Friday, January 16, 2009

REVIEW: Gold Rush Dogs

Title: Gold Rush Dogs
Author(s): Claire Rudolf Murphy and Jane G. Haigh
ISBN: 0882405349/ Alaska Northwest Books, 2004
Rating: B-

First Line: Legions of treasure seekers during the Alaska-Yukon gold rush era depended on the loyalty and hard work of their dogs.

Murphy and Haigh set out to tell us about the most famous dogs during the gold rush era, and they do an admirable job. This book is filled with photographs of the day: the dogs, their owners, and the places where they lived and worked. Those pictures do a lot to place the reader right in the thick of things.

Of the nine dogs written about in this book, I was familiar with three, having already read a book about the sled dogs responsible for getting vaccine to Nome, Alaska, in the winter of 1925. Dogs did more than pull sleds however. One accompanied naturalist John Muir in his treks over glaciers. Another met all incoming ships at the piers in Juneau. My favorite was Nero, the companion of the richest woman in the Klondike, Belinda Mulrooney. Mulrooney would load Nero with heavy sacks of gold dust to take on an 18-mile walk to the bank. On one such journey, Nero slipped while crossing a deep stream. The weight of the gold dust kept him from saving himself. I'd tell you what happened next, but why ruin the best chapter in a very good book?

This is a marvelous book for any dog lover. It is filled to the brim with interesting stories, history and photos. There is much to be learned in its pages. The only quibble I have with Gold Rush Dogs is its layout. Interspersed amongst the stories of the dogs are other snippets of history. Although related to the information of the chapter they're in, more than once these side stories interrupt the flow of the story of the dog. I found it more than a bit irritating and thought that there should have been a better way of including these extras. That one complaint aside, I enjoyed this book and found it to be a fitting companion to a previous book by the authors: Gold Rush Women.


  1. I'm a dog lover, so it sounds good to me!

  2. I am also a dog lover and on top of that, I find the gold rush an interesting thing in history. In 2007 I was on vacation in Seattle, and they had a god rush museum we went to. Very interesting. And it must've been a hard life for both men, women and dogs.

  3. Kathy--I'm a dog lover, too. I've been blessed with some wonderful canine friends over the years.

    Lou--the Klondike gold rush is one of my favorite periods of history, so I enjoyed the book from that standpoint as well. It sounds as though you and I have visited the same museum in Seattle!


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