Cold River Kennels

Cold River Kennels in North Sandwich NH
Cold River Kennels, North Sandwich NH

COLD RIVER KENNELS had a history that is somewhat difficult to characterise. Like Wheeler, Belfords, Shearer, Mosely and Lorna Taylor and Seeley, Marie Frothingham and her daughter got their start in the sleddog mania that seemed to seize New England circa 1930. Like Foxstand, Cold River had a thriving quarter-century existence as a pure-Seppala kennel, part of the strong main trunk of Seppala sleddog tradition. Yet it concluded by being assimilated into the mainstream show-dog Siberian Husky culture, its bloodline forever lost to Seppala strain.

Mrs. Marie Lee Frothingham, called 'The Duchess'
"The Duchess" (Mrs. Marie Lee Frothingham)

The Duchess and her daughter lived in Beverly Farms, MA; however, the kennel name comes from the river that ran behind their property in North Sandwich, NH and the kennel photo above identifies that location on its back side.
      Mrs. Marie Lee Frothingham bought her first Siberian from the Oliver Shattuck kennel in Alton, NH, a sable male named DOCTOR DAWSON (by Yukon ex Riga) who became the first Cold River leader. The photos and clippings all show a tall, forceful-looking eccentric woman very much in the tradition of the eastern US aristocracy of "old money" -- no wonder everyone called her "The Duchess"! Photos and clippings of her daughter Marie Turner portray a tight-lipped, unhappy-looking girl, perhaps driven by her mother's strong-willed personality. The sleddogs putatively belonged to "Millie" Turner, or so the transfers of ownership pertaining to the Wheeler dogs state: Cold River acquired a substantial body of stock from the St. Jovite kennel early in the game. Millie Turner raced the Cold River second string team; the first-string was driven by a hired professional driver.
      But the Shattuck stock (derived from Judge Julien Hurley's Northern Light Kennel in Fairbanks, AK) was the real beginning of Cold River. WOLFE DAWSON, a son of Shattuck's CH. NORTHERN LIGHT KOBUCK, was purchased. Another of the many famous Cold River lead dogs was Rollinsford Nina of Marilyn, a granddaughter of KOBUCK. This early leader occurs in Seppala pedigrees today through BAYOU OF FOXSTAND, bred by Joe Booth from Cold River dogs. (BAYOU has more history in her pedigree than any other dog I can think of! The linked page discusses this interesting dog.)

Cold River Kennels in North Sandwich NH
The important Cold River brood bitch Sky of Seppala (foreground) with unregistered Toto standing behind

THE MID-1930S saw the acquisition of a major body of Wheeler stock; this must have been expensive, because some top-notch animals were involved. The centrepiece was SAPSUK OF SEPPALA, a leader who had raced the 1934 and 1935 seasons on the Alec Belford team and was the son of TSERKO the Siberia import. A son of KREE VANKA the other import was also obtained, VANKA OF SEPPALA II, called "Cossack," who became another prized Cold River leader.

Jeuahnee of Cold River
Jeuahnee of Cold River

THE PURCHASE of this impressive body of Seppala stock set Cold River up as a major force in the New England Sled Dog Club for the next twenty years. Cold River bred its own stock thereafter as an independent entity, providing as well an occasional boost to other breeding programmes. SAPSUK, VANKA II, SKY and CHUCHI proved to be a potent genetic force; these were truly fine dogs. SAPSUK and SKY produced a breathtakingly lovely white long-coated male, JEUAHNEE OF COLD RIVER, who in turn sired Bill Shearer's fine leader of the 1950s, FOXSTAND'S SHAMUS.

      Millie Turner eventually married and moved to Alaska, leaving the dogs behind with her mother. Mrs. Frothingham made do with hired drivers to train and race the Cold River dog teams. The last of these were Lyle and Marguerite Grant, who were taken on in 1949. Photos from the 1950s show the Grants with well-known Cold River dogs such as NINGA OF COLD RIVER (the leader in those years), TONGASS OF COLD RIVER, JEUAHNEE OF COLD RIVER and "Cub," the striking male registered simply as BUGS.

Vanka of Seppala 2nd "Cossack"
Sapsuk of Seppala with Millie Turner

THE COLD RIVER SAGA came to a sad ending. In 1956 the kennel closed; Lyle and Peggy Grant acquired several of the remaining core stock: NINGA OF COLD RIVER and LENA OF COLD RIVER (leaders), ENARA OF COLD RIVER and TONGASS OF COLD RIVER -- a male and three females. Lyle Grant sustained an ankle injury that same year and quit driving dogs; Peg Grant drove from 1956 to 1960, but was a timid driver and finally an accident herself, breaking a leg and crushing her heel in a wheel-rig mishap.

Peggy Grant stands beside the Cold River team in training. Ninga of Cold River at lead.

Mrs. Grant came under the influence of Lorna B. Demidoff (Monadnock Kennels) and the Cold River bloodline became assimilated into New England mixed-lineage and show-dog bloodlines. (Cold River dogs such as VALUIKI OF COLD RIVER and DUCHESS OF COLD RIVER actually formed a critical part of the Monadnock foundation breeding.) Peggy Grant did not much like the piebalds and pure whites that were produced by Cold River bloodlines, so cosmetic selection became a major factor.
      As late as 1970 there were still a few dogs in New England of pure Seppala lineage that included Cold River ancestry: TONGASS OF COLD RIVER was apparently acquired by the Bryars who bred her to MARKO OF SEPPALA, and this lineage survived in a dog named ROWAN'S KENT born in 1964. Larry Prado discovered this dog, bred one of his Bryar-lineage bitches to him, and from Larry I acquired PATOU OF MONTE ALBAN, who was pure Seppala and one-eighth Cold River. Unfortunately that bloodline was lost in the post-Markovo confusion. Patou was acquired by Rick Petura who did not understand her, never bred her, and thus wasted a precious genetic resource.

TODAY THE MAGNIFICENT Cold River bloodline is no longer a part of the Seppala mainstream except through the presence of JEUAHNEE OF COLD RIVER in Foxstand breeding. In my mind, at least, Peggy Grant bears a heavy burden of blame for the assimilation of the Cold River bloodline into show-dog bloodlines. That such an important and long-lasting bloodline could come to such an end is tragic, another example of the heavy losses to which Seppalas are endlessly subjected. It is a sobering lesson in the dangers that dog shows and assimilation hold for the Seppala Siberian Sleddog.

Click here for a press clipping of Millie and Cossack!
Photos and clippings courtesy Elsie Chadwick, Siberian Husky Archives