SP Kennel is a premier sled dog racing kennel in Two Rivers, Alaska, dedicated to the individual dog through excellent health, nutrition, training and specialized care.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Pupdate

The Olympic Litter: Gold, Prata and Bronze have just turned 8 weeks old. They are sassy and fully of energy. They seem to be the perfect combination of Quito -- with her quick wit and smarts -- and Clyde -- with his endless appetite and charging energy. They spend time rotating between pens and have found the "Plaza" (just outside the basement door) to be their current favorite. The pups have been exploring the forests and trails all around the neighborhood.

Here are some great photos that were taken by our good friend Donna Dewhurst. She has been taking awesome Alaska pictures for many years. She has had her work in Alaska Magazine and several other publications. Donna and her husband, Scott were in Denali National Park last week and were able to drive the 3 hours north and east to SP Kennel for an afternoon of dog fun.

Check these pictures out: Amazing!

GOLD


PRATA


BRONZE


HERE are more photos from Donna.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Kennel Artwork

Back in April, Aliy and Moira attended a fundraiser in Fairbanks which annually raises money to advance the rights and needs of women, children and families in Alaska.

Aliy donated a kennel visit and sled ride for the outcry auction and, in turn, won an auction item herself. She won a wall Mural to be hand painted by local Alaskan artists, Barb and Bev. Last week the mural was completed! We now have quite the special "Map Feature" taking up an entire wall of our garage.


Barb (with Gold) and Bev start the project; Group selfie with Mural.

We spend a bit of time in the garage during the long winter months: packing drop bags, fixing sleds, weighing and vet checking dogs, sorting booties, etc, etc. So, it goes with out saying, this awesome additional is certainly going to brighten up the room and add some conversation!

Thanks so much Bev and Barb - we love it!!

See the cabin in the center of Alaska? That's us!!!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Woody is home!

After a summer season, working as a lead dog on a glacier tour team, Woody has come home.

We were very excited to see him and welcomed him with tasty treats (thank you Heidi!) and many pets. He will have a bit of time off between carting around tourists -- with Chris at the helm -- and jumping back into pre race training here at SP Kennel.

Woody looks GREAT!

Woody camping out with some "Summer Friends" in Juneau.

Friday, September 23, 2016

The New Season's Yearlings!

Each year the pups from the previous summer become our "yearlings". This officially happened TODAY for the Coffee Pups who were born exactly one year ago. The "Goldies" will not turn a year old until October 11th.

One of the absolute best things about running a kennel is seeing the new generation start to find their feet and learn which way is forwards. At the end of last season we managed to get the Coffee Litter out in harness for the first time - check out this video of their first run. In the spring the Golden Harness litter was still a little small and immature to start so we waited until the fall to get them in harness.

Since training season has started we've had the babes out a number of times running amongst some more experienced team mates.


Hotshot and Cayenne in front, Bruno behind; Champ and Sanka in front, Outlaw and Creamer middle, Dancer in the rear.

We will post a more detailed account of their individual antics as the training progresses. You'll see from this video (taken today, September 23rd) that the all have their "sled dog" legs under themselves.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Training Season is underway!!

With the first day of Fall comes the first day of training!

We're excited to get back on the trails of Two Rivers and into the 2016-17 season!!



Right now the runs are at dawn when it is cooler and are very short, in fact it takes longer to harness the team than to run! We will slowly build up mileages and mix up the terrain ready for the season ahead.

Are you ready?

Friday, September 16, 2016

New Name Plates

There are many Fall chores to complete before the snow flies. Cleaning out dog houses and attaching new name plates is just one. Allen, Aliy and all the SP Dogs know in which dog house they reside but not necessarily every helper or visitor to the kennel knows who is who. ("No that's Willie… he is furrier and wags his tail slower. Ernie is thinner and wags his tail rapidly. And Clyde has a very pink nose.")

It is important that there is some sort of guide to the madness of returning dogs to their spots after a training run or Chemo will absolutely go eat Nomex's food before trotting over to his house, right next door, and then eating his own kibble. Then poor Nomex returns and "Hey… What the heck/?!?!?" Or Scout will saunter around the entire yard with his tail curled up, claiming: "I just can't remember where my house is." LIAR! He's lived at the same house for 8 years.

Anyhow, name plates are great and helpful. But, because SP Kennel sled dogs are still actually dogs (chew chew chew), they do not last for years and years. The rain, snow, sleet and dog teeth get the best of many name tags annually. It is a big task to cut, paint and write the dogs' names (legibly). That task has fallen on Aliy's Mom, Mickey, for the last 10 years. She takes it seriously and sprays the completed signs with a shiny gloss protecting.

Look and see:

New name plates are sorted 'carefully'; A dog yard map - just in case you get lost. HA! -

Scruggs really wants to help with the screw gun; Ta Da… the final product.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Congratulations Boondocks!

Boondocks has moved house! We are very, very happy and sad at the same time.

Boonie has an exceptional history with SPK and is a Yukon Quest and Copper Basin 300 champion. She's finished second in the Iditarod twice.



She is feisty and confident and always amazed other mushers and spectators with her small size but giant-size spirit. She doesn't know she's small and often enjoyed running with the big guys - Mac, Mismo and Driver. There are several incongruous photos of her with the big boys. Once at McCabe Creek hospitality stop during the Yukon Quest she was running next to Mac. While Allen had the team stopped to check-in, Boonie was standing actually UNDERNEATH Mac's belly. Even in the middle of everything else that was going on, Allen stopped to look and laugh.

