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Gold Rush Dogs

Gold Rush Dogs - Jane G. Haigh Gold Rush Dogs is the kind of book that you'd find in the tourist-trappy gift shop in that little old mining town that you visited on your Gold Rush Days tour through Alaska. It's a coffee table book that you'd be likely to display to remind you of your Alaska trip, or to catch the eye of your friend that's in town for a visit. It's a popular history book that you'd thumb through while a smile played at your lips, and you might stop here and there to read about what's going on in that photo that caught your eye.

But Gold Rush Dogs is also good! The dogs presented in this book were all creatures with valiant hearts who made the lives of their masters safer, happier, warmer, and possibly even more prosperous than they may have been without their poochie pals. Some of the dogs in this book saved the lives of their masters, or played roles in saving the lives of scores of people. These animals were critical to the survival of humans in this hostile environment.

The notion of the large, thick coated Alaskan sled dog is iconic, but before reading this book I wasn't aware that a wide range of breeds were present and playing vital roles in the lives of the Alaskans. Dogs as small as 12-18 inches in height, to as large as Saint Bernards or mastiffs marched through the pages of this book. The huskies and malamutes were represented, of course, but I certainly would never have thought of the short-haired breeds like bull terriers or German shorthaired pointers as being animals suited to cold Alaskan winters.

Many of the stories were heart warming or heart breaking, but all were interesting and well told. In addition to being a fabulous coffee table book, or a gift to a dog lover, this book could easily be a resource for reports that older elementary school or even middle school aged kids have to write for history class. It is rich with photographs, gold rush history, and biographies of the dogs and people who played a part in Alaska's history, and it is decently sourced.