Stardancer Historical Freight Dogs

Two Rivers, Alaska

 

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Population Control in the Stardancer Kennel

    Population control is an important part of managing a sled dog team.  One needs to maintain a fairly steady supply of new dogs to replace those that grow too old to run with the team, yet also control the numbers to prevent overpopulation.  I know several mushers who have ended up with fairly large numbers of retired sled dogs in their yards, but not enough younger dogs to put together a full team. 

    My goal is to be able to field a team of 8 working dogs.  My retirees remain in the Stardancer Historical Freight Dogs kennel throughout the remainder of their lives, and I hope to limit their number to no more than 2 at a time.  Consequently I need to maintain a wide age-spread among my dogs, literally ranging from puppies through geriatrics.  At this stage of the kennel's development, this can be achieved by bringing in two or three new puppies every other year. 

    Some of the Stardancer dogs have come from either the Fairbanks North Star Borough Animal Control Shelter, some from Loving Companions Animal Rescue, two Stardancer dogs came from the Hedlund Husky Preservation Project and very rarely we have a litter of puppies from our own breeding. 

     As a general rule all Stardancer dogs are spayed or neutered either before or shortly after we acquire them.  Dogs whelped in our kennel or acquired as puppies are generally spayed at about 14 months of age because there are health and behavioral concerns that make it advisable to delay spaying or neutering working dogs until after they have reached puberty.  For more details about these concerns, visit the article Early Spay-Neuter Considerations for the Canine Athlete; One Veterinarian's Opinion by Chris Zink DVM, PhD, DACVP.

    Dogs reproduce very quickly and it is important that responsible breeders go to great lengths to ensure that only the very best dogs be allowed to contribute their genetic material to the next generation.  Please remember that the goal is not to produce more puppies (there are plenty of puppies in the world) nor is the goal to just maintain the current ability of the team.  The goal of any breeding of working dogs should be to IMPROVE the breed.  This can only be done by selecting the very best dogs, and spaying or neutering any dog that is not truly exceptional.

       To date, we have done exactly one breeding, and this will probably a one-time event in our kennel.  We were very fortunate to acquire a truly exceptional intact lead dog (Torus) at about the same time that another musher who also prefers the larger "trap line" types was planning to breed a proven bitch (Lucky)The deal was simple and straighforward.  Half the litter stayed with the Stardancer kennel and the other half have a lifetime home with Lucky's owner.