Friday, November 29, 2013

Mushing through the Sunset

We captured a lovely afternoon of dog mushing through the sunset.


Thursday, November 28, 2013


We're thankful for:

  • the lives we have lived 

  • the life still ahead of us

  • the love of our family and friends

  • the dedication, commitment and joy in our dogs

  • Waylon greets every day with a smile.

    Wednesday, November 27, 2013

    Yearlings at Work Video

    We put together some footage from four different yearling runs over the last few days to give you an idea of what goes on when the yearlings go out! It's kinda long but we hope you enjoy it.

    Sunday, November 24, 2013

    SP Kennel Dog Fan Club Details

    IT'S HERE! The SP Kennel Dog Fan Club kicks off today!

    You will find two new pages on the doglog - the first one gives you information about the Fan Club and instructions on how to join. Click the button below to take you to this page.

    The second page is the Fan Page itself with pictures of the dogs along with the names of their fans. Click on the button below to take you directly to the Fan Page.

    Every two weeks, starting December 1st one lucky Dog Fan will win a prize pack; the Fan's dog will get an extra handful of biscuits from the "Dog Fan Biscuit Bucket" and at the end of the mushing season all Dog Fans will receive a postcard from Nome (or Two Rivers) following the Iditarod.

    For a limited time, if you have already "supported the doglog" and wish to switch your "team", "wheel", "swing" or "lead dog" support to become dog fans please email us on before December 15 and we will happily switch it over for you.

    Please note also that the fan page doesn't automatically update, we do it manually, so we will try to keep up with demand as much as possible. We will update the page at least twice a week.

    Friday, November 22, 2013

    Yearlings - Hard at Work

    The "Yearling" Class this season is hard at work. When you consider that these youngsters first got into a sled dog harness six months ago, then watching their progress is amazing. This is the season when sled dogs learn the MOST. Can you imagine?

    They are training in harness on a very regular schedule - almost like the big dogs. But, our goals are four-fold with yearlings:

    1. Keep them happy (thus wanting to pull and run all the time)
    2. Teach them manners (absolutely necessary to work in a big team)
    3. Keep them healthy (you can't expect a scrawny youngster to work hard)
    4. Look at individual success
    At the beginning of training, the months of September and October, the yearlings train with the adults. They are in harness and running beside some of the ultimate All-Stars of the game. Can you imagine Driver's expression when he was hooked up right beside Nacho. "Gulp! Hey Dude." Or Sandy next to Mac. She acted like a 12 year old girl in love. "Hi there... Ummm, I'm Sandy." 

    So, as the season progresses the Adult Racers have their own advanced training schedule. Some of these dogs have been through the ropes for years - they understand the how training works. Once they are comfortable and fit at a certain mileage, that mileage increases and their fitness increases. This happens in relatively small increments and enough "days off" are thrown into the program that these adults find them self happily fit and - ready to roll - by mid November.

    The Yearlings have their own training schedule at this point. Unlike the Adults, they have no idea what to expect. Every time we increase their training mileage on a run, it is the first time they have ever gone that far. So we need to make these mileage increments small for the yearlings to succeed.

    You also have to remember that the Adult Racers understand that whenever they are harnessed they might run 20 miles or 1,000 miles. Like a human marathon racer not a 100 yard dash sprinter. Since these veteran dogs have this long-distance concept ingrained in their mind they understand to not pull as hard as they possibly can. They pull just hard enough to keep the sled moving and travel at a reasonable speed. Therefore they can go for 300, 500 or 1,000 miles. 

    The Yearlings do not have this long-distance concept ingrained yet. So, they leave the kennel pulling their hearts out: always 100% of their energy and enthusiasm. They only learn that they need to take it easy and pace them self when the training mileage increases and they start to get tired - they can't physically pull at 100% anymore. At first, they might not understand getting tired. Their tug lines will just naturally go slack when they simply have no more energy. This usually happens quickly in a young dog: "Dutch was doing great then all of a sudden on the steep hill at 12 miles he stopped pulling."

