For thousands of years, Alaska Native peoples used dogs to help them survive in Alaska’s challenging climate. Puppies were trained to carry packs on their backs and how to behave while traveling from place to place, sometimes across great distances. Most Alaskan Native peoples used dogs for hunting and packing supplies rather than as part of a large sled dog team.
Athabascans made dog packs from caribou legs, as this part of the animal is light, strong, and the fur is less prone to shedding. Well-trained dogs could be sent back and forth between a hunter’s kill and camp, ferrying meat to lighten the hunter’s load.
Recently, outdoor enthusiasts are embracing modern versions of these packs. Made from light, durable materials such as nylon, velcro and cordura, these packs allow dogs to carry their own food and a few other items for their owners while hiking and trekking.
August Cohn Collection, Anchorage Museum, B1997.22.234.D1A4421
Photo by Halie West on Unsplash