Wednesday, September 30, 2015

First Snow!

The forecast winter storm hit Two Rivers over the last couple days and it looks so pretty!

Everyone here gets enthusiastic for snow: dogs and humans. The temperature is hovering around freezing though, so we're not sure how long it will last. There was enough snow for Allen to take a team of five out with a sled yesterday so we're excited!

Luckily we managed to get the dog yard dozed just in time - we doze just before things start to freeze up in order to reverse the summer "landscaping" some of the dogs enjoy doing. Have a read of these two posts (this one and this one) from the last couple seasons that explain all about it.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Puppy Video - The Coffee Litter

Here is an introductory video of the "Coffee Litter". Aliy paced around nearly the entire day of September 23rd, always with a cup of coffee in hand. So… why not? The Coffee Litter.

First Born: "Barista"
Little Runt: "Coffee Bean" or Bean
Big Dark Girl: "Sanka"
Light Colored Girl: "Creamer" in honor of her Uncle Beemer
Mellow Boy: "Decaf"
Hyper Boy: "Percolate" or Perky

For any of you following the "In House" Olivia Pool, no one picked the correct date. We dropped all the SP Kennel Crew names in a bowl and picked a winner. Mark "the Chauffeur" won! He choose the name "Barista" for the first born.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Five Yearlings in Harness

The 5 "Five" yearlings are a fantastic group of dogs. They are excited, yet dedicated. They truly are the perfect combination of their resolute Mother, Chica, and their energetic and always hungry, Dad, Clyde. Only Scooby looks like his Mom. The other four youngsters are blonde variations of their Dad.

Here is a quick video of the FIVE during a short break on a training run in mid September.

Enjoy the youth and enthusiasm!

Thursday, September 24, 2015


The Olivia-Nacho puppies arrived earlier than expected yesterday - September 23rd. Olivia was in labor much of the day -- then whelped the first born at 4 PM and the last one about 6 hours later. We were up all night checking the little ones and are pleased to report that the six puppies are small but nursing fantastically. Mama O is, of course, an exceptional mother. The first four puppies were girls and the last two were boys.

The newborn nursery is in the Dog Room adjacent to the garage. They will stay in this heated room for quite a while. The nursery has a large whelping house filled with cedar shavings, plenty of fresh water for Mama O and a doggie door for a quick exit to the toilet.

Here are a few quick photos before we head back to watch the babies.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Dog Hauler Construction - Completed

The Dog Box Artist finished up the new SP Kennel dog hauler this week. The interior is even complete with wiring and lights. The SP Kennel dogs will truly be riding around in style this season!

The color of the new hauler was of some debate but once the doors were painted, there was no turning back. Notice the homemade harness hangars.

Of course, there was an inspection at every stage.

Is it going to fit?

Hollywood (the Dodge Ram truck) is really stylish now!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Copper Basin 300 Sign-Up

The Black and Red Teams will be racing the 2016 Copper Basin 300!

This year the CB300 committee allowed the top 10 finishers in the 2015 race the opportunity to sign-up before they open registration to all other mushers on October 3rd. This was because last year the race filled up in about eight minutes, such is the popularity of the race. As the Black Team won and the Red Team were 6th, both Allen and Aliy were able to sign up early.

The CB300 is a race Allen and Aliy enjoy very much. It really is "the toughest 300 miles in Alaska" and the kennel has enjoyed much success in this race. Allen and the SPK Black Team have won this race six times and Aliy and the Red Team have finished in the top 10 on multiple occasions.

2015 Copper Basin: Allen, Kodiak, Quito and the Black Team Champions; Aliy, Scruggs and Red Team sixth!

The CB300 has also been a great proving ground for many of our youngsters as they negotiate some of the most difficult terrain and sometimes, extreme weather. For some of them it is the first real test and they've gone on to great things with this race under their belt/harness.

So, look out for the Black and Red teams when the race starts on January 9th in Glennallen! We're excited!!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Slow Mo Sunday: November 2012 Training

These clips are from a beautiful November day back in 2012. There was not yet enough snow yet for sleds but it was cool enough for a training run in the hills.

Music: Dewdrops by Apple Inc

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Olivia's Due Date is One Week

Olivia is the Diva of the sled dog world - she knows it, we know it… the world knows it. Whenever there is an Iditarod advertisement, Yukon Quest fundraiser or simply a dog mushing magazine article, you'll find a glamour photo of her. She is a poster girl and has had centerfold layout in numerous mags. (Hey now… don't let your mind wander! No wardrobe malfunctions from this girl.)

Yes, Olivia is a celebrity. It's a tough job being a celebrity: always looking good, howling at the correct time, staying fit, not biting photographers and don't forget those Instagram and Twitter posts - if you don't get those correct, you're down the tubes ASAP!

So, you can imagine that for the last few years the SP Kennel Crew has been overwhelmed with Olivia in the Spotlight. Now as a middle aged gal, this pregnancy has taken even more effort from her support staff. Yes… it was an intended pregnancy with her long time boyfriend, Nacho. But still, the stress of it all has required extra support from us all.