    What you have now is a dog who wants to please you and do his/her job but physically can't. This is not the time to get angry with that dog. He or she is trying as hard as possible. So the trick is to watch each youngster individually and try not to push them too much. If they reach this point once in a while, that's okay because they are learning. But, you can not have a dog reach this point over and over again because then you are teaching them it is Okay not to pull. So, we will cut back on mileage, speed or intensity if a dog reaches this point too often or too soon compared to the rest of the Yearling Class. Just like a student being kept back in 3rd grade for two years - we want to make sure that each dog learns at a level in which they can succeed. 

    So, the question is: How are the SP Kennel Yearlings doing so far?
    Chipper is a sassy small gal and she likes to run the show. When she gets tired on a training run, she plays with her neighbor. She would also rather go fast then slow and steady. When Chipper started to get tired on training runs we cut her miles back so that she can focus on her job not her running partner.
    Driver is a big lug of a guy. He has learned to take it easy after 5 miles and has been able to pace himself through an entire training run. This is surprising since he is quite large and many times a larger Yearling will take longer to develop.
    Dutch is still the sweetheart. He always wants to please his musher. He has gotten tired once in a while, but changing up the speed and length of his runs have helped him understand to pace himself.
    Iron is the best looking Yearling. He is powerful yet not lanky. From a distance, he looks like an Adult. But, he doesn't act like an adult. Meghan even mentioned the other day "Iron is going to have to put his Big Boy pants on pretty soon when I harness him." Iron has a habit of pinning himself on the ground in excitement whenever you approach him with a harness. This does not make him easy to manage. But he thinks it's fun and his tail is usually going a mile a minute.
    Junior is very talented. She has been bumped up to an Adult Racer training team twice and has run in lead on a Yearling training team. Her fault is that she puts out so much energy that she comes home and wants to sleep - not eat. So, we will have to watch her weight because if she doesn't eat enough then she won't be able to perform. 
    Kodiak is gorgeous. He had some issues with manners early in the season but is completely reformed. He is steady and somewhat understands the long distance concept. 
    Lydia is a driving demon. She wants to pull 100% all of the time. So far she has been able to do that and keep up with the Yearling training schedule. She was tired only when she got home from the run yesterday. Lydia has run in lead in a Yearling team and has even passed other dog teams.
    Sandy is a healthy little girl. She has a "can do" attitude. She has adapted to a comfortable trot on all of the training runs which is a huge learning stage. A sled dog can trot forever (or at least 1,000 miles!)
    Wedgy has minor tendonitis in her rear leg. She was doing well when this became an issue. She had several weeks rest and is now back in training. But her training runs are now quite short so she goes out with the Retired team on short fun runs. We hope to build her mileage up slowly.
    Woody was doing great then he got a stomach bug. He didn't eat very well and lost too much weight. He has been moved front-and-center in the yard and now is babied and fed as many times as he cares to eat. Once he gains some weight he will be back with the Yearling program. Currently he is training with the Retired team.

    So that's the Yearling Update. We will keep you informed through out the season on their individual progress. It is always exciting to watch these youngsters grow, learn and become part of the SP Kennel Team.

    Wednesday, November 20, 2013

    Dog Mushing Basics

    Take a look at our new "Dog Mushing Basics" page!

    On this page we describe the traits of the fabulous Alaskan Husky and explain some basic terminology and the different types of mushing. Our intent is to address some of the common questions and queries we've had in letters and emails over the years.

    For those of you who have been around the traps for a while this will be nothing new for any novices or "yearlings" out there, we hope you find this useful.

    We continue to strive to be the most entertaining AND informative dog mushing website.

    Tuesday, November 19, 2013

    Yukon Quest Fundraiser

    On Saturday night the "Bunny Boots and Bids" fundraiser was held in Fairbanks to raise funds for the 2014 Yukon Quest. There were loads of fantastic silent auction items to be bid on and and the out-cry auction raised some big money! Would you believe a $300 cheesecake? (Reportedly the best cheesecake in the world!!)

    There were several mushers serving hors d'oeuvres in their tuxedo best and our very own Allen Moore decided this was the year!

    It was a great night for a great cause!

