Saturday, June 20, 2009

Iditarod 2009: Aliy Zirkle's "Trail Notes"

Once again, Aliy has done a truly incredible job of telling the story -- the whole story -- of her Iditarod race. As you will see, it has been a monumental effort!

If you want to know what the Iditarod is really like from a musher's perspective, you won't find a better resource than this anywhere!

Thank you, Aliy!
Click the image below to open the PDF file in your web browser, then read it online and/or print it for later reading. The PDF is a 2.4 MB file, so it may take a moment to load. Please be patient... It's worth the wait!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Happy's School Debut: The Rest Of The Story!

Aliy recently posted a couple of photos and a little write up about her visit to Badger Elementary School in North Pole, Alaska. There's a little more to the story that I think you will enjoy, so here goes...

As Aliy and I were getting ready to leave the Kennel for the drive to the school, I asked her what she had in mind for her presentation to third graders. She said, "Well, first I'll talk a little about the dogs, the Iditarod and all that stuff, then I'll bring in a dog for them to meet." I asked, "Who are you going to bring?" She replied, "I usually bring Stormy because she's always so mellow around all the kids. Why? Who do you think I should bring?"

I figured that since she asked me I should go ahead and say it: "I think you should bring Happy."

Aliy laughed out loud and said, "You're kidding, right? Happy will totally freak out with all those kids around! Don't you think?"

"Nope," I said, "I think Happy will be great."

And so it came to pass that we loaded two dogs in the truck and drove down to North Pole: Stormy the mellow pet dog and Happy the unlikely star of the Iditarod. Although Stormy got to be the dog who went inside to visit the kids in their classroom, I think you will see in this video that Happy was fantastic.

Happy just amazes me. First she runs the Iditarod as her first race and finishes, then here she is "Happy Dancing" her way through another difficult first experience around a lot of kids. When you see how she handles their "up close and personal attention" at the end of the video, I think you'll be amazed, too!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Summer on the Alaska Railroad

Jaime, A Park Ranger in Denali, and Allen wait in front of our train

Every Monday through out the summer Allen and I work on the Alaska Railroad. We ride the scenic double decker Princess Rail cars for 60 miles through the Alaska Range. We travel into Denali National Park and often witness the glory of Mt. McKinely or the antics of the Alaska grizzly bear or moose.

While the train travels north, we walk through the cars and talk to over 400 Alaska visitors every week. We tell stories and talk personally about our lives with sled dogs. People seem to really enjoy our presentation. Often we need to pull ourselves away from these great folks who want to learn all they can about Alaska life.

Hopefully, most of these folks are future Iditarod enthusiasts and more specifically, SP Kennel Fans!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Hoss has retired!

Some sled dogs race until they are in their twilight years and some dogs don't. People always ask me how I know when to retire a dog. I'll simply ask you to look at these pictures and you will understand. It's not that Hoss wouldn't lead another SP Kennel team to the Iditarod finish line - he's been there 5 years in a row, it's something else...

Tom first met Hoss five years ago on one of our North Slope Mushing Adventures. There was a bond. Both were reliable hard workers, but they had a mellow and sometimes carefree attitude. Tom and Hoss have been in coorrespondence ever since.

So, Tom and his wife, Cindy, stayed at the kennel this past weekend and Hoss followed them home to Pennsylvania. His biggest adjustment will be to their kitty, he has already mastered the couch. (And, yes... there were some tears at the airport.)

Thank you Hoss for your years of sled dog passion, you will be missed by the team.