Gary Coy – The Man Driving the Dog Team

Posted on September 18th, 2019 in American History by Ignacio Ayala

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There is strong historical and anthropological evidence that dogs came across the Bering land bridge with people migrating from Siberia to Alaska. These dogs worked hard to maintain their keep; they weren’t pets. Instead, they chased and ran down polar bears and located seals hiding beneath the Bering ice. One of the early dog professionals in Alaska was Harry Karstens, who later became the first superintendent of Mount McKinley National Park. As a young man, he pioneered a dog sled route from Fairbanks to Valdez, and hauled mail to the Katishna mining district. Now, at Denali National Park in central Alaska, there’s a breeding and training and leadership program for these sled dogs. I spoke with Gary Coy, the director of this remarkable kennel. In his office there is a large sign quoting Harry Karstens. It says: “A man driving a dog team is the biggest dog himself.” Amid the noise and the chatter of the dog kennels in Denali Park, I asked Gary to explain what that sign means and to tell us a little about this wonderful project.

Gary Coy recommends “A Dog-Puncher on the Yukon,” by Arthur Walden.

Originally Broadcast: August 28, 1996

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