Canadian Eskimo Dog becomes first to win ch show group placing
FOR POSSIBLY the first time at a championship show, a Canadian Eskimo Dog (CED) – and one registered under the Kennel Club’s ‘unverified parentage’ scheme – has achieved a group placing. He did so at East of England after winning best unclassified working.
He is Racheal Bailey’s Napu of Northwinds at Akna, who was imported from the Arctic and now has two BOB and two RBOB.
Napu was bred from dogs used for polar expeditions. The breed is very rare following the death of Ann Allen of the Shepherdsway affix, who was the UK’s only CED breeder, and there are between 400 and 500 worldwide.
"To say I was shocked when he became the first rare breed and CED to gain a group place at a championship show would be an understatement!” Racheal said.
Napu, who is two on Monday was bred by Matty McNair, the famous female polar explorer from Iqaluit in Canada, who has a pack of CED she uses for polar expeditions including trips to the North Pole.
"Matty only breeds a litter occasionally and when we received the email to say there would be a male puppy available I could never have known how things were going to change,” Racheal said.
"There’s only a yearly veterinary clinic in Iqaluit so there was no time to get Napu a passport, and as Matty was planning to travel to the UK that December to attend Buckingham Palace for a celebration of exploration and adventure, Napu travelled with her and had to go into quarantine.
"Luckily he only had to stay until January 2 when he was released to me.”
Rachael’s home in Leicestershire was a far cry from Napu’s previous home on the ice and rock of the bay of Iqaluit, but he fitted in quickly with Racheal’s other CED, two of whom were bitches bred by Mrs Allen.
Small gene pool
"Ann, along with Walt and Kath Howarth, imported the first CED’s to the UK in the late 1980s,” Racheal said. "There were already dogs here called Eskimo Dogs – previously known as Huskies or Esquimaux Dogs – but sadly, due to politics and a division in opinion, the breed was split into the Greenland Dog and the Canadian Eskimo Dog.
"In Canada during the ‘70s the CED had suffered losses of thousands due to the slaughter of the dogs by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Greenland and Northern Europe where the dogs had flourished. This meant that the genetic pool for the CED was already small.”
After Mrs Allen suffered a stroke her dogs were rehomed or neutered so no more were bred.
"I lost a great mentor and friend and was at a complete loss as to what to do next, as I had bought Napu without Canadian Kennel Club registration papers, and Matty’s kennel uses pure CED to work, to take expedition teams deep into the Arctic and does not breed to show,” Racheal said.
But, helped by Gary Johnson, breeder services manager at the Kennel Club, and judges Ann Arch and Jeff Horswell who assessed Napu, he was registered through the unverified parentage scheme.
"It was lengthy and expensive process but meant that we now had a male dog in the UK who could begin to open up our restricted gene pool,” Racheal said.
Napu is now shown and worked.
"I race all my dogs in sled dog competitions and we also compete at weight pull events,” she said.
"The CED was not just bred to be a sled dog but as a hunting dog who would work for several days without food or water, and would show no fear while holding polar bears at bay while their hunter owners killed their prize. They were also used to explore the Arctic and made the unforgiving land of ice accessible for mankind – very different to what we have for them today!
"Napu has led the first six-dog, all CED team at the Siberian Husky Club of GB Aviemore sled dog event in Scotland.”
Early last year Racheal heard about a CED bitch who needed a home.
"So I took another chance and sent her to another dog from the high Arctic, mated her, and then imported her via the pet passport scheme,” she said. "In April 2012 she whelped seven puppies who were again assessed by the same judges and put through the same process.
"This gave us even more genetics and more dogs – I now have 21 registered here – and with our plans to use Napu at stud also being successful everything was going to plan.”
See East of England coverage on page 38.