Friday, June 30, 2017

Chemo Moves to the Adirondacks

As you know, every year we retire select dogs from their racing careers to very select Forever Homes. It is always a happy and sad time for us as they move on to another exciting phase of their life without us. Our philosophy always has and always will be: "the right home, for the right dog, at the right time". (Read more about Aliy's philosophy about retirement in this story about Hotshot.)

That "right home at the right time" arrived for Chemo earlier in the summer. Mary Beth and Elizabeth have sponsored Chemo for several seasons and have followed his fortunes closely, even coming up to Alaska twice to see him. A couple of years ago they expressed interest in adopting him once his racing days were over and have kept in touch ever since.

Chemo is such a lovely boy. He is quite a sensitive soul and can be a bit shy when meeting new people but is very loving and affectionate to those he knows. Aliy wrote of him after Iditarod 2016: "Chemo is an honest, carefree addition to any team. He is genuinely a happy character and likes to travel down the trail. He stayed healthy throughout the race and slowly moved his way farther up the team as we neared the finish. Chemo is definitely talented, but sometimes I had to convince him of that fact. I think he dug pretty deep to finish this race and I am proud of him for that.

We are sad to see Chemo leave the kennel but at the same time so very happy to hear about his new life in the Adirondacks. Thanks to everyone who ever joined Chemo's fan club.

Good boy Chemo!


Here is the rest of the story from Mary Beth:

We were thrilled and honored to get an email from Aliy asking us if we were still interested in providing Chemo his well deserved Forever Home....we responded with YES, ABSOLUTELY!!

We have spent four wonderful racing seasons watching our Sponsor Dog race with SPK, and it's a dream come true he is now here with us at our Adirondack Homestead! His first seven years were fantastic and exciting...and we hope he will find life here in the “Dacks” equally fantastic and exciting...he is off to a great start!

He has already become my "fishing dog", you know, the kind of dog who enjoys just sitting on the stream bank as you fly fish and not swimming right through your fishing hole! I actually created a fly pattern using Chemo’s under fur dubbed on a hook (with the way he sheds, I got a lifetime supply) along with some moose hair Aliy gave me for the wings...I call the pattern "Sled Dog Caddis" and it has caught many a brook trout for me this spring with Chemo watching from the bank!

He is of course the Lead Dog of Team Adirondack, and we have already covered 72 miles of trails with the PawTrek Scooter (a scooter specifically designed to be used with dogs)!! Whiskey, our three year old male German Shepherd is in awe of him...and Chemo has already taught him how to keep a tight tug line and to focus on the trail.

His new six year old German Shepherd sister Willow (alpha female) to our surprise (and relief) accepted him into the family immediately, and Chemo's talents as a Lead Dog seemed to earn him great respect from her. It was amazing to watch this dynamic unfold between the two... they are great friends now! Chemo's silly side really won Willow over... she loves a good game of chase, and Chemo knows how to stay five steps in front of her with a big smile on his face and his tail curled up and held high as both Willow and Whiskey chase him around! Chemo is a love bug, and often times comes up and wants to be petted and massaged. When I was at the Kennel, Wendy shared with me Chemo's favorite places to be petted...I would have never thought to rub the inside of a dogs ear but he LOVES that! Those 5 days spent at the kennel bonding with Chemo was an important step in the adoption process!!

Elizabeth and I often times find ourselves saying things like "how does he know how to do that"... like being house trained, heeling behind us along a foot trail, or fetching a tennis ball and immediately coming back and dropping it at my feet while smiling up at me with that "do it again" smile! He has some funny habits, like making a bed if there is even a hint of staying somewhere for a spell. Once Whiskey was watching him do this and walked away literally covered with dirt that Chemo flung his way! Then there is the Schnitzel, our Siamese Cat... who in the first days of Chemo being here touched noses and then rubbed up against him. Chemo seemed to think that was pretty cool!

So... what's next for Chemo? Well, more PawTrekking of course! Right now we are doing local trails and our own network of paths, but soon I'll branch out to do some longer excursions. The Pawtrek Scooter also has a small trailer... so perhaps there is even a nice camping trip to be experienced with the Team! This winter we will get the dog sled down and trek around on our 43 acres every weekend as we follow SPK during the race season... once the ice is on the lakes Chemo will lead Team Adirondack out to my favorite ice fishing spots in search of Adirondack Lake Trout to catch through the ice.

