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Review of a Dog Sports Book

The Training and Racing Journals
of Roland and Louise Lombard

by Nancy Cowan |
Click to order this book

Roland "Doc" Lombard is one of the great sled dog racers of the 20th century, having competed both in his home territory, the New England region, and on the famous race trails of Alaska, with Siberian and Alaskan huskies. This volume provides rare insights on the training and racing he and his wife Louise did. Click for the full review.

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Training and Racing

Journals of Roland
and Louise Lombard


Lombard Journals
rom the Author

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   Review of a Dog Sports Book, continued

The Training and Racing Journals
of Roland and Louise Lombard

by Nancy Cowan

This new sled dog book is a unique combination of elements, making it a valuable volume for the bookshelf of any serious musher or lover of sled dog history and lore, including Siberian Husky and Alaskan Malamute fanciers.

Author Nancy Cowan has been writing aspects of sled dog history -- especially in her home region of New England -- for some years now, this being her fifth sled dog book. In that process, she has made available to dog lovers and mushers a wealth of resources hidden away in boxes of photographs or diaries or, in this case, the training journals of one of the 20th century's most famous mushers, Doc Lombard, and his wife Weezie.

Among the important elements in the book are photos of key Lombard dogs and teams, fresh insights on how Doc trained and evaluated his dogs, and many charts with training miles that show how his  teams were conditioned for  championship competition.

To make this book review as meaningful as possible, I have created "sidebars" of information about Doc's racing exploits, especially listing the years he won the big races in Alaska.

Alaska Sled Dog Wins:
Roland "Doc" Lombard

Open North American

Championship, Fairbanks

1959, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1966, 1967 - See all

ONAC Champions

World Championship Sled Dog Race, Anchorage
1963, 1964, 1965, 1967, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1974
See all winners of the
World Championships

also called the Rondy

Tok Race of Champions
Won Tok 7 times
See historic photos

A veterinarian, Lombard had special knowledge of dog care and is crediting with helping all sled dog racers learn about the need to water their dogs during races.

The journals cover many of these key years when Doc was a force to be reckoned with on the most demanding race trails in America.  Nancy reports in the book's introduction section that the training notebooks and racing yearbooks that Weezie gave her access to stood two feet high when piled up.

The new book begins in 1945 with a unique set of data about how long it took twelve New England mushers and their teams to cover 100 miles [or other listed distances for some], with Bill Shearer of Foxstand Kennels (Siberian Huskies) fastest at 523.17 minutes with Doc Lombard and team (Siberian Huskies) close behind at 540.34 minutes, while Weezie apparently driving Alaskan Malamutes took 742.22 minutes. While there is no indication that this was a race, it is still an interesting comparison of team speeds in those days.

The detailed journals begin in earnest in 1947 with careful details about the training conditions, individual dog performance and much more.  Many insights on training strategy can be derived from the many charts and entries that cover the years -- with some missing -- up to 1988.

To fill in for some of the years, Nancy provides letters that Doc wrote home from Alaska to Weezie and their son Ronnie. Some readers will find these especially enjoyable because of their narrative style.   Noteworthy are his letters from 1958, his first year racing in Alaska when he is learning about the challenges of the rough Alaskan trails and the competition from tough Alaskan teams. 

As you read, you witness Doc recognizing he will need to move up to a new level of training and dog capability to remain as competitive in Alaska as he had been in New England.  In a February 1960 letter he wrote:  "Well, the race is over and I lost. I have the fastest dog team in Alaska, and no dependable leader."

The Mushers, the Competition

Scattered throughout the book are the names of famous mushers Doc raced against or bought dogs from or visited.  For example, he records visits to Earl and Natalie Norris of Anadyr Kennels near Anchorage, and racing against the likes of Gareth Wright, Bergman Sam, George Attla and many more.  In February 1962, he wrote of Attla: "George Attla from Huslia came in with an unbeatable team, sixteen dogs. Can you imagine being behind 16 top dogs?"  If we read between the lines, we realize that Doc is already thinking about how to acquire more such top dogs for his own team.

