Mushing Legends: Short Seeley

Short Seeley and Wonalancet Farm

By Robert Forto

A large measure of the success of the Siberian Husky and the Alaskan Malamute as purebred sled and show dogs is given to a small sprightly woman known as “Short” Seeley. When Arthur Walden left New Hampshire to go with Admiral Byrd, he left his Chinook kennels in the more than capable hands of Milton and Eva Seeley.  The enthusiasm and complete professional dedication which the Seeley’s lavished on northern dogs influenced (and still does) the status of these dogs all over the world.

At Wonalancet Farm and kennels during the late 1920’s the Seeley’s established a school for dogs and dog drivers. The graduates of this school, both human and canine, have gone on Antarctic expeditions, served in the United States Armed Forces and made names for themselves on the sport racing trails. The kennel and training school at Wonalancet is the oldest privately run school in operation anywhere, and up until 1955, Short Seeley supplied dogs for the United States Navy’s Operation Deepfreeze in Antarctica.

The dogs favored by the Seeley’s were Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies. It was primarily through their efforts that a true-to-type Alaskan Malamute was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1938. The Seeley’s organized the Alaskan Malamute Club of America and kept the New England Sled Dog Club in business after its first president went to Antarctica.  Mrs. Seeley herself was one of three women who raced the New England trails during the 1930’s. She was also the only woman to race sled dogs in the 1932 Olympics. Later in life, Mrs. Seeley had minimal involvement in the operation of her kennel while she was traveling all over the country as a judge for the American Kennel Club, working on books about her life and her dogs.

Mrs. Seeley, as the operator of Chinook Kennels for over fifty years, had seen over two thousand dogs enter her gates. The accomplishments of these dogs and the achievements of the kennels have been nationally recognized. Admiral Byrd visited in the early thirties, and a plaque was dedicated to all the sled dogs that served on the Byrd Expedition. In 1971, Senator Norris Colton, of New Hampshire, read a tribute to Short Seeley into the congressional record citing in particular her excellent contributions to the world of northern dogs. Mrs. Seeley was also honored by election to the Dog Mushers’ Hall of Fame. At the time of her election, she was one of only two women to be so distinguished.

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Dr. Robert Forto is a professional musher and races under the Team Ineka banner. Dr. Forto can be reached th

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