Bow Lake Kennel

By: Lance Jensen

Earl L. Snodie was the primary owner of the Bow Lake Siberian dog kennel. He was born in St. Paul, Minnesota on May 19, 1895. He resided in the Seattle, WA area as early as 1920. Snodie and his second wife, Sigrid, bought a 5 acre piece of land in an unincorporated part of King County in 1939. It was located just a few blocks north of Bow Lake and about the same distance east of the Seattle-Tacoma Airport. A house was built on the north end of the property. This would become the first home of the Bow Lake Kennel.

In the early 1950's the Snodies divided their land into two parcels. Another house was built on the south end of the second parcel and the Snodies moved into that home in 1953. They put up a couple of outbuildings and moved the dog kennels there. They sold the first home and the land that went with it.
The second location of the Bow Lake Kennel. Photo credit: The Puget Sound Regional Branch of the WA State Archives.
An aerial view of the second Snodie home and property, taken in 1960. Courtesy of Bow Lake Inc.

Raymond and Ruby Thompson moved to the Seattle area in the early 1940's. They later built a home and a shop for their business ventures in the Alderwood Manor section of Snohomish County, which is near the city of Lynnwood.

Mr. Thompson's primary business was in trapping equipment and supplies, and to a lesser degree, sled dog equipment. He was active in writing about these subjects and also formed a printing company at his shop. One of his later publications was called
the Northern Dog News
, a newsletter which was largely devoted to sled dogs, racing and equipment.

The Thompsons became friends with Leonhard and Constance Seppala in 1948.  They also became acquainted with Earl and Sigrid Snodie around the same time.  In addition to other articles, Raymond Thompson wrote a two volume book about Leonhard Seppala, titled Seppala's Saga of the Sled Dog.  Their friendship would last until the Seppalas passed away - Leonhard in January of 1967 and Constance in April of 1969.

As mentioned in the introduction for this article, Leonhard Seppala brought a few Siberian dogs with him to Seattle. Where did he keep these dogs?

The Seppalas lived in three different homes during the time they were in Seattle. While some small changes and some cosmetic work has been done to these structures over the years, as of late 2009, all of them were still standing and were occupied. Having been to all of these residences, it seems possible that the dogs could have been kept at the first house for a time. In 1947 the property was twice the size it is today. Years later, it was subdivided and another house, with a separate address, was built to the north of the Seppala home. There is a detached building that went with the first house. It's possible the dogs could have been quartered there. In any event, all of them were placed at the Bow Lake Kennel not long after the Seppalas came to Seattle.

Regarding the Seppalas relocating from Fairbanks to Seattle, there are a couple of letters Leonhard wrote to a friend in December of 1946 which shed some light on this.  At that time, he and his wife were temporarily staying with some friends in Seattle.  According to the contents of the first letter, which is dated December 16, 1946, Constance had traveled to Seattle before Leonhard.  He retired from the mining company in Fairbanks in November of 1946.  Leonhard then made a rather hasty trip from Fairbanks to Seattle, leaving some of his affairs in Alaska still in need of attention.  He goes on to say that he is considering a trip to Norway that winter.  Furthermore, that Seattle is just a layover stop for the time being. After returning from the Norway trip, the Seppalas plan to buy a home in Seattle and settle there.

In a letter dated December 28, 1946, Seppala writes to the same friend complaining about the person he left 5 of his dogs, and some of his gear with in the Fairbanks area. That person had sold one of his sleds, against his wishes. The sled was apparently sold in order to cover the expenses in connection with taking care of the dogs.

In another letter dated April 27, 1947, Seppala again writes to the same friend. He advises that they did not go to Norway during the winter and that he and his wife are now staying with Victor Anderson at his residence in Seattle.....the same Victor Anderson who Seppala worked with for years in Nome. He goes on to say "I still have those 5 dogs up there so I intend to go up and dispose of 2 or 3 and bring out the bitch and a stud." His plan to go to Fairbanks that summer and bring back some of the dogs took place, and those dogs ended up at the Bow Lake Kennel. This account also fits in with the timeline of the local real estate records regarding the Seppalas purchasing their first home in N. Seattle in late 1947.
The second Seppala home in Seattle, from 1953 to 1958. Photo taken by the author.

The first local press report found for Leonhard Seppala after he moved to Seattle was on February 22, 1948. He attended a dog show that weekend at the Civic Auditorium in Seattle "with one of his Siberian Huskies." This dog might have been one of the Siberians he had brought with him from Alaska.

During the first part of December, 1947 a Siberian dog by the name of Nicko of Gatineau (M) 11Dec1943 (White) was bred to Tina of Gatineau (F) 14Feb1946 (White). Tina was purchased by Earl Snodie and shipped to the Bow Lake Kennel in Seattle, where she had a litter of nine puppies on February 14, 1948. All of them were White in color. These pups would become the first dogs to have the kennel name
Of Bow Lake. They were:

Dushka (F), Kalle (M), Keeneye (M), Leda (F), Malinka (F), Scokum (M), Skipper (M), Taku (M) and Tito (M).

The evidence found indicates that the partnership arrangement between Earl Snodie and Leonhard Seppala began in late 1947; and that their actual kennel operation did not officially get started until mid-February of 1948, when Tina had the litter of nine pups. How many other dogs were in the kennel at that time? Probably the ones Seppala had brought from Alaska, and possibly a few others who were owned by Earl Snodie. It doesn't seem likely that Seppala would have taken Tina to the weekend long dog show just a week after having her litter.

