The entire state of Alaska is currently in a "deep freeze". Two Rivers and SP Kennel is sitting directly in the center of this freezer unit.
Our concerns are the same as they always are:
1. Keep the dogs healthy.
Right now, the biggest concern is keeping the dogs "fat enough". They are sleeping in below -30 temperatures at night and training in below -20 temperatures during the day. This is a bigger issue than you might think.
Take for instance, Mac (our "big man on campus"), he needs many calories to keep his furnace burning through out the night and many more calories to have the energy to train 25 to 40 miles. Even Mac, can only consume so much in one day.
Logically we must increase their food intake. All dogs get two full meals every day - a thick warm breakfast at 8 AM and a healthy dinner approximately 10 - 12 hours later. These meals are predominantly high fat and high protein dry Eagle Pack MVP kibble with additional fat supplements. In between meals, thin dogs need more calories. For snacks we feed either more kibble or an "ice cream scoop" of pure poultry fat. (It looks like orange sherbet ... but I wouldn't try it.)
We hope they eat everything that we present, but some dogs don't dive into the massive amount of food rapidly. They pick at their meal slowly. In these temperatures, it does not take long for the food to freeze to the sides of the dish and become inedible.
2. Keep the dogs fitness on schedule.
This priority takes a "back seat". The dogs need to be at an optimum level of fitness for all of the racing season, but a skinny athlete is no good. So, fitness and training is secondary.
The dogs also need adequate protection when they are training in these extreme temperatures. When a team leaves SP Kennel and the temperature is -20, there are several "cold spots" on the training route no matter what direction you take. This means that the team will be heading into temperatures possibly as low at -30. Keep in mind, the dogs could be traveling up to 10 mph, so after calculating the additional wind chill, the team could be trotting into a sub -50 temperature. (That's darn cold in any language!)
The dogs wear jackets, male protection ruffs and some females wear additional chest protectors. Dog booties are also coming out of storage. Dressing a dog team can be a full day affair!
Yes ... we live in the heart of Dog Mushing country, but by golly it sure gets cold up here!