Prototype and Ideal of the Seppala Siberian Sleddog breed

Ditko of Seppala 1969, Founder of the SSSD Breed
Ditko of Seppala, Founder of the Seppala Siberian Sleddog Breed
(Born 10 February 1959. Bought by Jeffrey 19 October 1969. Died 10 July 1971.)
IN 1976 just after the close of the Markovo Rescue Project, I wrote of Ditko as follows in "The Seppala Siberian -- A Breeder's Manual":
"Of DITKO OF SEPPALA I can say only that for me he represented the ideal Siberian working dog as no other dog could. In the two years of his old age that he spent at Pefferlaw and Oxford Station he captured my heart and decisively influenced my thoughts about the Siberian Husky. His death at twelve and one half years of age from stomach cancer took from me a priceless stud dog, a living ideal of the Leonhard Seppala Siberian, and a deeply loved friend. He was originally purchased from Donnie McFaul by Mrs. Nansen (formerly Ricker), who operated the first Seppala Kennels in the late 1920s in partnership with Leonhard Seppala and who owned the famous Togo in his declining years. It is said that Ditko was chosen as best representing the Siberians that Seppala bred and raced in Alaska.
      Because he came to me as an old dog and because a move made two planned matings impossible, I was able to secure only one litter of pure Seppala lineage sired by Ditko, the "H" litter of Markovo, Regd. Ditko's son and daughters -- Haakon, Holly and Helen of Markovo -- were among my most treasured foundation stock. My deepest heart's wish for each promising male puppy was that he might turn out to be "as good as the Old Man"; none ever quite achieved the measure of Ditko's excellence in my eyes . . . it is a difficult standard."

Ditko was a littermate brother to J. Malcolm McDougall's SARGO OF SEPPALA 2nd and VIXEN OF SEPPALA 4th. His sire was TOTO OF SEPPALA, his dam ZAZA OF SEPPALA; he was a grandson of McFaul's leader FOXSTAND'S SUNDAY. Here is his pedigree for those who may be interested. He was not a large dog, weighing in at 48 pounds, though he looked bigger due to his standoff coat. Ditko had a cheerful, friendly temperament and a loud, ringing nasal yap that he often used to get attention. He was a cooperative, obliging dog who would attempt almost anything. To this day I am amazed at the photos I took in front of my house on Weirs Side Road in Pefferlaw, ON, of Ditko pulling a clunky three-wheel rig on a gravel road in a warm autumn day all by himself -- at a "flying trot"!

Ditko of Seppala pulls a wheel rig at a flying trot
Ditko of Seppala pulls a heavy wheel rig at a flying trot, 15 September 1970

Ditko had beautiful movement. I once entered him in a southern Ontario dog show under judge Gordon Garrett, a German Shepherd Dog breeder to whom correct movement was very important. Ditko took Winners Dog (at well over ten years of age), taking the points away from several black and white showdogs (to their owners' great indignation), despite what the show people saw as his "ugly brownish colour" -- strictly on his lovely movement, I rather suspect. One Siberian Husky fancier told me, "Oh, you've just got to be joking -- THAT can't be a Siberian Husky!"

To this day I cannot seem to stop looking for "another Ditko." Perhaps some day a small brown puppy with a bushy coat and blue eyes will turn up in the Seppala Kennels breeding, and I'll know that my old boy has finally consented to come back to me.

Seppala Kennels