The Dogs

And of course the dogs. Doc wrote of dogs he purchased, for example, Bullet, a two-year-old he got from well-known Alaskan racer Bergman Sam (who was from the Koyukuk region as was George Attla) for his 1967 racing season.  Of Bullet he wrote:  "2 yr leader, real go-ahead dog, doesn't gee/haw.  Short legs and heavy built. Doesn't look like speed, but actually shows promise. Very ambitious."

Doc Lombard's Training Wisdom:   Enjoy a sample of Doc and Weezie's training approach in this article by author Nancy Cowan.

Early Siberian Husky History: 
Doc Lombard's Igloo Pak kennel was influential, especially in New England

See the role of the Seppala strain Siberians in Lombard's
Igloo Pak Kennels

Louise "Weezie" Lombard raced Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies, as shown in an history photograph from the
New England Sled Dog Club

NAC History:  See Doc's place in the history of racing in Fairbanks, Alaska, including the North Americans

The Siberian Huskies are there too, including his leader Chuck as well as the famous Tok and others, not as a focus but present.

Final Thoughts

Doc Lombard was a major force in sled dog racing for many years and this new book gives both serious racers and dog lovers something of value.  This is not a volume of narrative chapters, so requires readers to "dig in" and explore the many entries to develop greater meaning that the text alone provides.  But clearly it belongs in the libraries of all who love the sport of sled dog racing or love the sled dog breeds such as the Siberian Husky and Alaskan Malamute.

Review by Barbara B. Petura, Webmaster
Member, Dog Writers Association of America

AUTHOR: Nancy Cowan is an award-winning writing about sled dogs and racing, a sport she once competed in, and about falconry, her current passion.  She is a master falconer and rehabilitates wild peregrine falcons. Her fascination with sled dog history began in the late 1960s when her husband and his Siberian Husky came into her life.  She lives today in Deering, New Hampshire, with two hunting dogs, five raptors and her husband.

PUBLISHER: Nancy Cowan, First Edition, March 2004

OTHER BOOKS:  By Nancy Cowan

Available NOW - order online or from the author
The Training and Racing Journals
of Roland and Louise Lombard

In 1990, the sled dog world said good-bye to one of its all-time greats, Dr. Roland Lombard. He  was well known for his championships (8 World Championships, 6 NACs, 7 at Tok, 3 years holding Alaska’s dual-championship title), as a founder of ISDRA and SEPP,  past president of NESDC.  He bred and raced some of the fastest Siberian Huskies to set foot on snow, and initiated the spread of Alaskan Huskies beyond the Alaskan racing trails.

Behind the championship exterior was a man of sweetness and good humor, combined with a tremendous love for his dogs and a steely will to win.  The book  is comprised mainly of diary-like entries from the training and racing journals written by Roland and by Louise, his wife and his team handler on most occasions.  It is the first definitive work on this internationally admired sprint racer and on the sport’s most beloved couple.

Journal entries begin in 1945 and continue through 1989.   Also included are highlights from seven years of letters written by Doc. Including training tips, Doc’s lists to himself for things “to do” and “to pack”, detailed hitch diagrams, weight charts and more, the book covers championship sprint racing in a way in which it has never before been seen.

star-red.gif (874 bytes) Book available online at
Click below to order
Training and Racing Journals
of Roland and Louise Lombard

star-red.gif (874 bytes) Book also available from the author
at $50 to addresses within the USA,
including shipping & handling,
with payment via check, money order or PayPal.
Nancy Cowan
183 Deering Center Road
Deering, New Hampshire 03244  USA

Prices are higher to locations outside the USA
and also include shipping & handling.
For details on these prices, contact Nancy Cowan at
Telephone:  603-464-6213


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