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, January 7, 2014

The Bench

Every team has a bench.

Not every player gets to play all of the time. Not every dog gets to race every race. We will fill 36 slots with racing dogs this coming weekend at the Copper Basin 300 Sled Dog Race. Now, many of our Dog Fans might be saying "With 39 Racing Dogs and 10 Yearlings how can you possibly decide who gets to race?" Sometimes it is an easy decision and other times it's not.

All of the dogs have their own training calendar. We record all of their data into a spreadsheet and then spend hours analyzing how each dog is performing. We compare different dogs as well as year to year averages. Right now there are dogs that stand out with 'perfect records'. These are dogs that haven't missed a training day all season: Quito, Nacho, Willie, Mac, Lester and Felix. But, that doesn't tell the whole story. We need to know why a dog missed a training day. Perhaps he overheats somewhat on warmer days; Honda; or started to get a little too thin; Beemer; or maybe just needs a little more long distance sled dog education; Shiner. We have to analyze every dog's attitude, gait and overall appearance after each training run in order to get the whole picture. If a dog needs an additional day off or perhaps a shorter "fun" run we will edit their training calendar.

So, picking three teams for the Copper Basin 300 is challenging. And sadly there will be a few dogs left on the SP K bench. But, every dog at SP Kennel is still in the running for the Yukon Quest team, the Yukon Quest 300, as well as the two Iditarod teams.


Anonymous said...

It sounds like this team has a very responsible coaching staff.

Margaret said...


That sounds like fun! And Lester looks like an official referee - only missing his penalty whistle!!!

Re: the wonderful explanation for "benching" dogs - you look at the whole dog, and happy dogs are usually healthy dogs, and healthy dogs...are good eaters!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on getting into the field for the Yukon Quest 300!!!


Badas Musher said...

I can totally relate to this... Especially after this season of training I have had so far! People often ask why we need/have so many, and I explain to them about training pools and how some dogs perform differently or better than others (then there is the other reason they miss out) like unplanned puppies!!! LOL Happy Trails!

Anonymous said...

Does this mean L Zi is the self appointed fun police? Hopefully with your perfect attendance buddy, you are ready to rock n roll this year. Mush on!


Lourdes, VT said...

You have such great love for those dogs!!! They are very lucky pups :)

Nessmuk said...

Ahh...the Bench...yup, I remember it well, back in the day! It's got to be so hard figuring out what Team members should be in any given race....and on what Team! You are fortunate the SPK bench is deep....sounds like you got some heavy decisions to make! No matter what, we love all the furry Team Members....the "ringers" as well as the ones who will be keeping the bench warm! Thanks for the explanation...you certainly are a Dog First Kennel!!

marilyn cozzens said...

What an excellent explanation on SPKennel racers and what goes into the selection process. Lester's is quite the enforced in the play pen. Good luck in CB 300. Contests in getting in Yukon Quest 300.