SP Kennel is a premier sled dog racing kennel in Two Rivers, Alaska, dedicated to the individual dog through excellent health, nutrition, training and specialized care.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Quito Pups are 4 Weeks Old

The pups are named: 'Gold', 'Prata' and 'Bronze'. While gold and bronze seem like obvious names for pups born during the 2016 Olympics games, prata might not. Some of you might think 'Silver' would be the obvious third choose. However, we were hesitant to name a puppy with the same name as quite a few other sled dogs in Alaska - including one very notable dog. Since 'Prata' means silver in Portuguese and many SP Kennel dog names already have an international flair… why not?

L-R: Gold, Prata and Bronze in a harness pile; Gold wanders around the house.

The pups have just turned 4 weeks old. They are happy and healthy. Gold is by far the largest and most daring. Prata is a cuddle bug and likes to stick next to her Mama. Bronze has an adventurous gene and is hard to keep up with now.

They are spending quality time in the SP Kennel house or in the Dog Room - always accompanied by Mama. They have explored the outdoors in the last few days and even had a tour of the driveway. However, the weather has been very damp these past few weeks so they will remain living indoors until they are older or more sunshine appears.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Happy Non-Birthday Chemo!

Most of the puppies born at SP Kennel arrive during the summer which is 'down time' for the kennel. This means when it is their birthday we have the opportunity to celebrate it.

But occasionally puppies have been born during the early spring or late fall during the 'busy season' so we haven't had the chance to celebrate. Therefore, in a new short series we will wish Happy Non-Birthday to a few of these dogs. We'll start with handsome boy Chemo!

Chemo's actual birthday is April 20th so today, August 20th Chemo turns 6 1/3 years old.

Chemo and his sister I.V. were born at the kennel. Chemo and I.V.'s names may seem very unique and there is a great story behind them. Click here to read some background.

Chemo has gone on to be a very important team member. He ended last season with a third place in the Iditarod and second in the Yukon Quest 300. He has raced six 1000 mile races and a host of other middle distances.

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 this year's Iditarod: "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."

Chemo takes centre stage as the team pulls into Central during the 2016 YQ300 (picture by Julien Schroder)

He's is happy to lead a team, and just as happy to run as an important team dog. He's a talented, good looking and kind hearted boy. The perfect guy.

Meet him as a three year old in this video:

PS: Chemo's sister I.V. unfortunately suffered a racing-dog career ending injury while she was playing in the yard a couple of years ago. Although she is not in any pain and it doesn't stop her being a fantastic pet dog, she could no longer pull a sled so she retired early at age 4. Read more here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Howl at the Moon

This video was taken at 10PM on August 15th, 2016 off the SP Kennel balcony.

Friday, August 12, 2016

A Few Days of Summer Left

The rain has been constant in July and August in Interior Alaska. But, there have been one or two nice sunny afternoons. Our Alaskan Huskys certainly are not accustomed to the heat that these rare rays of sunshine bring - so they hide as much as they can. No "basking" for these doggies!

Biscuit nibbles on his chew toy; Schmoe hides from the sun.

Dutch rests as far out of the sunshine as possible; Perky seems rather relaxed!

SP Kennel dogs have been shedding their fur for much of the summer. Some dogs "blow" their coats in one quick weekend while other seem to take a little longer to lose their fur. We brush the dogs whenever they need it and sometimes we can even recruit some help.
Earlier in the summer, the Voiles Family visited the kennel. The spent much of the afternoon grooming Scruggs and Chena. Thank you very much girls!

Chena and Scruggs get some extra grooming TLC.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Quito Pups are 2 Weeks Old

The puppies are "draining" after a nursing power session.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

2017 Yukon Quest

Saturday was the first day of sign-ups for the 2017 Yukon Quest and YQ300. Allen was in Arkansas visiting with his Mom and family so called in to the Yukon Quest office in Fairbanks to drop in the paperwork before he left (right, with Neil from YQ).

It's great to see the number of teams signed up so far: 17 for the 1000 miler and the YQ300 has filled up already with 10 on the wait list on the first day.

Allen and the Black Team will again race in the 1000 mile race; this year starting in Whitehorse on Saturday, February 4th 2017, and finishing on home turf in Fairbanks.

Allen and the Black team, led by Waylon and Scout, during the 2016 Yukon Quest - photo Julien Schroder

Aliy is 7th on the wait list to run the YQ300. If she gets to race it she will do so with some youngsters in the Red Team. They also start in Whitehorse a few hours after the 1000-milers leave, and finish in Pelly Crossing.

Aliy and the Red Team, led by Lester and Boondocks, pulling into Central Corner Checkpoint during 2016 YQ300 - photo Julien Schroder

We have also signed-up a second team for the YQ300! Chris, who is 8th on the waitlist, may compete with a young team so watch this space for more details.

