The 17th of this month marked the 102nd birthday of a very special dog for whom an entire breed was named. That dog was Chinook. Any mention of Chinook, however, must also include his developer, Arthur Treadwell Walden.
An adventurer at heart, Walden was part of the Klondike Gold Rush where he learned “dog punching,” or hauling freight pulled on a sled by a dog team. The skill would eventually lead to his participation in the first Byrd Antarctic Expedition, but even while he was still in Alaska, he grew frustrated with the dogs pulling his sleds. He did, however, remember one dog that made his heart race (no pun intended), an Eskimo dog named “Chinook.”
When Walden returned to New England, he set out to create a dog like Chinook (named “Chinook” after the warm winter winds), a dog that was gentle, powerful, fast – and loaded with stamina. In 1917, Walden stuck gold (no pun intended) when the mating of a direct descendent of Admiral Peary’s lead dog, a Greenland Husky named, “Polaris,” in 1917 with a mastiff type male named “Kim” resulted in three puppies, Rikki, Tikki and Tavi (after the mongoose in Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book). One of these pups was eventually renamed “Chinook” for the sled dog Walden never forgot. This dog was the foundation of the Chinook breed to which all of today’s Chinooks are related.
Image: Hand carved and hand painted Chinook on wood by DallasModern. Find the piece here.