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.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dog Yard Maintenance

It's a fall tradition! Every year, in late September, one day is set aside to gravel fill and grade the dog yard before the heavy frosts.

In spring and summer, when the ground is free of ice and snow, the dogs 'play' with their environment. Some collect rocks and branches to pile around their dog houses. Some play with their neighbors so enthusiastically that they wear deep tracks in the dirt. Some simply dig with abandon to depths of several feet. This canine activity, plus the flooding rains in July and August, has left the dog yard looking like a battlefield.

The grading job must be completed before the ground freezes for winter. We expect a high temperature of 40 degrees F today, but the nights will freeze to the high teens this week. So today is the day!

Aliy and Doug (Aliy's dad) will relocate half of the dogs into Big Red, our trusty F-350 dog truck, and various pens. The corresponding dog houses are then moved into the woods. Allen, meanwhile, is off renting a big ole tractor equipped with a bucket loader and a box grader. When he returns with the equipment, Allen's job is to break up the soil several feet deep and then smooth out the yard without destroying any pens, posts or small structures. Sometimes that is the biggest challenge!

And, of course, everyone wants to take a turn driving the tractor. We try to make the day of hard labor into something fun.

When the first half of the yard is complete, we repeat the above steps for the other half. The project normally takes a full day, but the results are always dramatic. We end up with a smooth, safe and debris free yard when the ground freezes solid (probably later this week).





Doug takes a turn during the dog yard grading project.




Training Tidbits:

SP Kennel is into the third full week of training. This week, the duration of each training run is just under one hour. Adults will train 4 times this week and yearlings will train 3 times.

The puddles that existed during the first week of training are now ice and the golds of early fall have turned into bare branches. The first snow could come at any time now.

Due to recent logging, we have lost access to some of our favorite old trails. As we get into more intense training we will need new trail segments for hill, speed and interval work. Next week we take the teams exploring, with the hope of finding different trails to enhance our training options. We'll let you know the results in the next post.



Minnie, 2 years old, is a Chacha/Oddball pup, and a rising star at SP Kennel.

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