Uelen Kennels - Bruce Morrow 1973-1982
by Doug Willett
This is the first part of what I hope will be several articles chronicling and picturing the primary post Bragg-Markovo dogs. The main component in contemporary Seppalas comes from the three siblings, Ali, Beowulf, and Baron, all of whom were bred by Bruce Morrow. So we will start with Bruce Morrow and Uelen Kennels.
First, however, let me quickly recap the beginning history of the Seppala strain. The Seppala originated in the kennel of Harry Wheeler of St. Jovite, Quebec who spanned the period from 1930 to around 1950. The strain probably received its name from Harry Wheeler's breeding and registration procedure. All of the registered stock carried the suffix ".... of Seppala" in their name. Wheeler was adamant about bringing in outside Siberians, and so developed his own special type both physically and mentally, a type totally descended from and patterned after his original set of dogs, two of which were direct imports from Siberia. The Wheeler dogs were the first CKC registered Siberian Huskies. See my article in the first issue of this bulletin for more in formation on Wheeler's original dogs. Wheeler sold out, dogs and the "... of Seppala" name, to the partnership of C.S. MacLean and J.D. McFaul, who spanned the period from 1950 to 1963. McFaul told me that the long-coated dogs in the Wheeler group were sold or passed on to Foxstand Kennels, Bill Shearer of Massachusetts. All of the Foxstand Siberians, except one or two at the beginning (circa 1930), were pure Seppalas and many were very good, as Shearer was quite successful as a racer in New England. The Foxstand Seppalas made large contributions to the general racing Siberians in New England, for example, the famous Igloo Pak's Tok had a pure Seppala, Foxstand's Pontiac, as it's grandfather.
From 1963 to 1969 no kennel bred pure Seppalas and the strain was almost assimilated into the general Siberian Husky population. Luckily, one person, J.J. Bragg, recognized the distinctive nature of the Seppalas and came to the rescue. Bragg's Markovo Kennel bred 10 litters from 1969 to 1975 utilizing 4 of the McFaul Seppalas and 3 other pure descendants of them. Roughly the same time period as Bragg, 1971 to the early 1980's, Gary Egleston (Seppmeum Kennel) of Pleasant Hill, MO, bred approximately 10 more pure Seppala litters. Besides the Bragg base animals, Egleston's base included a Bryar bitch, Willi-Wow's Gale of Cupid, Lyl's sister Moka of Sepsequel and a McDougal male, Malamak's Oklessik.
At least 6 of the Markovo dogs went to Bruce Morrow, then from Parksville, British Columbia of Vancouver Island and later from Prince George. These were the foundation dogs for Uelen Kennels. I had the good fortune to correspond with Bruce through Bragg's referral in early 1976, and we developed a close friendship and an informal partnership. He visited me in Utah a few times, and I think he may have been introduced to the back of the sled for the first time during one of those visits. Later Bruce had a pleasure team that he used for recreation in the Prince George area. I'm sure that he would still be running a team of sled dogs for just the pleasure of doing it, had he not been prematurely killed in a tire explosion at his job.
Bruce Morrow with Davik of Markovo, who was called "Little Man" by Bruce. Davik ran on the Sepp-Alta racing team in 1977, but died before we could breed him. Davik was around 23" and 50 pounds.
Bruce registered 5 litters of which the last 2 were at least in spirit jointly with me:
Surgut of Markovo x Helen of Markovo
Uelen's Alua, f
Uelen's Aubrey, m
Uelen's Ali, f (#4)*
Uelen's Akku, m (#37)
Uelen's Bruce, m (#31)
Uelen's Boogie, f
Uelen's Beowulf of Sepp-Alta, m (#1)
Uelen's Baron of Sepp-Alta, m (#11)
Uelen's Blizzard of Sepp-Alta, m
Uelen's Beta-Helen of Sepp-Alta, f
Uelen's Chance, f
Uelen's Chavok, m
Uelen's Beowulf of Sepp-Alta x Mokka of Markovo
Uelen's Demon of Sepp-Alta, f (#44)
Uelen's Dingo of Sepp-Alta, f (HM)**
Uelen's Duffy of Sepp-Alta, m (#41)
(Three puppies died from parvo, pre-vaccine era)
Uelen's Baron of Sepp-Alta x Mokka of Markovo
Uelen's Ebony of Sepp-Alta, m (#12)
Uelen's Ezra of Sepp-Alta, m (HM)
Uelen's Eimie of Sepp-Alta, f
Eclipse of Sepp-Alta, m (HM)
* Doug's top 50 dogs as rated in the last issue
** Honorable mention as indicated also in the last issue
All the pups except Alua and Aubrey, which were sold before I was on the scene, were trained by me. Only Chance and Boogie returned to BC, and Chance was bred there at least once to a non-Seppala. The quality of these dogs is clearly indicated by their top 50 ratings done in the last issue and indicated above. Eight of the top 50 as well as three honorable mentions are in just this small group of 17 dogs!
Ali and Beowulf can be considered the mother and father of the Sepp-Alta line of dogs. Both were superb racing leaders. Ali was a yellowish-tan and white spotted female ranging from 42 - 47 pounds, with a slight swayback and an ugly face by show dog standards. Beowulf was bigger, about 50-52 pounds, white without any exaggerated physical features-a very average looking nice dog.
