“Scotty” Allan, Dog Trainer
Winner of All-Alaskan Sweepstakes an old-time resident of Chelan County and well known here
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer of Monday night contained an interesting story regarding “Scotty” Allan, who won the All-Alaskan Sweepstakes dog team race. The story in itself is an interesting one, but is especially so for the fact that “Scotty” lived in this country for several years, making his home in Leavenworth and is very well known in this city. Allan was practically raised by P.D. Sutor, of Burch Flat. The following is the P-I story:
Greatest of all dog drivers in the world, winner of the classic All-Alaskan Sweepstakes dog race at Nome last April, A.A. Allan, “Scotty” Allan, as he is known to friends and all Alaskans, came down from Nome on the St. Croix to spend a well-earned vacation at the exposition. A wiry little Scotchman, standing five feet four and one-half inches is this “Scotty.” At 42 he is as spry as a high school boy, and every pound of the 150, which makes his weight, is filled with an energy which makes the whole a tireless machine.
It was a pleasant greeting that occurred between “Scotty” Allan and Jake Berger, the owner of the team which the former drove over a blizzard-driven trail of 408 miles, last April, to victory, when the St. Croix pulled into her dock. With $8,000 in gold, a cup valued at $2,500, and with the second prize of $2,500 to his credit, which he won with the Berger No. 2, Mr. Berger has been anxiously awaiting full details of the race, having been in Montreal when it was run. When “Scotty” came down the gang plank the dog race was begun and run all over again, and the two men went over every foot of the way until Mr. Berger knew the whole affair as if he had been there in person.
Little Profit for Victor
By the time the two men reached the Butler Annex, where they are registered, Jake Berger found that while his two teams had won and he was $10,000 to the good, much of the money had been expended in purchasing and training dogs during the long winter and that he was just about even with the game. It mattered not, however, for he has a comfortable fortune, a paystreak which has not had the ends tapped as yet, and above all he is a true sportsman.
Ever since his boyhood days in Scotland, Allan says, he has been fond of horses and dogs. He made companions when a lad, and when he came to North Dakota with blooded horses in 1887, he liked the wild free life of the men and animals. He says he loved the range horses just for their wildness. Then he came to Seattle in later years with the Great Northern railway, for all his life he has followed work with a pen, while his pastimes have been with animals. Then came the stampede in 1897 to the Klondike and “Scotty” Allan was the first to go. It was his first sight of dogs working in harness, and from the moment he first looked at them until the present day “Scotty” Allan has always had a string of dogs. Although he is president of the school board at Nome, secretary of the Darling & Dean Hardware company, and an official of several other companies and societies, he will always leave his business cares to enter a racing competition.
“Scotty” Trains the Dogs
When Mr. Berger came out last fall he entrusted his dogs, a score in number, to “Scotty,” leaving a good sized bank account to see that they were properly trained. During the winter the latter tried all the dogs and with the purchase of a few selected animals entered Berger’s two teams. He also did something which was the surprise of everyone in Nome. All winter he kept using a big heavy basket sled in training his team. He was laughed at, but told all that he wanted a sled that would stand any kind of usage. About a half hour before the race he brought out a sled that has never had an equal in the north. Although twelve feet long it weighed but 31 pounds, and a feature of its construction was the use of every D violin string that could be purchased in Nome, which were used for lashing the joints. This spring there was a lack of music owing to this. His dog harness weighed nine ounces per dog, and his whole outfit of muklucks for himself and dogs, blankets for the animals and tugs and other equipment totaled, sleigh included, weighed only 42 pounds.
There were 14 entries in the race. The pick of human racing machinery was selected for the test of endurance, skill in the handling of dogs, and and judgement in the methods of travel. The best dogs of eastern Siberia and Alaska faced the starter’s stand on the ice of the Bering Sea on April 1.
Allan, with Berger’s team, made the 408 miles through a blizzard in 82 hours and 2 minutes, and Blatchford in 82 hours and 18 minutes. The Siberian team, third in the race, made the run in 89 hours.
Cross Breed the Fastest
Mr. Allan says that after years’ experience with dogs he decided that a cross between a setter and the native Alaskan dog proves the best traveler. Each animal for racing purposes should weigh between 70 and 90 pounds.
Mr. Allan has made 17 trips from the interior of Alaska to the coast ports, covering every one that leads to a ship connection and over some of which, in the early days, he had to break trail.
So much does Allan love his dogs that they also have the kindest love for him and it is told that during the race not one of his dogs would lie down until it saw their master retire to his room. Dubby, a dog he has had for ten years and perhaps the best known animal on Seward peninsula, is the constant companion of Allan at all times and although too old to race followed Allan’s team out several miles on the road and when distanced cried and howled for an hour before returning to Nome.
Allan says $4,000 has already been subscribed for next year’s race.
Excerpted from Alaskan Sled Dog Tales, by Helen Hegener, published in May, 2016 by Northern Light Media.