National Dog Month – It’s Ruff Work!
The month of August often signifies the return of school and the transition into fall as we say goodbye to the sweltering heat waves and welcome the falling leaves. Aside from the weather, August is also home to the celebration of man’s best friend; National Dog Month! Take this month as a time to acknowledge your furry-friend for all the wonderful things they do. You can observe this holiday by spending some time with your pup, gift them a treat, a brand new toy of their own, take them for walks, for a spa day at the groomers, or simply give them a good belly rub. Whatever it is you decide to do, show them a little love!
This month we want to recognize some furry-friends on the mail scene. When you hear the words dog and mail, one might often think about the feud between them and mailmen. But did you know? Once upon a time, the two had worked together to bring our packages and letters from doorstep to doorstep!
Dawn of The Husky’s
That’s right, while no longer a primary form of mail delivery, Sled Dogs were once used to traverse the winter weather to get mail from point A to point B. Sled dogs often consisted, but were not limited to, breeds like the Alaskan Malamute, Siberian Husky, Chinook, Samoyed. The Yukon gold rush of 1897 brought forth a wave of settlers to the Alaskan wilderness and from that influx and necessity for supplies and mail, the Iditarod trail was born in 1908. Over time, the trail would expand and the necessity for sled dog teams would become the main source of transportation for mail and supplies!
Sled dogs were often used in the Northern U.S. and the Alaskan Territory during the cold winter months. Today’s breeds can travel upwards to 20 MPH over short distances, and 14 MPH on longer ones! These teams usually consisted of eight to ten dogs lugging almost 500 to 700 pounds of mail. Sled dog teams would make their deliveries, up until the 1920s when the airplane began to take off. By the 1960s, the was no need to deliver mail via sled dog teams. The final sled dog team to ever officially deliver U.S. mail was Chester Noongwooks who continued to operate up until 1963 and had often delivered mail when planes could not make the trips.
While sending mail online is definitely the most efficient way to mail a letter now, we can’t help but admire the determination of those before the tech boom in their quest for delivering mail. Happy National Dog Month!
By Micaela Dixon, Postalocity Translator / Published AUGUST 5TH, 2023
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Jane Rogers, M. 5. (2021, December 14). Special delivery by sled dogs. National Museum of American History. https://americanhistory.si.edu/blog/special-delivery-sled-dogs
Sled dog mail. Last Frontier Magazine. (n.d.). https://www.lastfrontiermagazine.com/stories/sled-dog-mail
Smithsonian Institution. (n.d.). Alaskan Dog Sled Mail Carrier. Smithsonian Institution. https://www.si.edu/newsdesk/snapshot/alaskan-dog-sled-mail-carrier