A Dog’s Life in the North Woods

Dr. A. E. Laszlo
Production Date: 
Hawley-Lord, Inc. (New York)
Run Time: 

Establishing shot:
Named locations:
Jennings, close to Teslin Lake, British Columbia, Canada
Major themes covered: reliance of Cree trapper on his dogs for hunting success and for survival. The dogs are important to the Cree Indians because they are perfect for traveling in the deep forests and carrying necessities and furs. They can also help hunting and gaming. The furs and skins snared from the trap lines are important for economic goods and family use.
Native activities shown:

1. Long and panoramic shot overlooking the landscape south of the Yukon. (00:24—00:28)

2. “South of the Yukon and north of the 55th parallel, lies a wilderness both beautiful and terrible to all but expert woodsmen, such as the Cree Indians who make this land their home.”… (00:24-00—00:35)

3. River crossing (men and horses) (00:35—00:48), Dogs crossing the river (00:48—01:13)

4. “An important feature of the party is the trapper’s small pack of dogs. They are of mongrel breed, husky, collie and wolf, extremely hearty, well trained and most important, to this expedition into the wild”  (00:48—01:03)

5. Unpacking the horses (01:14--01:22), packing the belongings into smaller packs (01:23—01:47)

6. “Only the essentials are included. These Indians have been living off this country for centuries. And even today, they require few of white men's so-called ‘necessities of life’” (01:23—01:40)

7. The man ties the smaller packs onto the dogs (01:50--02:31)

8. “ We do not normally think of dogs as beasts of burden. However, before horses were introduced to North America by the earliest Spanish explorers, Indians were using dogs as pack animals. They are never overloaded and they are quite accustomed to the work”  (02:33—02:48)

8. Dogs following the man into the woods. (02:50—03:03)

9. “There are no trails to the snow-shadowed deep north woods. But the Indians are home here. And the dogs follow faithfully and obediently”  (02:54—03:03)

10. Dogs taking a rest happily. (03:41—04:20)

11. “And how good it feels!” (03:47—03:49)

12. “Healthy dogs like to roll in the snow the minute the pack is removed. And they give their faces a good washing, too, just as many men do in the end of a hard day”  (03:57—04:07)

13. The man walks around the area alone. (04:24—04:59)

14. The man sets up a trap line with the dogs around him   (05:01—06:22)

15. “With his pack of dogs trailing obediently, the Cree starts out to set his trap line, just as the tribe has been doing for centuries (05:01—05:09)

16. “In doing this  great skill is used, for trapping is the principle occupation and main source of income of these Indians” (06:12-- 06:19)

17. The wife is collecting the snared squirrels  (06:22—06:35)

18. “The skins of these animals would probably wind up as fine fur coats on  5th Ave”  (06:29—06:35)

19. The trapper’s wife skins the animals. (but the audience doesn’t see the actual skinning process.)   (06:36—06:57)

20. The trapper and his wife work together. (06:58—07:11)

21. The trapper and his dogs walk into the woods in deep snow to check the snares and trap lines. (07:12—08:06)

22. The dogs running and hunting in the woods. (08:07—08:23) 

23. “All of the furs are taken for the purpose of selling in the trading post. However, the skins of moose and caribou are often kept by the trapper and made into buckskin for the making of moccasins and other articles for family use”  (08:24—08:39)

24. The trapper walks into the woods with his dogs again. No snow (possibly early spring)  (08:44—09:06)

25. The dogs are running and the game is located. A wild moose fights against the dogs.   (09:07—09:36)

26. “Rugged the often cruel and winter life may be for both Indians and the dogs in the wild of the far Northwest, this has been their  land and their way of life for hundreds of years. And they richly deserved all the rewards of their labors" (09:40—09:52)

27. “It’s the dog’s life all right for the man and the beast. But without the beast, the man could not survive.” (10:15—10:20)

Individuals Named:  Dogs: Kukutumtum (strong and brave), Tilikon (little friend)

Native language spoken: only dog names
Noteworthy elements:  
Other notes:

See also: Smithsonian Institution: http://collections.si.edu/search/results.htm?q=record_ID:siris_arc_276858