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Seppala History Vignette - Cold River

A Scion White as Snow: Jeuahnee of Cold River

In the world of dog breeding, bloodlines come and go. Many of them never contribute to a broader whole at all, dying out when a kennel or breeder leaves the breed. Some contribute only in minor ways. Others still are absorbed by an unrelated breeding philosophy - surviving, but without their establishing principles carrying on with them. Cold River Kennels of Marie “Millie” Turner and her mother Marie Lee Frothingham gave way to one Siberian bloodline with an interesting tale to tell - if you enjoy humoring that sort of thing. A single, snow-white male dog from Cold River breeding would have an influence on Seppala Siberian Sleddog lineage, unique among the eventual fates of many other Cold River names in pedigrees. Like many early dogs, his lasting impact would likely have been lost to time if it were not for the efforts of dedicated breeders, and the efforts of historians to understand the names in pedigree charts as something more.

Cold River and the Seppala Siberian Lineage

The operations of Cold River Kennels were based in North Sandwich, New Hampshire, during the early part of Siberian sled dog history in the “Lower 48”. Millie drove the kennel’s second-string team (with some notable success), and the first-string was driven by a professional musher, Donald ‘Don’ Shaw. Looking through pedigrees between 1930 and 1950, it is easy to see that Cold River itself ended up with the same philosophy that Harry Wheeler did; using exclusively dogs descended entirely from Leonhard Seppala sources at the Poland Spring kennel, usually acquiring them from Wheeler himself. Dogs from Cold River and the kennels of Alex and Charles Belford were also exchanged frequently, at least as members of racing teams. No ‘Alyeska’, ‘Chinook’, ‘Wonalancet’, or ‘Suzanne’ dog names appear in the breedings at Cold River, though that stock would have been readily available in New England during the 1930s and 40s. In its early stages, Cold River did make purchases of ‘Northern Light’ dogs from the kennels and breeding of Julien Hurley and Oliver Shattuck, but these are not present in registered Cold River pedigrees. As late as 1940, a news clipping with Millie Turner and her leader ‘Vanka of Seppala II’ (callname ‘Cossack’ and a son of the import ‘Kreevanka’) features the use of the term “Seppala Siberians” to describe the Cold River team, rather than Siberian Huskies despite the breed having then been recognized by the AKC for a decade. All of this goes to show that Cold River in its time, was a dedicated steward of the Seppala Siberian legacy in its undiluted form.

Cold River dogs named as "Seppala Siberians", 1940, a decade after AKC recognition of the "Siberian Husky"

As with many kennels however, time and human nature eventually took their toll on Cold River and its branch of Seppala lineage. Millie became a well-known animal artist after moving away from home, and future hired drivers made up the remainder of the hands-on involvement with the kennel’s dog-driving. Eventually, upon selling out the kennel, Marie sold some of the remaining Cold River stock to her final professional driver Peggy Grant. Although Grant continued to run sleddogs for a time, she eventually was injured in an accident and ceased direct involvement in the sport. Her personal breeding choices with the Cold River stock she acquired were situated firmly in the direction of cross-breeding with Eva Seeley-derived bloodlines to produce dogs for the Grant’s Marlytuk show lines. The stunning variation in appearance of the early Cold River stock, with many piebald, pure white, and splash-coated dogs disappeared soon into the Marlytuk era, suggesting that show ring trends and cosmetics may have become major influences on breeding choices. Still, Cold River bred dogs went on to make a mark on the race trail even after the kennel closed. The famous ‘Doc’ Roland Lombard leader ‘Ch. Helen of Cold River’ (Vanka of Seppala II X Sky of Seppala) was trained for Search and Rescue work during WWII, and came back to become a strong racing leader for Lombard again afterward, despite her size (she was noted to be large for a Siberian female). ‘Duchess of Cold River’, her littermate sister, also served as a racing leader for Bill Belletete. Make no mistake about it - these and other Cold River dogs became instrumental in many other kennels and bloodlines! But all were bred to mates of Chinook/Eva Seeley-derived lineage, and contributed no further to the unique Seppala breeding philosophy that Cold River had held to. All, except for one.

