huskies", but I
can't verify it, at the moment.

I found one credible reference in 1913, but it does not use "Siberian".

Alfred E. Smith, New Outlook, p. 700:

>  > The " huskies," or komatik dogs, were ever prowling around, half
wolf and half
dog, to fight and snarl, and eat what they could steal.

I can't verify much about this since the text is not available.

However, there is a 1911 book that can be verified!

Katharine Berry Judson, Myths and Legends of Alaska, (Chicago, printed
*September 1911*) Although there is no actual text that contains the
phrase "Siberian husky" (or "huskies"), between pp. 122-123, there is a
photo captioned *"Siberian Husky"*. From the appearance of the dog, I
doubt that caption is accurate, but the photo that immediately precedes
it shows a sled pulled by dogs from several breeds, including,
undoubtedly, some Siberian huskies. The photo captioned "Siberian Husky"
is tagged with a byline from the Alaska-Yukon Magazine, so the date can
be pushed back at least another year through that publication.

It seems likely that some publications that dealt with the Klondike/Nome
gold rush and dog-sled races back then might push the date back some
time between 1899 and 1910. It's possible that there might even be a
reference going back to the discovery of gold in Alaska a decade
earlier. But I haven't found them.


PS: I found some photos that show huskies going back to 1906, but there
is no indication as to how the dog breeds were being identified at the
time. So 1911 it is, for now.

PS: If anyone wants to pick over periodicals from 1909-1917 for stories
on dog races or sled dogs in Alaska, here's a start (from a more
traditional bibliographic source):

Alaska dog derby, L L Lane, Country Life 32:45-7 S'17
Red River derby, Outlook 115:450 Mr 14 '17
Sandy of Alaska. W A Dyer, Country Life 33:94 D '17
Winnipeg to St. Paul by dog, T. Foster, Outing 69:696-703 Mr '17

The American Dialect Society -

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