Boonie is one of those dogs that would choose to sleep outside on the cold nights then inside her house on the warm evenings. When we put fresh straw in her house she would dig some of it back out again and make a nest alongside. We never did figure out why. She was extremely vocal and any time we did any videoing out in the yard you can hear her giving her two cents worth. Someone getting treats from the Fan Club biscuit barrel? Boonie wants one too!


Boonie and Rosie are ladies at leisure

At eight years old it was time for her to move on to the next chapter in her life. Boonie has moved to Washington State to live with Lynne along with old SPK friend, and Spice Girl, Rose.


Boonie rides the ferry to work; making new friends

Boonie has never really been an "inside" dog so she had some acclimatising lessons before heading to her new home and she is settling in very well. Boonie and Rosie spend lots of time together, (right: out hiking) no doubt reminiscing about their racing days and congratulating each other on their new amazing home.

Thank you also to Yo-Lynne and Kotzee for sponsoring Boonie for so many years. We appreciate the support you gave to Boonie and the kennel as a whole.

Boonie: we will miss your attitude, quirkiness, opinions and sweet face terribly but we're all so pleased for you! So long little lady.

--------------------------

It is interesting that we get some comments from the general public and other mushers that might not understand the bond between SP Kennel mushers and our dogs. If it's not clear - we always do what we think is best for our dogs. These decisions are not made quickly and emotionally. Sometimes we have to curb our emotions and logically think: what is truly best?

Let's be honest, when our dogs retire, it is simple: They deserve more quality time than we can give them. We are incredibly busy people. To think that we could keep all our dogs at SP Kennel in a coveted 'retired yard' and daily promise to take them on walks, bring them to the couch or make some cuddle time for each of them … but only after after we finish all our chores, training, cleaning and oh yea, racing… that is simply a lie. So, why lie to your self and your dogs?

The thing is, each individual musher must decide what is best for them self and their dogs -- the same goes for every pet owner in the world. We are not in a competition of who can respect your dog the most. Our competition is out on the race course. We have enough to do at the kennel with our own dogs that we will not micro manage others musher's kennels. All we can do is hope that everyone does what is truly best for their dogs. -- Aliy

Friday, September 9, 2016

Puppies - WAKE UP!

Good morning kids.
Time to wake up.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

2016 Pre Season Report Series: The 3 Year Olds

Before the 2016-17 Dog Mushing season starts for us, we want to take the opportunity to go through the SP Kennel dogs in depth. This will be a Series of videos showing our Racing Dogs grouped by their age class. These videos are shot while Aliy and the dogs are in one of the kennel's 'Play Pens'.

Here are the 3 Year Olds

The Fire Litter:
Part 1


Part 2


Champ and Cayenne:



We generally say that our Racing Dogs are between the age of 2 and 9 years old. The youngest and oldest of these dogs will usually compete on the less competitive JV Teams, whereas the dogs who are between 3 to 7 years old are often on the Varsity Teams. There always have been, and surely will be, exceptions to the average.
The Yearling Class will also have a chance to compete in limited Races during their first season in harness. However, the Youngest Class -- the Puppies -- will not be in harness until they are mentally and physically able to succeed. This depends upon what time of year they were born and their genetics. They could be in harness as soon as Spring or as late as Fall.
Remember that all of our dogs are individuals and there are no “Age, Gender or Size Rules” at SP Kennel. Every dog gets a chance to race.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Pre Season Report: Rambler

There is one more 9 year old at the kennel: Rambler.
He is also part of the 'Car Litter' and is therefore a full sibling to Scout and Olivia.

While he may be at the kennel this Fall, he will not be in harness. Rambler was diagnosed with Cushings just over a year ago. This disease is very challenging to diagnose and to treat. We have been lucky to have done both somewhat successfully.

Basically, Rambler's adrenal gland is overproducing the hormone, Cortisal, to a lethal degree. Too much of any hormone is bad and this one is no exception. Rambler's overproduction of Cortisal has been reduced with a daily dosage of very expensive drugs. The drugs target the adrenal gland which is the organ that is responsible for producing Cortisal. So the primary and life threatening effects of Ramblers disease have been reduced but he still looks half dead to anyone who meets him for the first time.

A minute or two after a person gets to know Rambler (nicknamed 'Lambchop' for his resemblance to the cartoon hand puppet), they realize that he is still a vibrant, somewhat amusing, healthy-in-his-own-way, entertaining, sled dog (who YES… looks half dead.) Rambler's husky coat -- or lack of one -- is really what makes him stand out from the rest.

If we are being honest, he adds absolutely no benefit to the Race Team this season. None. He might even subtract a little if you think about him riding on the back of the ATV as we train the Race Team.

But perhaps in the future, all competitive sled dog teams will include the position of a coxswain (like in rowing competitions). That way Rambler would be in charge of:

  • Providing motivation and encouragement to the team
  • Inform the team of where they are in relation to other teams and the finish line
  • Make any necessary race tactic calls

… he might even be better at that than a musher, eh?



But as Aliy will tell you, if you ever stop in for a cup of coffee, "I originally got into sled dogs because I liked dogs. Plain and simple. And you know what? I still like them today."

Rambler will live at SP Kennel (usually curled up on a dog bed with whichever stuffed 'Lampchop' he chooses for the day) until the time comes when he can no longer hold his head high.