Yukon Queenie: Swiftest and Strongest Lead Dog of the Northwest?

Queenie cocker spaniel

Yukon Queenie

In this issue of our blog we included a photo of my mom with her dog Rocky, which brought back some childhood memories about my favorite hero dog–  and the wonders of radio.  TV did not arrive at our household until I was at least 6 or 7  years old.  Until then, radio was not only my window to the outside world but also a major source of drama and entertainment.

Radio family time

Our family would listen to programs like The Thin Man, Inner Sanctum, The Buster Brown Gang, Dragnet, the Lone Ranger, and Yukon King.  Unlike watching the yet-to-come television, listening to the radio gave us free range to visualize the characters and settings as the stories unfolded. 

One of my favorites, Yukon King, always started with this deep-voiced blurb:

It’s Yukon King
Swiftest and strongest lead dog of the Northwest
Blazing the trail for Sergeant Preston
Of the Northwest Mounted Police
In his relentless pursuit of lawbreakers.

To appreciate my take on this program you have to realize that I had no idea what a husky sled dog, let alone a Yukon sled, would look like.  You also would have to know that my Aunt Kathryn’s father had an English Cocker Spaniel named Queenie that I thought was the most amazing dog in the world.  You could put a dog treat on Queenie’s nose and she would not move until given a signal and then she would flip it up and catch it in mid-air!

So, when I heard Sgt. Preston bellow out, “On King! On you Huskies!” I envisioned a team of dogs pulling a sled (much like Santa’s) being led by an English cocker spaniel.  To my 5-year old brain, clearly a dog named King would look like a dog named Queenie.  So, when the bad guy drew a gun on Sgt. Preston in my mind’s eye I saw a Cocker Spaniel that leaped to save Sgt. Preston by grabbing the villain’s gun arm. Or when Sgt. Preston was injured in the woods in a freezing blizzard, it was  a Cocker Spaniel that went for help and barked and pantomimed to convince the puzzled deputy that Sgt. Preston was in dire danger.

The Adventures of Sergeant Preston and Yukon King

You can imagine how shocked I was when I saw my first episode of Yukon King on television. The heroic dog looked nothing like Queenie.  For me, it was almost as disorienting as when I learned that (spoiler alert) Santa Claus and the tooth fairy were parental hoaxes.  However, despite Yukon King’s macho look and husky breeding, I still seriously doubted that he would have been able to do the treat-on-the-nose trick.  

Thinking back on the wonders of radio, it seems as if we are coming around full circle.  One of my favorite sources of entertainment has become listening to podcasts.  I am addicted to such programs as This American Life, Radio Lab, and the New Yorker’s Fiction Podcast.  There is something very appealing about letting your imagination explore all of the potential visual accompaniments to these radio-like podcasts.  While a picture may still be worth a thousand words,  one’s imagination is surely worth even more.  

Lu Dog.jpg

My Radio Lab image

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