Tuesday, May 5, 2015

SP Kennel All-Star - ChaCha

Happy 14th Birthday ChaCha!

The successes that SP Kennel has had over the last few years have been partially due to very selective combination of genetics. The dog that has contributed most to the successful SP Kennel gene pool is ChaCha.

These days, ChaCha surveys the dog yard from her prime position on her dog bed in the lounge or outside from the deck. She has a "coffee table crate" in the lounge where she sleeps during the day and goes upstairs to Aliy and Allen's room at night.

There was a time, not too long ago when she was the kennel's top racing dog and "Queen of All The Things" (just quietly, she really is still the Queen of All The Things despite what Quito thinks). ChaCha has an attitude the size of Alaska with a heart to match. Aliy uses the word "sassy" often when describing her.

Currently ChaCha has a dozen of her children and 25 grand children on the Dogs and Puppies rosters. Can you pick them all?

Cha's "coffee table crate" in the lounge; upstairs during the night

ChaCha was born at Husky Homestead in the summer of 2001. Her mother, Alberta, whelped the ‘Dances’ litter: Rhumba, Lindy, Tango and ChaCha. Her father, Yuski, was originally born at Susan Butcher’s kennel.

ChaCha ran Iditarod eight times, won multiple mid distance races and was SP Kennel’s ‘go to’ lead dog for many years. She has always been smart, fast and ultra competitive. She would bark outloud for miles when she was excited or if she saw competition ahead of her. ChaCha is also exceptionally friendly and sweet. She wags her tail at everyone and kisses anyone who will let her. Even more amazing is the fact that during her successful years as a sled dog athlete she also had four litters for a total of 25 puppies. For the past six years, her puppies have been the core of every SP Kennel team. They are well known because they are smaller, happy and fast!

When the idea for a Kennel All-Stars page was first formed there were several dogs that immediately came to mind. ChaCha is one of these dogs. Quite simply, she is one-in-a-million!

There are few framed photos in Aliy and Allen's kitchen but one that has pride of place is this one (right) of ChaCha with her son Dingle at the start of 2011 Iditarod. It makes us all smile whenever we see it, such is the joy on both faces.

Back in 2003-4 Randy Chappel was training and racing at SP Kennel and one of the dogs on his team was a two year old he purchased from Husky Homestead. Here's Randy's story:

In the summer of 2003, I was coming off a 29th place Iditarod finish as a rookie under the fantastic tutelage of Aliy and Allen. In an effort to add a few dogs for 2004, I headed south from Two Rivers down to Jeff King’s place near Denali in my dog truck. He had put out a list of some dogs for sale, and I had a certain older leader in mind that I hoped could help out my 2004 Iditarod run. Unfortunately, when I got there, that dog and a couple others I had been thinking about had already been sold.

Well, I had driven a long way with cash in pocket and I really didn’t want to go home empty handed. And, I guess Jeff sensed that as well, as he thought for a while and then said he had one other dog that hadn’t really been for sale that maybe I would be interested in. This dog had great bloodlines but had spent her whole yearling season in some kind of a cast, unable to run. As I recall, she had just recently had the cast off. Anyway, he took this little 35 pound girl for a very short run with me, and then said he would sell her to me. Without thinking, and being intent on not coming home completely empty-handed, I forked over the cash. And, that was how I came to own ChaCha. Instead of the highly experienced 6 or 7 year-old good sized leader and a couple team dogs I had come intending to buy, I instead found myself loading my dog truck with just one dog - a barely two year old, tiny dog that had been injured her entire adult life to that point and never been down any race trail ever. Who knew if she would recover in time for my 2004 run? Who knew if she would recover EVER?

As I turned north on the Parks Highway to begin my 150 mile trip back home, buyer’s remorse started to set in, big time. I sheepishly called Aliy on my cell and explained what I had just done. “Broken leg all last year, huh?” she said. “Yep,” I replied. She asked about ChaCha’s bloodlines, which she immediately told me were fantastic, and then asked, “Is she spayed?” and I said, “Um, no.” Aliy said – “Well, you may have gotten lucky there. Jeff really never sells dogs with those bloodlines without spaying them or neutering them first.” Then Aliy summarized the whole deal with this: “Well you either just made the dumbest dog purchase you’ll ever make or the smartest dog purchase you’ll ever make – we shall see!” Of course, as time has shown, it was the luckiest, best dog purchase I ever made.

