Dogs in Antarctica
Tales from the Pack
Oscar was labelled a lazy dog with “dirty habits” by members of Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1914–1917) – until he saved their lives.
Surviving members of Shackleton's Ross Sea Party credited their "lazy" sled dog Oscar (pictured) with saving their lives. No know copyright restrictions. Canterbury Museum 1975.231.36
Oscar had travelled to Antarctica on the Aurora in 1914 as part of the Ross Sea Party, the support crew for Ernest Shackleton’s attempted overland crossing of Antarctica via the South Pole.
He was part of a team that pulled expedition members suffering from scurvy to safety in a snowstorm while they were laying down supply depots. The crew credited him with saving their lives.
Oscar was one of hundreds of dogs who pulled sledges and provided companionship, and at times food, for explorers on the great Antarctic expeditions.
Stories about Antarctica usually focus on the heroic humans who explored the continent, but none of their feats could have been accomplished without the work and sacrifice of dogs like Oscar.
These canine characters had tales of their own to tell. Learn about their exploits, what they ate and the equipment they used in Canterbury Museum’s exhibition Dogs in Antarctica: Tales from the Pack.
The exhibition features photographs and objects from the Museum’s significant Antarctic collections and video interviews Frank Graveson and Peter Cleary, one of the first and one of the last dog handlers at Scott Base.