Outdoor Life - August, 1924


American Dog Derby Champion

A. W. Spring


JUST one minute and fifty-seven seconds ahead of his nearest competitor, Olcott Zarn, sixteen-year-old high school boy, piloted his dog team over the twenty-five-mile snow trail to victory and won the American Dog Derby held at Ashton, Idaho, in February.

"The Kid," as he is known to his friends in Idaho, by winning the race in 2 hours 22 minutes and 40 seconds, outfought and out-maneuvered seven veteran drivers of dog teams and accomplished the thing which he resolved to do in 1921, when only thirteen years old.

Olcott Zarn has owned a dog almost all of his life, and even when he was just a small youngster drove a dog hitched to a wagon or sled.

After running in the Dog Derby in 1921, Young Zarn decided that he would raise his own dogs for future races. Four of his team, Rover, Zip, Wallie and Rex, all thorobreds, were raised and trained by him.  And it has been no small task to feed and care for a hungry, growing family of canines.  These four dogs are two years old and were just in the pink of condition to put up the fight which they did in order to carry their young driver to victory.  Fritz, his lead dog, is a three-year-old German and Belgian police cross of thorobred parentage.

In the winter time after school hours Olcott Zarn drives his coal black pets  to a sledge and visits his boy friends in neigh-boring towns.  In the summer and fall when there is no snow, he hitches the team of dogs to a wagon and goes up into the hills to camp, fish and hunt.  His wagon is large enough to accommodate two boys, a camp outfit and plenty of supplies to last a week.  On such trips he is never afraid of wild animals, as his dogs would not permit any harm to befall him.

After running in the American Dog Derby in 1921, Olcott Zarn determined that he would give every spare moment to the training of his dogs until he could win the championship.  He ran in 1922 without success.  In 1923 he finished third of ten entrants.  The difference in time between the first and second entrants was only fourteen seconds, while the fifteen-year-old boy was only six minutes behind the second driver. 

Since that race a year ago he has labored long and patiently with his five dogs, and in order to give them good practice drove them to a wagon in the dog races held at the Idaho Falls roundup last fall. 

When he entered the race last February, he found among his competitors such veterans of the trail as "Tud" Kent, four times winner of the race; "Smoky" Gaston, last year’s champion, and "Shorty" Russick of Canadian fame.  But "The Kid," who drew third place for the start, swung his dogs into the trail with the skill of a seasoned racer.  At all times he proved himself master of the situation.

With the shouts and cheers of 8,000 spectators ringing in his ears, he crossed the goal line with one of his dogs lying exhausted on the sledge.  He had taken time enough to cut the exhausted animal out of the string and to bring him in safely on the sledge.

His days and hours of training had brought the American Dog Derby championship to him, and his time was just nine minutes more than the best time ever made on the Ashton course.


Below are cover, Page 113, Page 114, and back cover of the August, 1924 issue of Oudoor Life.


The images below are from a Real Photo post card.  The enlarged view shows Zarn's exhausted dog as he nears the finish line.