The Yukon Quest is a significant race in the SP Kennel calendar and is important in our overall goals for our dogs and the kennel. We also LOVE the race and the people so we're looking forward to getting to the start line!

Check out the Yukon Quest website and their fun and active Facebook Page for more details.

Are you ready?

Check out more of Julien's fantastic photos on his website. He was one of the official photographers on the 2016 Quest and captured some amazing images in some trying conditions.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

TBT: Quito Earns MVD!

Right now, Quito is busy with Mommy duties but let's take a trip back to March 2012 to another significant moment in her life. Aliy and the Red Team finished 2nd in the Iditarod and Quito earned the title of Most Valuable Dog for the season! At the finishers' banquet Aliy had promised Quito roses so once they got back to the kennel they had a small ceremony to present her with the honour.

Click here to see the original post

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Chill-Out Tuesday: White Mountains Camping Trip

While many of us in the US are enduring sweltering conditions we thought it time to look back to December 2012 to a camping trip in the White Mountains.

Aliy captured some great footage on the way out of the White Mountains Recreational Reserve. It was a gorgeous morning and you can see how the light changes as the sun rises - you can also hear Ranger chatting all the way along the trail!

What better way to enjoy such a beautiful corner of the world than on the back of a dog sled!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

One Week Old Quito Puppies

Here they are at almost one week old.
The three pups are extremely healthy and so is Mama Quito.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Origin Story: Who Was Skunk of Skunk's Place?

For those who have never read the story of Skunk or those that want to enjoy it again, here's "A Holiday Tale" retold

SP Kennel’s first sled dog was Skunk. He was given to Aliy many years ago by a trapper who lived on the western coast of Alaska. Skunk was a mature dog with years of trap line experience. All he had known was a somewhat harsh world of eating carcasses from the trap line and fish oil then curling up in the snow.

In those days, Aliy was living in a small village north of the Arctic Circle. Skunk was delivered to her by bush plane the week before Thanksgiving. Since she had not yet built a dog sled, the two would walk the trails around the village getting to know each other and the area.

Skunk would habitually run ahead a ways then come back and check in with Aliy. He did this repeatedly – almost as a game. But then one day something (a rabbit, a moose, a caribou, an eagle, who knows?) grabbed his attention and he reverted back to his previous life. He scampered off into the wild. Aliy called and called. He didn’t come back.

She walked back to the village and put dog food on her porch to entice him home. That night dogs barked throughout the village. Skunk was around but he never came home. A day went by and the elusive dog was still missing. Where could he have gone? The closest town was 45 miles by dog trail!

The next night, only two nights before Thanksgiving, the dogs in the village barked constantly. This usually meant that a bear or wolves were prowling the town. This year, it meant a sled dog! Skunk traveled from cabin to cabin…...a surprise holiday visitor.

The next morning, villagers knew that he had stopped at their homes when they couldn’t find their Thanksgiving turkeys. Many people in the Arctic use Mother Nature as an outdoor freezer. They keep their frozen foods on their front porches or in their arctic entries. Apparently, Skunk knew this too.

An "all-points bulletin" was put out on Skunk that day. He had ruined many a Turkey Day dinner. He was even spotted on a village road trotting off with a spiral ham in his mouth. The villagers were very upset. They chased him with a snowmobile, but no one could catch him. In that town, on the day before Thanksgiving, a loose dog was a dead dog.

Aliy borrowed some lynx traps from a trapper in town. She set them up around town and baited them with the half eaten turkey carcasses. That night and early into the morning, she made her hourly rounds to check the traps.

Then, at 3 AM on Thanksgiving Day she walked to the trap behind her house. In the glow of her headlamp Aliy saw two shinning eyes – SKUNK! She walked up to him and saw that his hind foot was in the trap. She looked sternly at him and said, "The town people want you dead, dog. You best not growl at me." Amazingly, he looked up at Aliy and wagged his tail!

Aliy removed Skunk’s foot from the trap, lead him home that night and tied him up outside her place. The next morning neighbors showed up to report on Skunk’s antics. Even a family who lived several miles south of town came by to tell Aliy that he must have come to their cabin his first night out. All of the bait on their trap line was gone and so was the meat from their front porch.

For many years, Skunk held the record as Aliy’s most expensive dog, simply because of all the turkeys she had to pay for that Thanksgiving.

Skunk leads Aliy's first dog team.

In the years to come, Skunk was an important part of Aliy's small sled dog team but an even better companion dog. He spent 8 years after that fateful Thanksgiving as Aliy’s dear friend and constant companion. He even traveled with Aliy to the ‘Lower 48’ on an extensive cross-country trip. He was a perfect driving buddy, riding ‘shotgun’ for 8000 miles in a little red Chevy pick-up.

"SP Kennel" is named for that special dog. It will always be "Skunk's Place".