ChaCha immediately showed her amazing attitude, great speed, and despite her previous injury problems - she was always healthy! ChaCha really emerged at the 2004 Knik 200 in which I finished 5th, only 32 minutes behind the winner, Ryan Redington and only 29 minutes behind Aliy who finished second. I had no business finishing that far up, but ChaCha drove my whole team forward and demanded the rest of them keep up. At the finish line she was as happy as could be and ready for more, while my other leader, 8 year old Jazz looked relieved and exhausted as he laid down right as we crossed the finish line and looked at ChaCha like, “What the heck? Where did this youngster come from and why is she making us go so fast?”

A couple months later during Iditarod 2004, still as a two year old, she then led us in single lead across the Norton Sound from Shaktoolik to Koyuk when the rest of the team and I were really struggling. A star was born. The next year I moved back to Texas and ChaCha went to live with Aliy and Allen and the rest is history!

Congratulations and many thanks from me to ChaCha! - Randy

Kennel Mom Mickey has a special affinity with the other Kennel Mom ChaCha. She shares a particular memory from 2007:

I do have a vivid memory of her a few days before she delivered the Car Litter, her second litter. Cute little Cha Cha face, a wagging tail and strong little legs that looked like toothpicks under her huge balloon body. I was afraid she would burst before those pups came out the proper way. Finally she produced 8 pups out of that petite body. One mom putting herself in another mom's shoes. We were both relieved when delivery was over.

Below is a "Meet the Dogs" video from November 2008 with Cha as a seven year old superstar at the top of her game.

Congratulations ChaCha from all of us on your induction into the SP Kennel All-Stars Hall of Fame. You deserve it. Good girl!

Click the button below to go to the SP Kennel All Stars page!


Patricia Lewis said...

Fabulous stories! What an amazing start. Congratulations to the original Queen -- Cha Cha.

Anonymous said...

Oh lovely ms ChaCha! What a great story. All you say about her friendliness is true! shes a great Grandma and example of Husky leadership. Thanks SP Kennel and Aliy, and ChaCha you are all All Stars!
Padee Santa Rosa CA

Anonymous said...

Love this! It's so much fun reading about the dogs! Congratulations Cha Cha!!

Anonymous said...

I was just thinking the other day about "who will step up after Quito?" and what big booties those were to fill. And then I remembered that I had the same thoughts when it was Cha Cha's time to retire and how would it be racing without that fabulous girl?

Congratulations to you Cha Cha. You raced with heart and grace and passed it along to all your sons and daughters.

I too have a picture of Dingle in my dining room hutch I see every day. How fitting that he join his mother on the SP Kennel All Star roster.


Wendy said...

I read Cha Cha her SP Kennel Post today, and wished her happy birthday. She yawned, gave me a kiss, and rolled on her back for a belly rub in the sunshine...She'll be surprised to find a few extra Yummy Chummys in her dinner dish tonight.

Happy Birthday, Cha Cha!

Anonymous said...

Well now, heck.. Got me all teared up..
What a great back story on a fabulous dog. We will be sure to tell it to Beemer and Viper often... Especially on Mother's Day.
See you soon,
Tom & Cindy

Cindy Schaus said...

That was such a great tribute to an awesome dog, ChaCha still looks beautiful at 14 years of age. I wish I had been connected to all of this when she was actively racing. I will definitely be looking at all the dogs on this site to see her racing lineage. Thanks so much!

0300jh JeanneHammel said...

I loved this story! What great insight into the history. Congratulations Cha Cha!

Nessmuk said...

Happy Birthday and Congrats on the Induction to the SP Kennel All Stars ChaCha!! I love the back story of how she came to be at the kennel.....that's what ya call Fate!! Makes me smile hearing how she spends her days now in retirement....what a life! What an awesome dog!!

Kathy said...

Thanks for the posting--love to read
about the SP Dogs. The King & Queen
are in the All Stars! Happy Birthday
Cha Cha Well Deserved Rest!!
SP Kennel is The Best!!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Happy Birthday, and Happy Mother's Day to Cha Cha!

That is an amazing story of how she came to SP Kennel and became a super star. Thanks for sharing it with us.


Mary Lynn said...

Wonderful stories! Happy BDay Cha Cha!

Gaye Morgan-Walton said...