Now, Olivia's next big adventure is only one week out! Her due date is September 26th. Since there is such a high intensity atmosphere at the kennel, we have decided to add a little stress relief. So, we are having an "in house" Big O birthday guessing pool. Those of us here at at SP Kennel… chewing our fingernails and pacing… have all thrown 1 dollar into the kitty (or "puppy$" as we like to call it!) We've made a chart listing all of Olivia's Support Crew and their jobs.

The winner of the pool must guess the correct date and litter size. If there is a tie we will draw one of the tied names out of a dog bootie. If there is no correct guess we'll draw a winner out of all the Support Crew names. The winner not only gets the "puppy$" (the $23 kitty, NOT a cute little fur ball) but will also get to name the first born.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Biscuit Awarded "All-Star Status"

Biscuit's birthday is September 14, 2005 and today he is a proud and distinguished 10 year old SP Kennel dog. We've added him to the SP Kennel All-Star Page today! Here's why...

What can we say about Biscuit that hasn't already been said?

As of Fall 2015, Biscuit is not retired from racing. He finished so strongly in the 2015 Iditarod that he is in harness and training today. Despite the fact that he isn't retired yet, Biscuit has certainly already qualified as an All-Star!

Biscuit is as tough as they come. He is the best wheel dog in the business and can maneuver in the trickiest spots. The wheel position is often an underestimated position in the team. With our Howling Dog harness and line system, the wheel position isn't necessarily the best spot for the biggest and brawniest dogs. Since a wheel dog must always go under the mainline when switching sides, he or she must have tremendous agility, quickness and smarts. Biscuit has all of that and more.

Biscuit is one tough character with a very gentle side. He has never been a cuddly dog. He doesn't give kisses or enjoy ear scratches. But, boy oh boy, does he love a butt scratch. When you walk up to greet him he presents his haunches and playfully looks over his shoulder saying "go on, scratch my butt!" He will stand there for hours if you can hold out. He will 'coo and moan' as you rumple the fur on his rump. We have even noticed that his offspring, Felix and Mismo in particular, enjoy a rump scratch as well.

As an 8 week old puppy we noted "He is vocal and secure. A tail wagging dog!" As a yearling the comments were "Biscuit looks really good now - strong and excited to go! One of the strongest yearlings ever."

We have chosen to perpetuate Biscuit's All-Star genetics. He and Quito have had two litters together. These 11 puppies are now the team members with the most enthusiasm and energy on an SP Kennel team today. In 2015, all but three of them raced in the Iditarod.

Biscuit starts his eighth Iditarod! (front right)

Biscuit has also been known to lead the team, but only during the most challenging times. He lead Allen and the 2013 Yukon Quest team during a horrendous blizzard. This quote is from a YQ Checker in Eagle. Mushers "... had a terrible time coming over American Summit. There were high winds and snow and blizzard conditions that knocked out the trail and replaced it with large drifts. Hans Gatt was in a bad way and almost hypothermic from sweating so bad trying to break trail for his team. David and Mike went out with snow machines to help show the way and had a terrible time getting through with the snow machines." Allen put Biscuit in lead during this storm and he and Allen worked together to get the team to safety. Again in 2015, Biscuit found his spot in front of the team during the wind storms out on the Western Coast of Alaska during the Iditarod. Allen said he let "the Old Man" take charge for at least 300 miles through some rough weather.

Biscuit has started the Iditarod eight times and finished seven. In 2014 he was dropped from the team, for the first time in his racing career, in the Ruby Checkpoint simply because he was tired. His age was starting to show during the fastest Iditarod race ever. Biscuit is a multiple Yukon Quest and Copper Basin champion and has raced in just about all there is to race! His first distance race was the Tustemena 200 along side his sidekick and brother, Tatfish.

Aliy says: "Biscuit is dedicated and true to himself, his musher and his team."
Allen says: "Biscuit has always had the heart of a Champion."

Biscuit turning 10 years old is shocking because, honestly, you wouldn't know it if you saw him! He has the enthusiasm of a two year old and, although he doesn't have the speed of one, can still enjoy playing around in the field during the summer alongside his offspring or racing down the trail during the winter.

Biscuit is truly an SP Kennel All Star!

Click here to go to the All Stars page to see Biscuit, and all our other All Stars' Team Cards.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

If it's Not Broken...

As the saying goes…

"If it's not broken, don't fix it."

Well, after a 'puppy free' summer we are now looking forward to a litter born on or about September 27th. And as that saying dictates… why not keep doing what has brought us so much success. So, here we go! Olivia and Nacho are the expecting parents.

As many of our long time kennel fans know, Olivia and Nacho are the parents of the four 3 year olds: Kodiak, Lydia, Dutch and Junior; as well as the eleven 2 year old siblings from the Fire Litter: Chena, Spark, Coal, Torch, Daisy, Hotshot, Commando, Violet, Amber, Nomex and Tinder (pictured in that order below.)

Puppy Portraits: 3 year olds Kodiak, Lydia, Dutch and Junior; 2 year old Fire Litter.

