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Summer Rant: Kennel Update. Counterfiet Seppalas? AKC Seppalas?

Jonathan Hayes with team of Seppalas in fall training

Kennel Update Summer has been a busy time for us. We are continuing the build on our new 50 acre kennel with a log shelter cabin and a second larger puppy pen in progress. The days are getting shorter and before we know it, we will begin our season conditioning/training runs with the team!

Caleb Hayes, Christian Hayes, Jonathan Hayes, and Joseph Aldrich, building a little shelter cabin in the back 40

There have been a couple hot-button topics in the Seppala world recently that I haven't had the chance to address because of family, church and kennel obligations so I wanted to take a moment to do that now. While this all may be of some interest to the general sled dog fan, these are in house discussions with Seppala breeders, so I will cross post this on the International Seppala Siberian Sleddog Club Facebook page. AKC Seppalas? First, I want to address the recent buzz about what it would take to get our breed recognized by the American Kennel Club. While I would not classify myself as opposed to seeking acceptance by the AKC, it should not, in my opinion, be a high priority for us as a breed club. Here are my thoughts: - The American Kennel Club does not have performance requirements for their working breeds. And while breeding for confirmation does not rule out good performance- it has certainly been to the detriment of a great many working breeds in the past. Form naturally follows function. Function does not necessarily follow proper form. Or, as we would say in the south- "Pretty is, is pretty does." -The Seppala Siberian Sleddog Already has a breed registry- The Continental Kennel Club. This partnership has allowed us to maintain performance standards and address issues surrounding the Coefficient of Inbreeding- Inclusion in the AKC would prohibit such needed action. - I would suggest that, if we ever want to get recognition by the AKC, that the first thing we need to do is stop registering our Seppalas with them as Siberians- that only serves to further the mainstream Siberian Husky narrative that we are only a strain. We should invest our efforts into the CKC where we can resolve our genetic bottleneck once and for all through a rigorous breeding program and continue "field test proving" our teams. Only after we have established our breed as a genetically healthy- and ensured its work ethic within the CKC, should we consider seeking such restrictive confines as AKC recognition.

Poland Spring Seppalas on a 30 mile training run in a whiteout on Long Lake in the Northwoods of Maine.

Counterfeit Seppalas. The other issue I wanted to address is the continued use of the "Seppala Siberian" label by Siberian Husky breeders- one prominent one in particular- in order to bolster puppy sales. For more than a year I have tip-toed around this- blogging about how buyers must take responsibility in doing their homework and asking to see pedigrees and CKC Seppala Registries. But the issue has not gone away. It has gotten worse. Mostly because I want to avoid social media online flame wars whenever possible. Another reason I have avoided calling this particular kennel out- is because I think this kennel has good dogs, and the kennel owner seems, to me, to be a nice guy. But it doesn't excuse the continued false advertising. And to answer the question I see getting bounced around often by his supporters; yes I have spoken with him directly. Early in the conversation he called his dogs Seppalas, until I started asking where he got his Seppalas from and told him who I was. He then quickly backpedaled and said his Siberians were "Seppala in type." Despite this backup, he continues publicly to claim that his are "the closest to the original Seppala as possible." This statement cant be left unaddressed. It is a kick in the gut and an insult to those of us who have carried on the torch from Willet, Bragg, Wheeler, McFaul, Sheerer, and Seppala. Kennels like Deer Creek, Evergreen, Gatineau, Gealoch Mor, Arcticpac, EverSepp, Seppfire, Flaming Arrow, New Hope, Poland Spring and many others that have done the difficult work of preserving this breed when it would have been so much easier to go with racing Siberians or Alaskans. This past winter I was asked to give a talk on my expedition at the 100 Mile Wilderness Race. Imagine my excitement when I was told that ours was not the only Seppala Team at the race that weekend. There was a New Zealand Seppala team in the race as well. I raced around trying to find contact information for the musher. I know Seppalas have gone to the UK, and Finland and Norway- I truly hoped this was a line of Seppalas that would provide new breeding options for both himself and me. When I finally reached this musher, I asked him where he bought his team of Seppalas. His answer was the name of the very kennel I speak of here. Here again is my frustration- This fine New Zealand musher had a great team of beautiful Siberians. The team stood on its own merit. There was no need to further "upsell'' by misleading this buyer into thinking he had purchased a Seppala team. While I haven't been in the Seppala forums much lately, I stopped in enough to see that others are now hotly debating this. And even now, I pull back from naming names. I really don't want a flame war. Especially with someone who has a good breeding program of good working Siberians. But what I do want is to see Siberian breeders stop duping unsuspecting buyers. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but we in the Seppala breed club are not flattered. But the counterfeit does speak to the original. There is a real Seppala Siberian Sleddog breed, it has its own breed club and it is recognized by the Continental Kennel Club. I am sorry there are so few. It is not by design. Contrary to popular opinion, it is not our desire to keep good, ethical, working kennels from having them. But what most don't realize is that flooding the market with mislabeled Siberians only hurts the breed's prospects of survival- so please stop. Or better yet, reach out and join the effort. To this particular kennel I will say, reach out! Let me help you get real Seppalas in your kennel. Give me a reason to take this article down. The only- i repeat- only unethical thing I've seen you do is mislabel your Siberians. You've got great dogs. Please, breed your Siberians. Or join the cause of preserving the Seppala. The ISSSC is committed to a "Big Tent '' whenever possible. If you have an ethical breeding program and a reputable kennel, we want you on our team. We are looking for judicious outcrosses as we seek to close the chapter in the book on genetic depth. Perhaps you have a good candidate in your kennel to add to the mix and breed back up to acceptable Seppala percentages. But right now- you're not helping. You are hurting the breed. And I don't think that is what you want. Long rant over- I guess I shouldn't let these issues get pent up so long! I think I've said all I can say here. Thanks for taking the time to read! I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

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