No Cats Allowed
Holiday festivities in Devils Lake in 1922 included many typical events … Christmas services at churches across the city, school Christmas pageants, a Boy Scouts band concert, and another free band concert scheduled for New Year’s Eve. A New Year’s Eve program at the Bethel Evangelical Free Church would offer coffee, jule cake and singing, followed by a watch night service in Norwegian.
But one less-typical event had dog owners excited – the annual New Year’s Day dog races, held under the auspices of the Boy Concert Band. On this date in 1922, the Devils Lake World reported that dog owners had their animals in training in anticipation of the big event. Some of the dogs seemed to take a great interest in the training, while others were far less interested, and didn’t seem to care very much whether they took part.
The rules were specific. All dogs were eligible to enter, regardless of breed or racing experience. All dogs had to be hitched to a sled of some kind, but any kind of sled would do. One race was for individual dogs. Another was for dogs in teams. Sled drivers could not be over sixteen years old. A driver could ride on the sled or run behind, but could not run ahead of the sled to encourage the dogs. Whips would not be allowed.
The course started at the Great Northern Hotel and went in a large square of several blocks, ending back at the hotel. Judges had volunteered to stand along the route, watching to make sure all rules were strictly obeyed. Citizens were asked to keep their cars off the course during the event.
There was a great deal of excitement leading up to race day. The prizes included skis, a flexible flier sled, a Boy Scout axe, skates, and a Boy Scout knife.
Oh, and one final rule … cats were not allowed, and should be kept off the streets during the race.
Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher.
Devils Lake World. “Many Dogs to Take Part in Annual Races.” Devils Lake ND. 27 December 1922. Page 1.