Out of the Past Comes A New Dawn
discover the origins of the American Indian Dog you must study
the legends & history of the Native Americans themselves –
a trip back in time before Europeans explored the New World. Long
before the introduction of the horse, the dog was there to guard,
hunt, herd and carry. Their versatility made them essential to
the livelihood & survival of the tribal group. The coyote-like
appearance of the American Indian dog is not a coincidence. The
Native Americans believed the coyote or ‘Gods dog’ was the first
being on earth, & will be the last. Many tribes actively sought
to breed their dogs with coyotes to maintain the dog’s survival
instincts, pack loyalty & high intelligence. However, the
last known introduction of coyote into the Dogs was way before
the 1800’s. It should never be confused with the modern hybrids
that are created by breeding dogs with wolfs or coyotes. The ancestors
of the American Indian Dogs have been traced back before the Ice
Age, whilst they were well documented by the Spanish explorers.
The largest populations were found among the North American Plains
Indians, but the medium – sized Hare & Common Indian dogs
were also recorded from the sub-artic, through Canada, different
parts of the U.S. and down to the tip of South America. Based
on observations made between 1780 & 1830, it was estimated
that from the Comanche in the south to the Blackfoot in the north
there were at least 200,000 of these dogs, (& that’s not including
the Common & Hare Indian dogs & other medium-sized types.
Most Indian family groups had around 20 dogs on average. It is
believed that the main reason the breeds almost became extinct
is that they looked so coyote-like that settlers & soldiers
felt as threatened by the dogs as they did by the Indians themselves.
Also the Spanish eat the Native dogs when they ran out of meat,
this alone could have almost disseminated the dog population itself.
Even after the tribal groups themselves were moved to reservations,
their dogs continued to be destroyed.
The Native Americans bred their
dogs carefully. The breeding was the task of the women of the
tribes who did not allow the bitch to be bred until her third
season. The selected sire was never to closely related. On the
third day, after birth, the pups were best pups were selected,
& the rest destroyed so that the bitch could devote herself
to just one or two. Non-breeding males were castrated.
As a boy, Kim La Flamme,
part Blackfoot, used to play with these dogs. He wanted to find
out more about these dogs, & was amazed to find out they were
considered extinct. When he was only 14 years old he started his
quest to find more dogs, by writing to every reservation &
Native American organization in Canada, U.S. & Mexico. He
found a few dogs of the traditional type, as well as other feral
types that he believed, because of the area & their characteristics,
had a lot of Indian dog blood in them.
As an anti war protester, Kim was on the run for some time.
He used his travels to continue to search for The Dogs. Eventually
he gave himself up to the authorities. During this time he had
lost some of the dogs. Undeterred, he once more started the search
for suitable breeding stock.
One lucky find was a male that
he spotted with a hitchhiker – Kim nearly caused an accident when
he turned round on spotting it! The hitchhiker was a Sioux Indian
Lady, bred for generations by her family. This dog was mated to
his bitches & apart from two more feral dogs, there has been
no other more good specimens found for the breeding program Although
the registry is closed, it sure would be re-opened if a particularly
good specimen were to be found, although Kim believes that many
of the dogs, reputations are being damaged by the unscrupulous
hybrid breeders that are trying to market there wolf & or
coyote hybrids as Indian Dogs. Kim says there was already enough
coyote blood in them, to want to bring more wild blood back in?
– “There is nothing wrong with hybrids if you know what you’re
getting & from a responsible breeder, but it is very irresponsible
to sell some unsuspecting person a hybrid, they are nothing like
the loyal & trainable personality of the American Indian dogs,
just because they may look similar, doesn’t mean they are. The
American Indian Dogs where not hybrids. We need to take care of
our heritage not put a lot of faults information out there, there’s
enough out there already,” Kim says.
Thanks to Sarah Harrison for submitting this article to
to Sarah Harrison for submitting this article to DOGS MONTHLY.