The Markovo Bottleneck and Foxstand Influence

By 1970, the unique Wheeler/Shearer/Gagnon/Bryar/McFaul Seppala Siberian lineage was in trouble. Additionally, the Seppala-derived Cold River bloodline without influence from Chinook Kennels’ foundation matings and their later show-focused breeding had all but vanished. That is, it would have, had it not been for a single, decades now deceased male deep in the pedigrees of several remaining McFaul-derived and MacDougal dogs at that time. The dog in question was a gorgeous, long-haired pure white dog by the name of ‘Jeuahnee of Cold River’. Sired by ‘Sapsuk of Seppala’ and birthed in 1939 by the prolific broodbitch ‘Sky of Seppala’, ‘Jeuahnee’ was a half-brother to the famous “Helen” and “Duchess”. In the mid 1940s, Bill Shearer of Foxstand Kennels had used ‘Jeuahnee’ at stud, to his second-generation foundation female, ‘Foxstand’s Sukey’. On June 11th, 1947, ‘Sukey’ whelped the litter which produced Shearer’s next mainstay leader, ‘Foxstand’s Shamus’, a piebald white and gray dog, who was a long-coat like his sire - perhaps fitting for Shearer, who was said to have liked long-haired Siberians. Also in this litter was his sister ‘Foxstand’s Sherry’. ‘Sherry’, though not a leader by any historical record, would go on to become an important broodbitch for Foxstand kennels - as well as the only offspring of any Cold River dog to survive in Seppala-lineage pedigrees up through the 1970s Markovo and Seppineau breeding programs, her brother Shamus’ bloodline eventually ending up only with mixed-lineage matings.

William "Bill" Shearer with his 1950s leader ‘Foxstand’s Shamus’, son of ‘Jeuahnee of Cold River’ and littermate brother to ‘Foxstand’s Sherry’

When J. Jeffrey Bragg, along with Gary Egelston, set about to preserve the Seppala lineage, using the few remaining pure representatives to be found, only ‘Foxstand's Sherry’, now as many as 7 or 8 generations past, provided a link to the Cold River name with her presence deep in the ancestry of ‘Malamak’s Okleasik’, the sisters ‘Lyl of Sepsequel’ and ‘Moka of Sepsequel’, and ‘Frostfire Anisette’. All of these were crucial second-foundation dogs for Seppala Siberians into the latter half of the 20th century, playing important roles in saving the lineage from dying out, and all carrying a small piece of ‘Jeuahnee’ with them through his Foxstand daughter.

Influence of 'Jeuahnee of Cold River' on Markovo-Seppala Pedigrees:

  • LYL OF SEPSEQUEL (through Foxstand's Sherry)

  • FROSTFIRE ANISETTE (through Foxstand’s Sherry)

  • MOKA OF SEPSEQUEL (through Foxstand’s Sherry)

  • MALAMAK'S OKLEASIK (through Foxstand’s Sherry)

As time has gone on, the introduction of Racing Siberian Husky bloodlines as outcrosses to the Seppala Siberian Sleddog has doubtlessly added other Cold River influences, though present through faint echoes and whispers many generations ago. Those same Cold River influences have made significant impact on many other racing and show bloodlines, too. Credit for the direct Cold River contribution to Markovo-Seppala lineage, however, and to the core Seppala bloodlines emphasized up until today, belongs alone to ‘Jeuahnee of Cold River’. All of these historical facts and ramblings have a lesson to teach as well, for those of us who look with love and devotion to the study of dog ancestry, purebred or otherwise. We would do well not to underestimate the influence of a single animal - nor to overestimate the influence and lasting power of a spectacular bloodline on others, if it is not carefully looked after and stewarded. This lesson, hidden in the pedigrees of these dogs long gone and now present through only a single member of a single litter, is relevant to more than just those involved in Seppalas. It has implications for anyone who considers themselves a preservationist; either in action, or in words.

‘Powder of Markovo’, b. August 29, 1982, a descendant of ‘Jeuahnee of Cold River’ through her ancestors ‘Lyl of Sepsequel’ and ‘Frostfire Anisette’. Powder is a titanic influence in the pedigrees of Seppalas alive today.

(This article was published on June 11th, 2023 - the 76th birthday of ‘Foxstand’s Sherry’, the sole offspring of ‘Jeuahnee of Cold River’ to pass on his Cold River legacy to Seppala bloodlines).

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