An Unlikely Dog Sled Team

Does the name, Yukon Cornelius, mean anything to you?

Some of you reading this may have known Yukon long before you owned a purebred dog, and one wonders if Yukon’s sled team subliminally influenced any of the young people who watched him….

Yukon is a character from the 1964 television special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the longest continuously running Christmas TV special of all time.  Yukon is a blustery, pick-ax licking prospector, and the first adult that Rudolph, the reindeer, encounters after he has been expelled for having a glowing red nose. The plot is more complicated, of course, and it involves the Island of Misfit Toys, King Moonracer, a winged lion, the Abominable Snow Monster, and other marvelous characters, but we think Yukon is a favorite for his marvelous taste in sled dogs (if not fancifully unrealistic).

A glimpse of Yukon below:

Lest anyone wonder about Yukon’s proclivity for licking that pick axe, it is something that he does throughout the special; he tosses his axe into the air, then sniffs and licks the working end of it. Most of the time, he mutters, “nothing” after he tastes it, and viewers are led to believe that he’s searching for silver or gold. In fact, Yukon is searching for peppermint, and (spoiler alert), he does ultimately discover a “peppermint mine” near Santa’s workshop.

The movie is a stop motion animation film, a laborious filmmaking technique in which characters, objects, and scenery are physically manipulated in tiny increments between individually photographed frames so that they appear to have independent motion or change when the series of frames is played back. It took a staggering 24 frames to create just one second of filmed animation for this show. The movie generated action figures of Yukon and his dog team, and boxed sets can be found on sites like Ebay. As for Santa and Rudolph, in 2006, the original Rudolph and Santa figures were featured in an episode of Antiques Roadshow and pre-renovation, they were valued at $8,000-$10,000.

Our interest in Yukon centers on his sled dog team which is comprised of a Saint Bernard, a Dachshund, a Cocker Spaniel, a Toy Poodle and a Beagle. We never did find why those particular breeds were chosen, but it’s speculation on our part that because they were chosen because they were popular breeds in the 60s.

One more glimpse of Yukon and his dogs:

Image of Yukon sled dog team pulling under northern lights by PiLensPhoto/Adobe Stock Photo


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