What an awesome dog and a real success story. Yep, after ChaCha was Quito and after that there will be a daughter or granddaughter to carry the torch! Yep, I am partial to girl dogs LOL but I guess it could be a son or grandson too. Anyway bloodlines will tell and there will always be special amazing dogs at SPK and Aliy and Allen's special touch will make them even better. Happy retirement to this wonderful girl.

Mary W said...

Cha Cha is darling!!!!

A-town's Becky said...

Happy Birthday and congratulations Cha Cha!
A perfect choice for expanding the SPK Hall of Fame.

From Royal yet humble beginnings to having her tribute ready by Wendy. :-)
It's awesome that you included her in the Mushing Superdogs article.

You asked, so...
We have Cha Cha to thank for her pups:
Beemer, Olivia, Rambler, Scout, Viper, Boondocks, Lester, Scruggs, Waylon, Willie, Clyde, Outlaw, the dynamic dozen!

And her grandpups:
Schmoe, Scooter, Sissy, IV, Chemo, Dutch, Junior, Kodiak, Lydia, Amber, Chena, Coal, Commando, Daisy, Hotshot, Nomex, Spark, Tinder, Torch, Violet, Ernie, Five, Ginger, Rodney, and Scooby, twenty five full of life.

We'll have lots of talent reminding us of Cha Cha for years to come.

Excellent tribute, thank you!

Heidi Phillips said...

ChaCha, what an awesome girl you are. I was so glad to meet you this summer. As I recall Aliy was talking to us and explaining the tread mill use for training the dogs and ChaCha was "making her rounds" it was awesome to see how she was just doing her thing. Perfectly polite and content.

Cheers and congrats to you ChaCha You are and All Star!


Margaret said...

To wonderful All-Star ChaCha--I post this comment again because I can never say it enough times!!!


Happy Birthday ChaCha!!!

Thanks so much for getting me interested in your exciting sport.

ChaCha is a role model for all little girls who were and are 100% fighters and competitors, because life is a sport, too!!!

We now sponsor your granddaughter Chena, who I hope is a chip off the old block!!!

You are my sports idol, ChaCha, love,


marilyn cozzens said...

Happy Birthday ChaCha & a big Congrats into All-Star Club What a fabulous story & a fantastic purchase by Randy! The picture of Viper & ChaCha is a perfect capsule of SPK -the dogs are so bursting with joy and happiness. ChaCha your pups and grandpups will burnish your All-Star and legacy even brighter.
I am glad I was able to meet you last summer, what a super friendly dog.

Anonymous said...

In his book, Jeff King admits that selling ChaCha was probably a mistake, yet if she had stayed with him, I doubt that she would have fulfilled her potential since his kennel was so large then and he churned through so many dogs. Glad she ended up at SPK and the foundation of your breeding program.

Linda Toth said...

I knew that ChaCha come out of Jeff's Kennel, but I never knew the details .. just a great story and well told by Randy. Congratulations ChaCha on a long and happy life in a loving home that appreciates all you have done for them.

Margaret said...

Tonight in my town there is a Public Hearing by our Board of Selectmen regarding requiring all dogs to be on leash at public parks.

On the one paw, this is taking away a dog's right to play, but on another paw, there are complaints of danger to children playing playing in the parks...

I wonder what ChaCha would say?

Anonymous said...

This story was so much fun to read.
What a great idea for the All-Stars. A
great way to get to tell the stories. Thanks for the inspiration SPK!

Anonymous said...

Happy happy birthday Ms. ChaCha!!
Loved hearing your story of how you came to SP and are a founding mother of so much goodness there!


Anonymous said...

I have read that a persons eyes reflect their soul , think the same must be true of dogs . Cha Cha has such soft lovely eyes . One can tell by looking at her eyes in her pictures she is a sweet , intelligent, lovely, determined dog . Thank you all at SP Kennel for all you do

Love and congratulations to Cha Cha

Anonymous said...

Stay cool, ChaCha!!!



Rose Lewis said...

Excellent stories and tribute. Always amazes me that as dear and as loved as my dogs are, I never tire of hearing about other dogs' endearing qualities. So many different personalities and temperaments and traits and so little time on the planet to revel in all of them. Glad SPK got the chance to know ChaCha and vice versa. Glad ChaCha got to live the intimate contact at SPK! A match made in "heaven".

Gaye Morgan-Walton said...

Love what Rose said. Everything really does happen for a reason. What a wonderful dog ChaCha has been and her pups carry on the great tradition. Lucky dogs!!!