This story is dedicated to all the pets missing their owners. Whether an outdoorsy black lab, a kelpie ute dog or a house bound pampered pooch, they are missed.
I have lost my dog. Hopefully someone can help me find it. I am not the only one to have lost a dog in Antarctica however.
Early dogs in Antarctica
Although there has been the odd cat in Antarctica, Mrs. Chippy on Shackleton’s ill-fated Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition being the most famous, it really is a place for dogs.
In 1911 Amundsen won the race to the South Pole. His party used dogs both for pulling his sleds and for food. Of the 52 he started with, 41 dogs were lost.
Scott made it to the Pole shortly after Amundsen. However he did not like dogs (more a cat person perhaps?) preferring the ‘more noble and splendid’ art of man-hauling his sleds. Sadly it did not end well for him.
Douglas Mawson lost most of his provisions, dogs and beloved friend and fellow expeditioner Ninnis down a crevasse on the Australasian Antarctic Expedition. He and Mertz were forced to eat the remaining dogs on the way back to base. Vitamin A poisoning from the dog livers killed Mertz and left Mawson in a very poor state when he finally made it back. All 17 dogs were lost.
Dogs at Mawson
Huskies arrived at Mawson early in 1954. They lived and worked hard for many years, forming close bonds with the expeditioners. In 1991 the Madrid Protocol banned any non-native animals from Antarctica except humans. So in 1992 most of the dogs were sent to Minnesota, USA, to continue working where they could. The following year the last six huskies left the station to retire in Australia, and so Mawson lost all its dogs.
Some of the dogs have since returned. Noogis hangs out in the pool room with his block of Pemmican and Vida is on guard in the red shed foyer. Misty’s ashes are in the dog room along with many photos of the dogs on the walls.
Another lost dog
Another Antarctic dog that more recent expeditioners may have encountered is also missing. Stay the guide dog has not been seen for some time.
Stay is a female apparently, although it’s hard to be sure — a golden white labrador who in a former life helped collect money for the Guide Dogs Association. Although made of strong stuff (fiberglass) she only has three legs. Her missing leg has been replaced with a wooden prosthetic.
Originally sent to Mawson in 1991 in response to the pending departure of the huskies, Stay has since travelled extensively. She has visited many of the Antarctic stations and field camps and has even spent time in the high Arctic. There is even a book on her and she has her own Facebook page.
Alas Stay has been missing since she got back from Commonwealth Bay last summer. She helped with the rescue of passengers on the Akademik Shokalsky then boarded the Aurora Australis. After that no one is sure. A recent sighting at Macquarie Island got a few people excited but unfortunately it proved to be only a cardboard cut-out.
I was lucky to have wintered with Stay at Casey in 2004. She went on several adventures with us including to the top of Law Dome and out to Cape Poinsett. A faithful companion, Stay always got us back in one piece.
My lost dog
So we come to my lost dog.
While working outside the operations building I noticed that on the plinth for one of the antenna masts there are paw prints of the last huskies to leave Mawson. There is a plaque description: “Paw prints from the last huskies. Departed Mawson 15th December 1993”. Below each paw print is a bronze plate with each dog’s name on it. Elwood, Welf, Brendan and Morrie are there but two were missing. I found Ursa in the snow nearby but not the sixth name plate.
So if anyone can help me with the name of my lost dog, let me know. We can then make up a new name plate and get this lost dog back to his home.