Leonhard Seppala had three Siberian puppies shipped by plane from Fairbanks, Alaska to the Bow Lake Kennel. They arrived on September 11, 1948. A Seattle paper took two photos of a stewardess who was on the flight holding one of the puppies. It was described as "snow-white" in color. The next day, Seppala exhibited all of them at the Toyland section of The Bon Marche department store in downtown Seattle. The puppy in the photos was scheduled to be sent to a home in the San Francisco area. The identities and disposition of the other two puppies was not reported.

Two other male dogs were used by the kennel for breeding during the first year or so -- Torr of Seppala 18Dec1942 (Gray & Black) and Igloo Pak Chuckchee 1Jul1945 (Gray & White). Torr was bred to Leda Of Bow Lake. She had a litter of three pups on February 18, 1949. That litter consisted of Honey (F - Black & White), Little Sepp (M - White), and Shuska (F - White). Leda was only a year old.

Three more Of Bow Lake litters were born in 1949. These litters were the result of breedings between Igloo Pak Chuckchee to three Bow Lake females (Dushka, Malinka and Leda). Dushka's litter of four was born on April 13 - Biff Nome (M), Coho (F), Maza (F) and Suggen (M). They were all White in color.

Malinka only had one live puppy, born on August 23. Her name was Mitzy and she was also White.

Leda's litter of four was born on October 29. They were: Ingrid (F), Snow (F), Stromboli (M) and Tuffie (M). Ingrid and Snow were both White. Stromboli was Wolf Gray and Tuffie was Gray & White. Leda was about 20 months old at that time, and this would be her second and last litter.

A female was also brought into the kennel from the outside at a later date. Her name was Kiska of Artic Valley 24Jun1951 (Gray & White). She produced one puppy from a breeding with Malick OBL. That puppy was Stormy, listed below.

There were at least 40 known Siberians who had the kennel name Of Bow Lake during the Snodie - Seppala affiliation. Some of these dogs were sold. Others were kept and used for breeding. Most of the dogs on the following list were the result of breedings between Bow Lake dogs; and all of them were registered with that kennel name.

Czarina (F) 4Jan1951 White
Gromko (M) 4Jan1951 White
Ike (M) 10Oct1953 Gray & White
Kotzebue (M) 4Jan1951 White
Koyuk (M) 10May1950 White
Malick (M) 4Jan1951 Gray & White
Mona (F) 18Sep1954 Black & White
Nanook (F) 13Nov1957 White
Neda (F) 4Jan1951 White
Sasha (M) 10May1950 White
Sno-Sep (M) 4Jan1951 Gray & White
Snowie Blue (F) 28Jun1953 White
Stormy (F) 14Mar1954 Gray & White
Tootooch (M) 13Nov1957 Wolf Gray

There were quite a few other puppies produced by Bow Lake dogs who were sold and were registered with different names by the purchaser or new owner. For example, in addition to being the father of a few Of Bow Lake dogs, Stromboli was the sire of a litter of four out of Czarina, who were born on January 5, 1955. The purchaser registered this litter with the names Longs Peak B-Lo Zero, Artic Mist of Longs Peak, Artic Storm of Longs Peak and Czarina's Sonya of Longs Peak. Czarina OBL would go on to have
a litter of Bow Lake registered dogs in November of 1957.

Earl Snodie and Leonhard Seppala were actively involved with the kennel from early 1948 until the mid-1950's. Most of the dogs were born during this time. There were many Seattle area news reports about Snodie, Seppala and the dogs. Some of them had photos. A few examples of these reports include Snodie and Seppala running teams of the Bow Lake dogs at the Mt. Si and Snoqualmie Pass areas of the Cascade Mountain Range, east of Seattle. They exhibited the dogs at many local dog shows; and Seppala, in particular, gave both individual and team demonstrations of the dogs at various other local events.

After 1955, Seppala's participation in the kennel seems to have waned. He turned 80 in September of 1957. At that time he told the local press "Mowing the lawn is about the only workout I get anymore." Only a handful of dogs were born during the last few years of the kennel's existence. The number of local news reports about kennel related matters was negligible.

The last local news report found regarding Seppala's active involvement with the Bow Lake dogs was in January of 1959. The original plan to deliver campaign material for Seattle's March of Dimes drive by hydroplane was canceled due to a snow storm. Another method was found. The news report of this alternate plan starts out by saying "Seppala proved he could still drive a dog team....." It goes on to say ".....the Dimes March was kicked off by dog sled, and there on the runners, smiling, hearty and proud as ever, was Leonhard Seppala." The reporter ended the story by saying "And in his eye was a twinkle this writer will never forget."

Earl Snodie and Leonhard Seppala dissolved their partnership and the Bow Lake Kennel later in 1959. The six remaining dogs were given to Raymond and Ruby Thompson. Stromboli, Ike, Kotzebue and Malick were four of these dogs, as they were used for breeding at Ruby Thompson's 
Of Martha Lake kennel in late 1959 and the early 1960's. As of early December, 1962 three of the six Bow Lake dogs given to the Thompsons were still alive. One was 9 years old and the other two were 12.

In November of 1961 the Snodies sold their property and subsequently relocated to Arizona. The Snodie homes and the two addresses no longer exist, and haven't since the mid-1960's. The property was bought by an investment company. The land where the Snodie homes used to be now consists of several large apartment complexes and is part of the city of SeaTac, WA.

©2010 Lance Jensen

Source Note: Primary resources for this article -- King County Archives, Chicago Title Company in Seattle, Puget Sound Regional Branch of the WA State Archives, AKC Library, World Pedigrees Siberian Husky database, Seattle Public Library, The Seattle Times newspaper, and the book Seppala's Saga of the Sled Dog - Vols. 1 & 2, by Raymond Thompson


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