Reading between the lines

Reading between the lines Re the December 24 article on the Tahltan bear dog line by John Thompson: I did not say in my ad of pups for sale that I was selling purebred dogs. I said they were of that line. That in no way means I was selling them as being

Re the December 24 article on the Tahltan bear dog line by John Thompson:

I did not say in my ad of pups for sale that I was selling purebred dogs. I said they were of that line. That in no way means I was selling them as being registered with the Canadian Kennel Club.

So, what part of bloodlines coming from dogs living in Telegraph Creek (Tahltan country) and chasing bears and having the size, temperament and many of the traits of the Tahltan bear dogs means they are not closely related to them, eh?

Just because the so-called experts say there is no remnant of these dogs does not make it so.

Art Johns and Elaine Ash, of Tagish, were trying hard to find enough breeding stock to try to strengthen the so-called extinct bloodlines. And so have a few others in northern BC, the Yukon and Oregon.

I do not say these present dogs are purebreds nor are they registered with the Canadian Kennel Club, but I do say that they have many of the traits and looks of the original Tahltan dogs from the Telegraph, Iskut and coastal areas. Some of these pups look like they will even have the famous flag tails.

When there is a bear around, our dogs go after them and either tree them or chase them out of the area. We have proven this with our dogs many times. Kim Laflamme, of Oregon’s Song Dog Kennels, has been breeding the American Indian dogs for more than 40 years. He says in the ‘70s he owned some Tahltan bear dogs, which he did not have registered with the kennel clubs because he did not agree with them on certain issues. This does not mean that because they were not registered that they were not what he says they were. If a woman has a baby without a father’s name on the certificate it does not mean that child does not have a father. That would be silly.

My husband, the late Wilfred Charlie, ran sled dogs for most of his life, starting out with dogs his father gave him before the days of most of the roads.

He ran a team of wolf dogs and miscellaneous dogs, which he selected from pups with certain traits and parentage. He set a world record with these dogs. None were from any particular recognized breed, but they were definitely great sled dogs nonetheless.

The male dog I have, which is the grandfather of the pups we are selling (my daughter Cindy owns the parents), was sired by a dog owned by Jack and Millie Pauls, of Telegraph Creek, BC. Jack told me that his dog was five-eighths Tahltan bear dog. He did not say it was pure either, as the article in the Yukon News by John Thompson in the December 24th’s paper seemed to imply.

The mother of the pups is from Elaine Ash of Tagish, from their breeding program.

I have done some research as I too am a historian of sorts, and in the archival pictures I found old photos, one from late 1800 or early 1900, with small black-and-tan as well as small white-with-black-ears dogs with a head that looked like here might be a Karelian connection.

This colour may be from the dogs owned by Russian traders as the Karelian bear dogs come from a province in Russia by that name.

If this was the case, then the American Indian dogs traded into the northern BC area from First Nation trading partners from the east, and the Karelian bear dogs from the Russian traders may have brought about the bear dogs’ traits common to that area. I do not know for sure.

For years, because of a discovery of human remains in Oldivi Gorge in Africa it was believed that this was the origin of the oldest humans on earth. Yesterday I was watching Discovery Channel and guess what? Human remains recently discovered in Israel may yet be older than the ones from Africa.

I mention this because as new evidence comes to life, old ideas go out the window.

If I had the money and the inclination, I would get Kim Laflamme’s dogs’ and my dogs’ DNA tested to see how close we are to each other.

The picture he sent me recently of his dog looks almost the same as the parents of the pups we are selling.

I would say that charging for pups that will grow up protecting me, and that will keep my children and grandchildren safe, is well worth the investment, even if they do not have “official papers to prove it.”

We tried just giving pups away, but a lot of people did not take good care of them, so we wanted to make sure that people were serious about caring for their dogs and, perhaps, try to keep this line going.

I am getting old and do not plan on raising any more puppies. I am sending my male dog, which, by the way, follows some of the colouring of the American Indian dog line, down to Oregon to Song Dog Kennels to keep the line going.

LaFlamme has tracked relatives of my dog and is fairly confident they are close to the original lines.

This last litter of my male’s grandchildren will probably be the last from our dogs. My daughter is trying to raise money to go to university Ð that’s why she’s selling them.

In the news the other day, a lady from China bought a Tibetan mastiff for somewhere around $600,000 Ð a record amount for a dog.

The Tahltan bear dog was only one of six breeds from Canada, so why are we not trying to keep the bloodlines going?

This breed, as far as I know, is the only one accredited to a First Nation group in Canada, so why are we trying to wipe out all remnants of that breed instead of trying to revive them?

After five generations, these dogs could be renamed and registered as a new breed with the famous Canadian Kennel Club.

But I would not want to be the one to remove the connection to the location of their origins.

If anyone from the Tahltan First Nation is interested in keeping their heritage alive, then contact me in Carmacks.

I contacted LaFlamme at Song Dog Kennels.

He replied: “If you could maybe make it a little clearer in your comeback article, that is just what we are doing with the American Indian dog breed Ð saving all the lines that could not be saved themselves alone. This is what we did years ago and are still doing with all the types that don’t have enough healthy variable bloodlines to save as an individual breed; as your lines, and the few that are left are all related. That’s what the (American Indian) dog breed is; combinations of all the Indian dog types put together … that’s pretty much what they all were and still are today, within the American Indian dog breed.

“For an example, I have a crocked tail in my latest litter of pups and will probably keep it for future breeding. Even what they called elk dogs here in Oregon were probably dogs traded from the Yukon areas, as groups migrated south or travelled to gatherings down the West Coast Ð they had some with short tails also here in Oregon, proving they were related.

“Actually we have done, and still are doing DNA testing. And we already have similar markers showing they are all related in North and South America. We have an unidentified marker that doesn’t match any of the modern breeds and connects all the dogs together in the New World.”

I think as northern residents of Canada we should be proud we are making an attempt to maintain these bloodlines and promoting the saving of these extremely rare dogs.

Hey, maybe I should send this article to that lady in China.

Dawn Charlie


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