    L-R: Meghan and Ray in the front row of the out-cry auction (can you spot them?); Aliy and Allen; Allen and Moira

    Do you remember the 2013 Yukon Quest?
    If not... this should bring back some memories:

    Music: Stanhope by Scotty MacLeod

    Monday, November 18, 2013

    Visitors from Zimbabwe

    A couple of weeks ago we had a visit from Dennis Gaboury and Tinashe from Zimkids Orphan Trust in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Dennis started the trust as a support community for children who have lost one or both parents to Aids. The children sew dolls which are offered for a small donation and the new owner receives a thank you note from the child who made the doll. All of the money goes to that child's home for the well being of that family unit.

    There are 160 orphans at the Trust. The project has grown and now a donor has helped build a center for the kids where they can sew dolls, get tutoring and medical care. There is a huge garden, areas for teaching skills such as welding. They have an outdoor stage for performances too. There is a library. Tinashe helps Dennis with the project when he is back in the states.

    Aliy and Tinashe pose with the two SP Kennel Huskys heading back to be with the kids in the orphanage in Zimbabwe.

    Read more about the Zimkids Orphan Trust at

    Sunday, November 17, 2013

    The puppies play in the fresh snow

    What could be better than 11 puppies playing in the fresh snow?

    Friday, November 15, 2013

    Introducing... Shiner

    When Aliy and Allen went to the village of Allakaket, above the Arctic Circle, this Spring to compete in the Koyukuk River Championship Sprint Race they wanted to bring a dog home with them. Allakaket is where Aliy got one of her first sled dogs: Fats. He is the grand-daddy or great grand-daddy of many of the dogs at SP Kennel today. Aliy and Allen walked through at all of the village dog yards looking at dogs. As it turned out, the perfect dog was actually living in the dog yard where Fats had come from 20 years ago! So Aliy and Allen convinced the dog's owner, Steven Bergman, that his cute little blue-eyed female should come live in Two Rivers with them. Only after serious contemplation did he let her go.

    Shiner has been at SP Kennel since April. We have been teaching her the ways of our kennel: no arguing, learn to find your house on your own, enjoy your freedom yet come when called, and work hard in training. So far she is doing well! She turned two years old in September and we are excited to see how she develops. Shiner is the only adult newcomer to SP Kennel since Puppet and Fang came to us 2 years ago. Shiner has big strides ahead of her to try and fit into a Championship long distance kennel - but she's doing her best!

    Shiner has blue eyes and a tough face - just like Fats did! Maybe there is even a distant family resemblance.

    Shiner is sponsored by long time SP Kennel sponsors Deb and Hunter Davis.

    Wednesday, November 13, 2013

    Training in the Snow

    It finally snowed and we are certainly making the most of it!

    Monday, November 11, 2013

    Moira is hard at Work

    We got in the other day from training dogs and Moira echoed my feeling entirely when she said "How are we supposed to get anything done today? It's already nearly evening!" SP Kennel mantra has always been: "There is too much to do!" Since dogs always come first, the Dog Log, Fan mail and correspondence (other than canine correspondence) come second.

    But, Moira is dedicated to our Dog Sponsors, so as soon as she thawed out, she went directly to the printer and began her 'non canine job' at the kennel: computer guru and printer whisperer.

    Moira has nearly all the Glam Shots, Dog Cards and Note Cards printed out for SP Kennel Dog Sponsor Packets.

    It isn't all fun and games when a person sits behind a computer all day long. So, to reduce "office frustration" Moira had a little help from 8 week old puppy, Cayenne. She wasn't sure about the MacBook Pro - she might be more of a Windows 8 dog.

    Cayenne helps Moira update her Facebook Page.

    Saturday, November 9, 2013

    Copper Basin 300 Sign-Up

    SP Kennel will be fielding three teams in the 2014 Copper Basin 300!

    The race starts on January 11 in Glennallen, Alaska and will run in a counter-clockwise direction. Checkpoints include Red Eagle Lodge at Chistochina, Paxson Lodge, Sourdough Creek, Lake Louise Lodge and Tolsona Lake Resort. The race finishes back in Glennallen at the Hub.

