Introducing Annie Jackson...
My love affair with sled dogs started at an early age, ignited by reading Jack London’s Call Of The Wild; (like many other sledding enthusiasts). Unfortunately, there were no Siberian Huskies in Australia back then, so I had to make do with the family GSP – I made her a leather harness out of an old horse bridle and we had a lot of fun. By 1988, Siberians had made it to Australia, I got my first one and never looked back. By the end of 1989 I had three or four, and a lifelong commitment to the working Siberian had begun. I bred my first two litters under the Kishiga prefix, and then became Norstarr Siberians. For a few years my focus was dual purpose Siberians, I worked and raced all of my dogs, and also showed – in a few short years I had bred 12 Australian Show Champions - all of them working and race winning dogs. When the American show Siberian type made it to Australia, I knew that that was not a direction I wished my kennel to go in and began to concentrate my time solely on working and racing my dogs. I’m proud of the consistent success my dogs have achieved over the last three decades on the race circuit, as well as bringing myself and my family a lot of joy and a real sense of purpose.
I was lucky enough to be a part of the sport of sleddog racing here in Australia from its’ infancy. The Siberian Husky Club of Victoria was the first to hold races, I held positions on the Committee and Sledding Sub Committee for some years. It was nice to see the club hold its 30th Anniversary Race in 2017!! It was an exciting time as Open Race Clubs formed and began to hold races, and within a few short years there was a number of races in SA, NSW, VIC, ACT and QLD – and the Australian scene has never looked back. I was involved in the formation of one such club, Southern Cross Sled Dog Club, holding various committee positions including Vice President and Race Marshall. The Club held one of the most hotly contested races on the circuit for over ten years and I made some lifelong friends. I was also part of the committee of the first umbrella organisation The Victorian Sled Dog Racing Association, which was responsible for writing and organising many of the policies, rules and guidelines that are still in use today. The race scene in the Nineties was a vibrant one, lots of enthusiasm and growth, big entries and great competition. There were quite a few international visitors who came to share their knowledge and experiences – Dee Dee Jonrowe (USA), Tim White (USA), Leigh and Susan Gilchrist (Lokiboden Siberians CAN), Terry Hinesly (USA) and Ali Koops (UK). Tim White took our Australian dryland sledding invention – the scooter – back to the mushing world, something us Aussies should be proud of.
In 2012, I was able to see a 15+ year dream become reality and welcomed Jedda the GSP x EP to our kennel. I had been a big fan of the Open North American and Fur Rondy Open sprint races in Alaska since the late 90’s, and from the moment Egil Ellis came over from Sweden with his Eurohounds and won the ONAC in 1999 I began following his kennel; and knew that one day I wanted to have dogs like that. Now in 2018, we now have a kennel which is half Siberians and half Eurohounds. As a musher I always want to keep learning, and for me running a new type of dog after so many years has been the way to do that.
Another way to keep learning was to take off on an adventure. In Jan 2016 I was very fortunate to stay at Mitch Seavey’s Iditarod kennel in Alaska. It was a couple of months I will never forget. I was responsible for the yearling group in the kennel, around 40 or so. This involved their daily care, feeding etc, as well as training them to be sled dogs. Running teams every day in beautiful Alaska was a dream come true. We did runs every day, some of them 40 miles with a break in the middle to teach the yearlings how to camp in preparation for their long-distance racing careers. It was amazing to see just what these dogs are capable of, and how much joy there is living and working with them every day. By the time I left the whole group were proper sled dogs, including three yearling leaders I had developed in that time. I was so proud following them in Iditarod this year! I was also teamed up with Mitch’s main handler for the daily ‘vet care’ routine of his A-Team, which included daily massages, laser treatments and foot care. That was a huge learning curve being able to get my hands on so many dogs every day and fast track my knowledge of injury treatments and prevention. All of us who were there at the kennel that season were incredibly proud of the dogs and Mitch for his record-breaking win in Iditarod that year, the perfect end to an amazing winter for me. The week before I left I attended the Fur Rondy World Championship Open Sprint race and handled a friend’s team, and then handling for Seavey teams at Iditarod Ceremonial Start before heading home.
I’m very happy to be able to attend as Race Marshall for NEGRC Queensland this year.
I competed at this race back in 1999 when Bec was just 3 years old. She still remembers the ferry ride in the dog truck to get to the race site 😊I attended again in 2016 to compete in the ASSA National Championships and it was great to see such an enthusiastic and professionally run event; and I’m sure this year will be the same.
Thank you to the club for inviting me and I look forward to catching up with you all.
ASSA Vice President