Friday, March 20, 2015
Polish Sled Dogs
Any Polish speakers out there? I thought about trying my hand with Google translate, but I suspect I'd get some mash-up that makes only marginal sense. What's really important is that these two photos are dated. The top, 1976 and the bottom, 1977.
Anyway, I did do some research into Zakopane, Poland. It's a town, 28,000 people as of 2004, on the southern border of Poland, near Slovakia. It's at the foot of the Tatra Mountains. The first written reference to Zakopane dates back to the mid 17th century, referenced not as a town, but a meadow. By 1676, a village of 43. By 1889, a climatic health resort of 3,000. (That's when the treatment of tuberculosis was clean, mountain air.) And then there was the Hitler/Stalin Pact. People have forgotten, but World War 2 pretty much began with a joint German, Soviet invasion of Poland. Soviet NKVD agents and Gestapo officers met in Zakopane to formulate a plan for the pacification of Polish resistance movements. Today Zakopane is a resort catering to mountaineers, Alpine, and Nordic skiers, snow boarders, and ski jumpers.
Now about the dogs. The guy who sold these to me swore up and down that they're Saint Bernards. I don't think he's right but then again, the only dogs I've ever had were mutts, so what do I know. In our pet-centric world, it's hard to remember, but there was a time when dogs that didn't work, didn't get fed. I'm going to recommend a DVD, Landmarks of Early Film. From Blackhawk and Image Entertainment, it's an anthology of film shorts from 1886 to 1913, including The Dog and His Various Merits. Released in France, in 1908 by Pathe, it's pretty much what the title implies, working dogs, working. If you've ever wanted to see a dog delivering milk, here's your chance.