|Briggs (brother to Stratton!*) was my heaviest dog and pulled in the back pair, closest to the sledge. When unfit he weighed in about 120 lbs which dropped to about 105-110 when he had run off some of his fat! He's not long off base in this shot hence the remains of some blubber attached to his fur. A complete escape artist he was capable of contorting his lower jaw enough to chew through his own collar.
Stratton are a British the manufacturers of small
engines particularly used in lawnmowers though the
latter are uncommon in Antarctica.
Huskies were used
in Antarctica for a little under a hundred years.
They were first used for transport
during the Southern Cross expedition under Carsten Borchgrevink
In the early years,
they were the only form of transport other than foot, as the
20th Century progressed, so more effective and more reliable
mechanized transport became available. For a long time these
motor vehicles were only really trustworthy on relatively flat,
smooth surfaces and even then a gifted mechanic nearby was often
Dog sleds remained until well
into the 1970's as a required transportation solution. They
were much more flexible than motor vehicles available at the
time, considerably lighter (for travelling across crevassed
regions or sea-ice) and could cope with the broken up / fractured
terrain often encountered in Antarctica better than the early
They were kept, initially as
a back-up for mechanized transport and then later
when not required for this, for
"recreational" purposes. Many generations of Antarctic personnel
on scientific bases regarded their experiences in Antarctica
as being greatly enhanced by the presence of the dogs and the
possibility of sledging trips with them.
In 1991, the fear that distemper from dogs could spread to seals
and the impact they could have on wildlife if they escaped led
to a new clause in the Antarctic Treaty.
shall not be introduced onto land or ice shelves and
dogs currently in those areas shall be removed by April
The last dogs were
removed from Antarctica on Feb 22nd 1994. All that remains of
these most loyal of man's companions in the most extreme place
on earth is their history and photographs.
If you think about it, as Amundsen
used dog sleds to reach the South Pole and his sled was being
pulled by dogs at the time, dogs even reached the South Pole
momentarily before the first man did!
copyright Drummond Small