When I was a boy my folks taught school in rural Alaska. In 1949-51 we were in a village in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region, where wolfdogs were common. My father had a team of three such dogs. The Yupik people there intentionally cross-bred their huskies and malamutes with wolves because the wolfdogs had “hybrid vigor.” They were more vigorous and had more stamina than the sled dogs, which were low in wolf mix.

Unfortunately, the mixed breeds were also more aggressive. A childhood friend of mine was killed when he tried to break up a fight amongst harnessed wolfdogs from different litters. He was 13 years old. We were told that the wolfdogs needed to be chained up all the time because they were dangerous to children.

I respect both dogs and wolves, and it saddens me that any healthy animal might have to be euthanized. But the state law against keeping wolfdogs was based on sad experiences, as these incidents were far more common than any present-day people might comprehend.

Don Poling