    Reigning CB300 champion, Allen returns to the race he has run 11 times and won four times. The Black Team will go out in 30th position. Aliy, who has run this race six times, will run the Red Team and leave immediately after Allen in position 31. This will be Meghan's rookie CB300 and she will be running the Red & Black Team. She leaves Glennallen in position 41.

    Team rosters will be posted on January 10th so watch the Dog Log!

    Check out the Copper Basin 300 website for more information (click the logo below)

    Friday, November 8, 2013

    Two New Puppies at SP Kennel

    We are extremely happy to introduce you to Champ (left) and Cayenne (right). Their Mother is SP Kennel All-Star Nutmeg (from the Spice Litter) and their Father is a current SP Kennel Superstar, Nacho. This was a planned breeding before the arrival of Olivia's Eleven in mid July. Meg's pups were born September 7th. She had complications during labor and needed a c-section. Meg was a first-time 9-year old Mama, but she and the pups are doing well now. She is sleeping with both pups during the nighttime but spends most days in a pen right next door.

    These two puppies are such a great reminder for us of who we are and what we stand for. The Spice Litter was a phenomenal litter because we gave them the chance to be great. They weren't the huge, burly male dogs that so many mushers "need" to compete. In fact, they were far better. They got us up the ladder in dog talent and desire to please. And of course, their parents were some of the best dogs ever at the Kennel - AJ and Ash. Aliy can still picture AJ winning the Yukon Quest with her 13 years ago. The Spice Girls (and boy) were all HEART and when they were racing, they were dedicated to US. To breed that with Nacho's genetics, physical talent and happiness is exactly where we want to be now! It's exciting to connect the past with the future.

    Cayenne is sponsored by Lynne Danielson (Spice Girl Rose's longtime Dog Sponsor.)
    Champ is sponsored by Eunice Thaeler (Spice Girl Meg's longtime Dog Sponsor.).

    Wednesday, November 6, 2013

    November Training

    Early November training is going well. The SP Kennel adult racers are on a similar schedule to last season's plan. We are gradually increasing their mileage which improves their endurance along with their attitudes. We like each dog to come back from a training run and be tired but not exhausted.

    The yearlings are training at a slightly slower rate than the adults. These youngsters are basically teenagers who are experiencing everything for the first time. Our yearling team learns from positive reenforcement and praise. There's nothing better than training a young dog to love the sport of dog mushing as much as we do.

    Chemo and Beemer lead the team on the left and I.V. and Ranger lead the team on the right. There were a total of 31 dogs, two mushers and two ATV 4 wheelers on this 3-hour training run.

    Training sled dogs is challenging. Our dog always give 110% in harness. So, it is our responsibility to never ask them to do more than is good for them - physically or mentally. The ultimate goal is to bring healthy and happy dogs to the starting line of some fantastic races later this season.

    Monday, November 4, 2013

    Nomex Howls

    The FIRE litter is getting older. They are no longer tiny little puppies. They turn 4 months old this coming weekend. As the pups grow they are changing in subtle ways. Spark's fur seems shorter, Tinder's nose seems pointier, Coal's black stripe seems lighter, Nomex's ears are lopsided and Commando seems HUGE. They are becoming individuals.

    Nomex's ears are quite unique.

    The eleven pups go on two walks per day - morning and evening. They spend the afternoon separated in two play groups (randomly selected). They spend the night together in a large pen snuggled in their 'duplex' accommodations.

    Each pup gets quality time indoors as well. We have a brand new "Coffee Table Kennel" in the living room and everyone is getting a chance to check it out.

    Nomex spent the afternoon indoors a few days ago. He played with toys, chewed on stuff that he wasn't supposed to chew on and taught Aliy and Allen the correct way to howl. All in all, it was a very entertaining day.

    Saturday, November 2, 2013

    The Fall Training Howler is out now!

    The Fall Training Howler is available now for you all to enjoy!

    In this issue we give you a run down on fall training and tell you about the retirees from last year. We also put the spotlight on the "Outlaws"!

    Read the Howler to find out about website updates and improvements and upcoming features including the "Dog Fan Program" and about other outreach opportunities Aliy and Allen have had over the summer.

    Click on the image to the right to link with the November Howler.