Ali usually came into heat only in the fall. Being a main racing leader, I didn't want to lose her from the racing team, and so most of her breedings occurred late in life. She produced a litter of 6 just a few days short of being 8 years old and a litter of 9 nine months later. That litter of 9 was one of the best Sepp-Alta litters ever. It included Nestly (#2), Narly (#19), Nugget (#29), and Nutuk, who made a good name for himself in Great Britain. Other very good offspring of Ali were Peter (#27), Oreo (HM), Ulyseus and Maizie. The latter two should have been "honorable mentions".
Mentally, Beowulf was absolutely outstanding. It didn't make any difference who drove him. Moone Willett used to liken Beowulf in lead with driving a Cadillac on an interstate highway compared to other leaders being Volkswagen buses on a cow path. Beowulf had a sense for going just the right speed, knowing when to cruise or when to increase the effort, so that the maximum was obtained from the team and the driver was happy. I remember Beowulf setting just the right pace to edge Gary Jacobson's hound-AK husky team by about one minute each day in the 2 x 21 mile Montana state unlimited class championship in 1982. In that same year, down by more than 7 1/2 minutes with just 8 miles to go o a 20 mile trail on a warm Sunday afternoon at Athabasca, Alberta, Beowulf increased the pace enough to pull away from Eddie Courtorelle's Attla-Alaskan team making up an average of one minute per mile to win the race by just 28 seconds. Only a superdog effort by Beowulf won the 1983 Uinta-Summit 2 x 43-mile race. Breaking trail though at least two feet of powder at 11,000 feet altitude, Beowulf loped his 11-dog team away from a trailing 16-dog team to make up approximately 15 minutes in the last 19 miles on Saturday. The next morning he was so stiff that I had to literally stand him up and force his legs back and forth to get him moving. He was tough too. He insisted upon being on the team for Sunday's heat, with less vigor then usual but still doing a teamdog's job. Beowulf could turn on the speed for sprints as well. Two years in a row, Moone, using Beowulf in co-lead, ran dead even with Jacobson's hound team in the 5 or 6 dog, 6 mile Brianhead, Utah sprints. Moone won by 1 second one year and came in second place one second behind Gary the next year.
Beowulf was bred several times by me, my main stud from 1978 through 1990. He was bred only three times outside the kennel that I can remember. To this day, I cannot explain why more people did not breed to him, other than a few so-called dual-purpose breeders remarking that he was ugly. Is there really mystery to the poor performance record of conventional Siberian Huskies? Beowulf's bigger and more impressive (to the eye) brother, Baron, actually received more attention from outsiders. Baron was essentially the father of Carl Quento and Linda Trinkhaus's Comet kennels in California. He also produced a half-Seppala litter for Walt Brockman (Shegge-Mann Kennel) in the Mid-West. Walt had a large kennel of mostly Anadyr and Little AK based Siberians, but nevertheless his main leader for several years came from that one Baron litter. The best Beowulf offspring at Sepp-Alta were Cat (#9), Lester (#13), Sky (#14), Yellow (#15), and Quewolf (#23). Other excellent protegees were Blue (#2, Cricket (#35), Flame (#40), Duffy (#41), Demon (#44), Flair (#50), Skunk, Rochael, Ruth, Russia, Zodiac and Fang. The best offspring from the outside breedings was probably Sepp-Lok's Ariak of Kimball, bred and owned by Launette Kimball, then in UT. The story is that I had actually chosen Ariak for my stud fee, but when I went to leave, I grabbed the wrong white pup, and so Arooh went to Sepp-Alta and Ariak became Launette's main leader for several years. Arooh was a good dog but not the same caliber as Ariak. Harry of Sepp-Alta, who was a 100% pure Seppala son of Beowulf from an outside breeding, was also an excellent dog with super physical conformation.
Baron's main descendant at Sepp-Alta was Ebony (#12), who ran on the main team for 5 or 6 years, sometimes as the main leader. Ron Krucek, who used Ebony as a main racing leader after he was retired at Sepp-Alta, said that Ebony, who must have been around 9 years old at that time, sped up his team by about 2 minutes per mile. The two brood bitches Alma and Athena were sired by Baron. Alma was famous for being the mother of Hank (Hercules of Sepp-Alta), and also the center of my greatest mistakes. Alma was a big and noisy bitch, over 50 pounds. She ran on my main team as a yearling, and after I took the H-litter out of her, I sold her mostly because she was so noisy, and because there were three female progeny left from the H-litter. I deeply regret that sale now. I lost what probably would have become a major brood bitch if not an outstanding performer. In addition, the purchasers neglected her for most of her life. I bought her back late in her life but was unable to get further pups from her. Athena is best known for being the mother of Powder of Markovo, a small white bitch with an exuberant attitude, too small to race and so was bred a lot with outstanding results. For example, my main leader, Izzie (#5), up to very recently, is a Powder daughter. The moral of this story is don't be too hasty discarding those little bitches, or those noisy bitches, or those long-coated bitches!
Baron was sold to Brad Pazarnsky of North Dakota with the idea that he would become a major base stud to put more leg under Brad's dogs. Apparently, however, circumstances, I think that this was about the time Brad was contemplating a divorce, limited dog breeding, and so Baron was only bred once or twice by Brad.
(to be continued??)