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New Hampshire chinook breaks a new trail at Westminster Kennel Club show

Strawbery Banke site of Feb 16 dog-sledding event.
Strawbery Banke site of Feb 16 dog-sledding event.
ST Seacord

Schoolchildren from Bedford, New Hampshire recognized in 2009 what the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club’s famous Dog Show finally realized in 2014: that the Chinook is a distinct and historic breed, with a long and tradition-filled pedigree that includes such names as Admiral Robert Peary.

Recognized with its own class at the 138th Westminster Kennel Club classic at Madison Square Garden the second weekend in February, the Chinook is a New Hampshire bred dog descended from “Chinook” bred from a mastiff and Admiral Robert Peary’s husky “Polaris” by Arthur Walden of Tamworth NH. Walden sought to create a dog that would strong and agile in a dogsled team and friendly enough to be a good family pet. In 1928, Chinook and 13 of his sons accompanied Peary on hid expedition to Antarctica. Perry wrote, “Walden used him as a kind of ‘shock troop,’ throwing him into harness when the going turned very hard.” After Walden, in 1940 Perry Greene of Waldoboro, Maine was entrusted with carrying on the lineage that today includes about 800 dogs.

The breed became New Hampshire’s official dog thanks to the efforts of Bedford children who championed the legislation signed into law on February 5, 2009.

There are many places in New Hampshire where visitors can get a feel for the rich dog-sledding traditions of New Hampshire – including Strawbery Banke Museum which will host a dog-sledding event on February 16 during the 2014 1st Annual Portsmouth Fire + Ice Festival. Guests at The Hanover Inn Dartmouth can arrange for dog-sled rides at the nearby Great River Outfitters through the Front Desk. The New England Sled Dog Club, founded in 1924 for races that Walden and Chinook regularly won, still holds races. The annual Tamworth event is scheduled for March 1 and 2, 2014.