Special to The Labradorian
Dr. Gary Kachanoski got an in-depth history of the Labrador Husky while touring the Northern Light Mushing dog kennels in Happy Valley-Goose Bay on Nov. 17.
The president of Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) was in town holding meetings with various stakeholders including NunatuKavut, who helped arrange the visit to the kennel.
“This is a very interesting and important initiative,” said Dr. Kachanoski of the kennels, which is owned and operated by Scott and Lori Hudson. “Particularly because (Scott and Lori) have a passion for the heritage and culture and for the dogs themselves.”
Dr. Kachanoski was meeting with NunatuKavut to discuss possible partnerships between them and MUN.
Because of the Hudson’s affiliation with NunatuKavut, it was suggested Dr. Kachanoski visit the kennel.
While at the kennel, Hudson explained to Dr. Kachanoski his efforts in trying to get the Labrador Husky recognized as a provincial heritage animal.
“The provincial veterinarian, Dr. Hugh Whitney, is very supportive of what I’m trying to do,” said Hudson. “My future goal overall would be to have the Labrador Husky given recognition under the Canadian Kennel Club, similar to the recognition given to other northern breeds, such as the Canadian Eskimo Dog.”
Hudson outlined the history of the Labrador Husky, explaining that, through his research with various aboriginal groups and speaking with elders, the Thule Inuit brought the dogs with them for travel from the far north. Then, as they were cut off geographically from their former homeland, the dogs eventually evolved into their own breed, even inter-breeding with the local wolf population.
The Labrador Husky is very much different from other, southern breeds, in that they maintain many characteristics of the wolf - Scott Hudson
“The Labrador Husky is very much different from other, southern breeds, in that they maintain many characteristics of the wolf,” noted Hudson.
“For example, there is a very clear hierarchy, with an alpha male and female; they maintain packs; and when the female has pups, she will enclose them in a den and actually regurgitate food for them, which is not something you would see domesticated house dogs do.”
Hudson’s concern for the breed of Labrador Husky stems from the fact that more people are inter-breeding their huskies with more southern husky breeds.
“There is a ‘watering down’ of the breed, so to speak,” said Hudson. “Of the 10 dogs we have at our kennel, seven are purebred Labrador Husky.”
Hudson pointed out he does what he can to maintain as much culture as possible when it comes to raising the dogs.
“I feed them what they would have eaten many years ago, when dog teams were common, such as caribou, seal, etc.,” said Hudson. “I also raced them over the years, and helped organize the Big Land Challenge Dog Sled Race, unfortunately people lost interest in that after seven or so years, and it was discontinued. Races do a lot to keep dog teams sharp.
“Labrador Huskies/dogteams have been in my family for generations and having dogs today keeps me and my children connected to our ancestors and culture as Inuit-Metis.”