PROLOGUE: TRIBUTE TO A SLED DOG
by Charles E. Gillham, 1965
You conquered the toughest country
Ever created on earth
Where you led, man followed your footsteps,
And the North was given birth.
Brown-eyed, happy and gritty
You slaved, and your only pay
Was dry fish, blubber or muktuk
Thrown on the snow at your sleigh.
Without you, the Great North Country
Would yet be unknown to man
There are insurmountable barriers
That only a dog can span.
Who went to the Pole with Peary?
Who carried the serum to Nome?
who rescued our ship-wrecked sailors,
From the ice-pack, brought them home?
Who traveled the creeks to Dawson,
Hauled the mail and packed out the ore?
Left crimson tracks along the Bering,
Heard Aleutian sea lions roar?
Who struggled, helping his master
On traplines barren and dreary?
Fought polar bears from the caches
Stood guard over those held dear?
Descendant of wolf ancestors –
Tempered by hardship and pain,
Fighting a raw, tough country –
These bred the Husky Dog strain.
[From “Sled dog : and other poems of the North,” by Charles E. Gillham, associate editor of Field & Stream magazine, an outdoor writer and game biologist. In 1934 he transferred to the Canadian Arctic as a Federal waterfowl biologist, and his arctic service resulted in four books, “The Raw North,” “Sled Dog,” “Beyond the Clapping Mountains” and “Medicine Men of Hooper Bay.” He left Alaska in 1945.]