We have lots of adventures on the horizon... with one goal in mind... having FUN and being HAPPY! That goal is for Elizabeth and I as well... if our dogs are happy we are happy! Thank you SPK for allowing us the opportunity to give Chemo a really cool "Life is Good Part II"!! We won't let you or Chemo down... he is everything we knew he would be, and then some!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Iditarod Sign Up 2018 Race

Today was the first day to sign up for the 2018 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Both the Red Team and the Black Team - Aliy and Allen have officially sent in applications. This would be Aliy's 18th race and Allen's 11th Iditarod. A total of 52 mushers signed up for the race today. Only 251 days until RACE START!!!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Midnight Sun Festival

Summer solstice is an amazing time in Interior Alaska. The midnight sun allows everyone to enjoy outdoor activities all day and all night long. Visitors to Alaska often do not know night from day. The Fairbanks Downtown Association holds the Midnight Sun Festival every year on the streets downtown. Allen and Aliy went to the Festival on Sunday and joined the Verizon gang at their tent.

Allen, Aliy and Scruggs brought a racing sled to Downtown Fairbanks on Sunday.

Many vendors and public service associations have booths. Probably the most popular was the enormous Fire Truck and extended rescue ladder. But, Yukon Quest Champion and Iditarod Sled Dog, Scruggs, was rather popular as well. Of the over 10,000 people enjoying the Festival, we figure Mr. Scruggs greeted a fair percentage of them!

There was quite a crowd at the Festival.

Scruggs was the most popular besides the enormous Firetruck. But he usually kisses back.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

SP Kennel All Star - A Love Letter to Nacho

Everybody loves Nacho!

We have been saying for years that he is the epitome of an All Star so we figured it was about time it was made official. The perfect day to celebrate Nacho's SP K Status is today, Father's Day.

Nacho has won the Yukon Quest twice, he's been Iditarod runner up three times and is a multiple Copper Basin Champ. He is father to some of our most talented current athletes, is as tough as they come and is also one of the happiest dogs there ever has been!
Congratulations Nacho on your induction into the SP Kennel All Stars Hall of Fame!

Nacho far left. Photo: Sebastian Schnuelle

Nacho was one of five pups born 11 years ago on June 12, 2006 to SP Kennel star Venus and Lance Mackey's Zorro. Phenomenal blood lines can look great on paper but sometimes don't emerge in practice but with Nacho and his siblings, their potential was realised, and then some!!

In fact, he is such a huge part of this kennel his likeness is immortalised in our kennel logo. Ten years ago Nacho had "that special look" that caught everyone's eye.

When racing, he brought determination and a huge work ethic. He was low maintenance, drama free, and got on with his job happily. He could run next to anyone and in any position on the team... the perfect dog.

In Aliy's 2012 Iditarod Trail Notes she described him as:
"Nacho was happy from start to finish. His silly antics made me smile. Nacho is an amazing sled dog. During this race, he was powerful, dedicated and confident. I watched Nacho race the Yukon Quest and the Iditarod, back to back, and never lose his smile."

In Aliy's 2014 Iditarod Trail Notes she described him as:
"Nacho once again was the ‘back up man’. He was always one step behind Quito and usually ran together with Chica. These three siblings are unstoppable. Nacho always keeps a little pep in his step, even after hundreds of miles. This energizes me, as well as the rest of the team. He is a wonderful dog."

Nacho looks like he's in lead, but he is actually in swing with Chica - Quito is in single lead coming into the Safety Checkpoint. Photo: Dr. Al Hallman

Nacho has 21 offspring right now at the kennel and many of them are currently, or will be, mega stars in their own right. They are talented and personable, just like their papa. When you look through our Dog Page you can easily be overwhelmed by the "Nacho Puppies".

Nacho third row on left. Photo: Donna Dewhurst

Nacho is a happy, happy dog! He is friendly to all he meets will give you a big fuzzy hug at any opportunity. He has a lot of fans from all around the world. Often times when Moira is asked why she keeps coming back to Alaska and whether it was because she has a boyfriend there, she says "Yes, his name is Nacho".

