Sled Dogs
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Sled Dogs – Siberian Huskies

Sled Dogs have been a life-long passion for me, Gabrielle. I was only eight, when I read a children’s book about the sled dog serum race to Nome in Alaska 1925. These heroic sled dogs and dog mushers saved the lives of children from diphtheria in Nome, struggling through snow blizzards and crossing hazardous sea ice to bring forward the serum. From then on my dream was always to have my sled dog team of Siberian Huskies. Step by step from the age of 14, I managed to realise that dream. In 1984, I got my first Siberian Husky, a male called Tarraq (Greenlandic for ‘shadow’). Unfortunately, Tarraq showed absolutely no interest in pulling a sled or anything else for that matter. Hence, in search of a second Siberian Husky I started looking into the blood lines and chose a female from the best working blood lines in Denmark at the time, Kennel Yokon by Lis & Axel Vermehren. This female, Toesja was entirely different and a very dedicated sled dog and lead dog on top of it. She was a really clever dog and was the alpha dog of the pack her entire life to the age of 11, and did an excellent job in creating stability in the pack. Thank God, I got this dog!

Gabrielle Stockmann
Gabrielle with her dog team in Sweden. Photo: Lars T. Christensen

The next big step in my sled dog career arrived when I managed to get hold of older, experienced sled dogs. These dogs trained both me and the younger, not so experienced, dogs in how to behave on a sled dog team. Finally, the dogs were moving in the direction I wanted them to and responding to the commands, gee and haw and hoooh/hooolde. These are international commands for the dogs to turn right, left or stop, respectively.

 

The probably best investment I ever did was when I got the chance to buy three Siberian Huskies from Ingvar de Forest, kennel Snowtrails in Sweden. These three dogs, Sandra, Jack Pot and Wayne changed the social network of the pack, and Sandra and Jack Pot were excellent sled dogs. Sandra was in fact one of my absolute best sled dogs ever, and became my primary female for breeding. Just like Sandra, Jack Pot and Wayne, their offspring were super social with very nice temperaments – on top of being good sled dogs.

 

Over the years from 1984 to 2005, I had approximately 65 Siberian Huskies in my custody including seven litters. My main breeding lines were the Snowtrail dogs combined with Alka-Shan dogs from Anneliese Braun-Witschel and Trinity Kennel’s dogs from Petra Nölle in Germany. I did a lot of sled dog competitions over the years, both in Denmark, Sweden and the Alps. For training, I would train 8-10 dog teams and for competitions, I would mainly participate in the sprint 6-dog or in the velo class (mountain bike). The beginning of my sled dog career was tough, but the sled dogs I had at the end of my own breeding, I’m extremely proud of. They were strong dogs, well built and most of them with very nice social temperaments. Should I highlight a few besides the above-mentioned dogs, then it would have to be Jarvik’s Czardas (daughter of Sandra), and Jarvik’s Takhini, Tana, and Triton (children of Czardas), Amber, Aslak and Luffe (my A-litter), Donjek Vindsor (excellent lead dog), Jarvik’s Zenith and Zoé (children of Sandra), Jarvik’s Viljar, Vanja, and Vega (children of Toesja and Jack Pot) and my all-time joker and most funniest dog of them all, Anartjok’s Frosty.

 

One of the best outcome of my 20-year long sled dog career is the friendship to so many of my ‘old’ sled dog friends. Some of them are still active sled dog drivers, whereas others like me have left that world, but not the love for sled dogs.

 

The Siberian Husky Kennel Jarvik was run together with my mother, Marlous Stockmann from 1984 to 1998, mainly from our home on Birkholm in Gundsømagle, Roskilde, and from 1998 to 2004 together with my ex-husband Lars Teken Christensen after he returned from a military career in Greenland. We first lived in Fuglebjerg, Denmark and later on moved to Björka in Southern Sweden. After our divorce in 2004, the majority of dogs were handed over to sled dog friends and the kennel finally closed in 2005. An altogether both tough and magical life I would never have wanted to be without!

NB! The Smooth Collies are described on the About page.

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Recommended reading and movies:

  1. Seymour Reit: Race Against Death: A True Story of the far North (1976)
  2. Gay Salisbury and Laney Salisbury: The Cruelest Miles: The Heroic Story of Dogs and Men in a Race Against an Epidemic (2005)
  3. Togo (2019) by Walt Disney Pictures with Willem Dafoe, Nive Nielsen and others.