Olivia is already quite round, therefore we are expecting a large litter. She has never had complications with her pregnancies so we are hoping for the best. Olivia is 8 years old, is very fit and will be the great mom that she has always been. This pregnancy will obviously keep her out of training for several months. We hope that, if all goes well, she will start training after she weans the pups in the beginning of November. We will have to be very cautious as we bring her back into training and she might even have to sit our first few races. Time will tell.

We will give you a weekly update and, of course, an announcement!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Fall Colors

Training begins in the early mornings when the temperatures are cooler. It seems that just before and just after sunrise is currently the best time to hook up our dog teams. Sunrise is always an amazing spectacle on the trail!

The eastern horizon just at sunrise.

As the sun comes above the horizon and lightens up the day, it shows us the beauty in the Fall colors. The tree line is a vibrant yellow. And the shrubs are yellow, orange, red and all of the hues in between. But don't forget those ever greens - they will be with us through out the winter.

Fall colors close ups - don't forget the ever greens!

Enjoy this video from the morning training run:

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

'Name The Faces' - the Answers

Thank you to all of you who had a go at our first "Name the Faces" competition. We hope you had fun identifying everyone. Our winner is Jana Leal - congratulations!

L-R Kodiak and Scruggs are in lead, then Scout (centre) and Boondocks in swing, followed by Nacho and Chica (just her ear can be seen), Willie (centre) and Biscuit, Mac and Dutch with Felix and Chipper in wheel.

Here's some tips for identifying some of the faces in this pic:

Kodiak is a brown coloured Nacho. You can clearly see in this pic the similar expressions and markings of the two, just different colors. You will see him in lead a lot this coming season.

Scruggs and Olivia are lookalikes. Big O's white forehead is more rounded than Scruggs' (and he sometimes has "goggly eyes" in photographs - go take a look at some others if you don't believe me). He's also leggier than Olivia.

Most people got Scout correct. He's got a distinctive reddish colour and he looks just like his Mom ChaCha. Scout's ears are laid back against his head in this photo which was deceiving. Boondocks is smaller than any of the other grey dogs at the kennel. She also has a distinctive white spot on her forehead that can be seen in this photo.

Willie was one not many people picked. He is almost 10 pounds smaller than Clyde and is slightly darker. Outlaw is lighter (almost white). "Outie" is a tall, thin version of Willie. It is true that our blonde dogs are very similar (and now we also have Ernie in training!) But, Willie is one of the best SP Kennel team dogs ever. He is so good, so well behaved and so consistent that perhaps we don't talk about him enough! Sorry buddy.

L-R: Willie; Clyde; Outlaw (All from 2013 Portrait Day.)

Biscuit / Felix / Mismo / Izzy: Yes we know they all look sooo much alike huh? Biscuit has slightly rounded "eyebrows" compared to Felix's who has very pointy peaks in his widow's peak. Mismo also has pointy eyebrows but he is slightly lighter in colour on his face (and he is also enormous!). Izzy has a brown body, not black.

L-R: Biscuit; Felix; Izzy (All from 2014 Portrait Day.)

Mac appeared to be the easiest to identify as everyone got him right.

Dutch has a pronounced widows peak with quite a dark streak down the middle of his forehead.

Chipper, well, she's just a tiny, brown, enthusiastic gal with pointy ears and a big attitude! This photo epitomizes her attitude because in the wheel position, we shouldn't really even get a good glimpse of her tiny little body… but, Chipper isn't one to be ignored, so she is standing on her hind feet and jumping up and down in order to get into this photo.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Slow Mo Sunday: 2014 Copper Basin

Allen and the Black Team of Quito, Scout, Chica, Olivia, Boondocks, I.V., Nacho, Schmoe, Willie, Puppet, Biscuit and Felix won the 2014 Copper Basin!

In this Slow Mo Sunday video you can get an up close look at the champion team leaving Glennallen, arriving at Chistochina and Lake Louise Lodge checkpoints then coming home in first place.


Music Elysium by Apple Inc

Friday, September 4, 2015

FBF: Fall 2014 - Name Those Faces and Win!

Flashback Friday only brings us one year back.

Can you name all 11 faces in this great pic from last year's fall training?

Although there are 12 dogs on this team we will let you get away with naming 11 of them. There is a tricky ear hidden in the middle. This photo was taken by Jeanne Schnackenberg in October last year. It's an awesome shot and shows all the emotions of the dogs… "Let's get going!!!"

Email us on: with your name and your answers before Sunday, September 6, 2015 - 8PM Alaska time. We will draw one of the correct entries out of a hat and send the winner a black SPK ball cap!

This is an easy one! Our "Name Those Faces and Win!" series will get harder after this one!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

September 1st - Training has started!

Fall training is officially underway here at SP Kennel.

The temperature this morning was a brisk 34 degrees Fahrenheit. There are plenty of large puddles in the trail for quick breaks.

It was a perfect morning to run five teams a few miles.

The neighborhood in Two Rivers is already a happening place with our mushing neighbors underway in training as well.


Here is a very short video showing some happy SP Kennel dogs in harness!