At 11 years old Nacho is now a bit slower than his famous sister Quito and much slower than the main Racers. His gait has never been smooth! Aliy says he looks like a raccoon loping across a picnic table. Although he was never a main leader during the bulk of his racing career, last season he led most of the time so that he could set the pace ~ usually 7 or 8 mph. Slow and steady will also get it done!

Nacho and Olivia are currently living together in 'The Plaza' an outdoor pen built by Aliy's dad, Doug, last summer. It is a cozy pen directly off the kennel's main house.

Olivia sunbathes whereas Nacho prefers the Lazy-Boy in their pen: 'The Plaza'.

Check out this "getting to know you" video from four years ago:

Video from April 2013

We have a saying here at SP Kennel: "He's Nacho dog, he's my dog". Of course when its said with an Arkansas accent it sounds much better: "He's naught yo dawg, he's ma dawg!"

Happy Father's Day Nacho - you are AMAZING.

Check out our other amazing SP Kennel All Stars here.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Summer Dog Exercise Day

Here is some fun we had a few days ago with the dogs on the trails around SP Kennel.

Monday, June 12, 2017

California Conference

Aliy and Allen were in Huntington Beach, southern California this past week for a Verizon Wireless Conference. The WOW ~ Women of Wireless ~ gathering was a two day event that brought together 350 of the best, brightest and most enthusiast women Verizon employees from California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii and Alaska. (Photo on left: Allen, Pepsi LaMar, Aliy and Irwin Siongco.)

The conference was headlined by Tami Erwin, the Executive Vice President for Verizon Operations and one incredible person. Tami had the stage just before Aliy. She centered her talk on the concept that women must often break the mold that we are cast into, yet simultaneously retain our personal strengths and beliefs. There is no position a woman can not reach - but expect to work hard, stumble and get right back up again!

Aliy sharing who exactly she is.

Aliy got on the stage next. First and foremost she explained WHY she was there? A Dog Musher? In California? At a business conference? Seriously? So, after a few "icebreaker" minutes, Aliy opened up and told her very authentic story of how she became one of the most talented, successful women in the state of Alaska. " hard, a few stumbles but get right back up again!" Sound familiar?

The topic of Aliy's talk was: Personal Branding ~ What's makes your Brand?
Aliy first needed 45 minutes to share WHO exactly she is before sharing her thoughts about maintaining her brand. The final 10 minutes of Aliy's presentation focused on what she considered most important in maintaining her image and brand.
So... if you don't know WHO ALIY IS ... here you go.
This is directly from Aliy's presentation:

- Authentic, Strong and Honorable: The concept of 'being true to yourself' should go hand and hand with being true to your community and fans. I am truthful about who I am. I can imagine nothing worse than living a lie. I know that not everyone will appreciate me or my dog mushing lifestyle. But - take me or leave me - I am incredibly proud of who I am.

- Positive and Inspirational: I try to be positive. Absolutely everyone has problems and hurdles in their life. There is no reason I need to add to the negative when a positive view can be so much more helpful. In my life (as with all of us), I have many challenges. I find that I can more easily overcome these obstacles when I smile. So, when in doubt... smile!

- Stay relevant and current. Yet always be ready to evolve: This is the most challenging concept for me. Our society expects instant gratification and constant communication. The fact that I try to retain my personal touch in my brand makes it nearly impossible for me to to correspond with everyone. The SPK Dog Log is a helpful tool but it even has its challenges.

- I am personally responsible to maintain my image and brand: This statement is by far the most important part of who I am. I determine my future by my actions today. I take this seriously. I am fortunate that I believe in who I am. I enjoy upholding my values, my brand and thus, my self.
But, I also need to remember that EVERYTHING MATTERS! Whenever I forget this concept, some small force will remind me. Just prior to leaving for California I received this letter (below) from a young fan who ironically, lives in California. Once again, EVERYTHING MATTERS.

This is the letter:

Monday, June 5, 2017

Drawings from Young Fans

Now that school is out or winding down in many parts of the world, we are receiving less correspondence from children. Over the last few months we have received many excellent drawings, cards and posters. Thank you for every single one! As a season finale, we decided to have an Art Show. So, here are five selected drawings from the talented students at Del Mar Pines Elementary School in San Diego California:

Allen's favorite.

Aliy's favorite.

Wendy's favorite.

Wes' favorite.

Moira's favourite.