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.

Friday, January 31, 2014

YQ and YQ300 Team Rosters

Here it is! I'm sure you've all be waiting to hear who is heading down the trail tomorrow with Allen and Aliy…

The Black team will be lead out of the start chute by QUITO and SCRUGGS followed by OLIVIA and BOONDOCKS, SCOUT and CHICA, NACHO and CHEMO, SCHMOE and CLYDE, MAC and PUPPET with BISCUIT and BEEMER in wheel. Check out the Race Roster Page for more details about the team members.


Quito and Scruggs

The RED team was difficult to finalise! Aliy wishes she could take a team of 18 or 20 down the trail as there are that many dogs that are willing and able to go. There are some great dogs that will unfortunately have to warm the bench at home. In the end she has decided on HONDA and PUD to lead the team from 2nd Avenue with WILLIE and RAMBLER, VIPER and WAYLON, SISSY and SCOOTER, MISMO and NELSON, FELIX and IZZY. You will notice a decided young-Latino bent to the back end of the team! Check out the Red Team Race Roster Page for more info.


Honda and Pud

We have two other SP Kennel dogs in action in the Yukon Quest 300 - Ryne Olson from Ryno Kennel is taking a team of her own youngsters and she is borrowing some experience from SP. DINGLE and LESTER will travel with her team so you can follow their progress also!


Dingle and Lester

YQ300 Vet Checks and Bib Draw

Friday morning saw Aliy and her Red team complete the veterinarian checks at the Alpine Lodge. All her team passed the exams and are fit and ready to run! She took 14 with her for checks but she has to narrow her team down to just 12 so she will do that later this evening.


L-R: Willie gets a lift back in to the truck; Nelson gets seen by veterinarian, Dr Alan Hallman

Later in the afternoon Aliy and Wes attended the YQ300 musher/handler meeting to hear about the latest trail conditions and start line arrangements. They also drew their start positions: Aliy drew bib number 56 which means she will leave the start chute at 3.15pm on Saturday. (Note: YQ300 bibs start at 50 so she is starting sixth)


L-R: Aliy draws bib number 56; Ryne Olson, Aliy, Amanda Gecas and Chase Tingle show their bib numbers for the YQ300

One more sleep for everyone then it is all on! We can't wait, can you?

YQ Start Draw and Banquet

Allen and the Black team will be heading out from Fairbanks in with bib number 8!

Last night at the start draw and banquet at the Westmark Hotel, Allen drew number 8 out of 18 starting mushers. This means the team will start at 11.21am on Saturday morning.

As you may have seen on the Yukon Quest website, this year the teams are taking a "tag sled" (a second sled attached to the back of the main sled) for the first mile or two. Sharon Johnston won the auction to ride in Allen's sled - thank you Sharon!

Aliy will draw her bib number at this afternoon's YQ300 mushers meeting so we will let you know later today when she will be leaving the start chute. Also later today we will post the team rosters so keep an eye out for that!


L-R: Sharon Johnston and Allen at the banquet; dog tags for the Black Team

Thursday, January 30, 2014

YQ Meet the Mushers

Wednesday evening a big crowd turned up at the Alpine Lodge in Fairbanks to "meet the mushers".

It was a chance for public, friends, fans and supporters to chat to and get a signature from all the Yukon Quest 1000 mushers. By the end of the evening the mushers had signed their names hundreds of times on posters, race guides, postcards and T-shirts and smiled for many pictures.

This is one of a few events and meetings the mushers and teams attend before the start of the race on Saturday. As you will see from the schedule posted earlier today, Thursday sees the teams in meetings most of the day and the start draw and banquet is Thursday evening. This is where the mushers will draw their starting positions and we will learn what time Allen will leave the start chute.

Thanks to the Alpine Lodge in Fairbanks for hosting the "meet the mushers"!


L-R: Allen with some young fans; the "meet the mushers" board

Yukon Quest Schedule


SP Kennel Crew is at the peak of the Yukon Quest packed schedule. The whole Crew ~ friends and family is coming together for this race!

WEDNESDAY

  • 4 PM - 6 PM …….YQ 1000 Mushers Meeting
  • 7 PM - 10 PM …… YQ "Meet the Mushers" Event

THURSDAY

  • 10 AM ………….YQ 1000 Handlers Meeting 
  • 11:30 AM ………YQ 1000 "Rider" Luncheon
  • 1 PM - 4 PM …….YQ 1000 Mushers Meeting
  • 5 PM - 10 PM …… YQ Banquet / Starting Draw

FRIDAY

  • 10 AM ………….YQ 300 Vet Check
  • 3 PM - 6 PM …….YQ 300 Mushers / Handler Meeting

SATURDAY

  • 11 AM ………….YQ 1000 START
  • 3 PM - 6 PM …….YQ 300 START

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Winter Sun

We don't get a lot of sun here in Two Rivers during January but we sure make the most of it!




Aliy and her team leave the yard

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Dog Fan Club Draw #5 - Yukon Quest

Congratulations to BELLA SHAMES who has won our first Yukon Quest themed Dog Fan Club Draw. Bella is a fan of SCOOTER.

Because we have all been occupied with drop bags for both the Yukon Quest and the Iditarod and have been folding thousands of booties, Bella wins a set of booties! She also wins a Yukon Quest Race Guide signed by both Allen and Aliy along with a patch and some other goodies.

The next draw is due on Sunday, February 9th which is right in the middle of the race. We'll still make the draw that day but the post may be a little later. The names of everyone who hasn't already won and all new members will be in the draw for another Yukon Quest related prize.

Click the button below for instructions on how to join:


Click this button below to take you directly to the Dog Fan Page.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

YQ Vet Checks

On Tuesday, veterinarian and long time SP Kennel sponsor, Dr. Tamara Rose carried out thorough vet checks on 19 "possibles" for Allen's Yukon Quest Black team.

Vet checks are a vital part of the Yukon Quest to ensure every dog starting the race is in good health. Their importance can't be underestimated.

Tamara checked a number of things including weight, body condition, heart rate and lungs, teeth and temperature and she checked for any sore muscles and other "abnormalities" (see vet check sheet - right). We're very happy to say that all 19 dogs passed the vet check with flying colors so now Allen just needs to narrow down the squad to 14!

Aliy will take her Red Team squad to the YQ veterinary team for their checks on the Friday before the race.


L-R: Puppet has her teeth checked; Nacho has his feet checked


L-R: TRose feels Schmoe's wrist; Say "cheese" Mac

Monday, January 20, 2014

I was meant to be a dog musher...

Here is a mid-season musher's rambling… by Aliy

This SP Kennel Dog Log is often filled with videos and photos of our dogs, our mushers and their combined adventures. The training, the racing as well as all of the other antics at SP Kennel. As it appears through the eyes of this website, my entire life is consumed in one way or another with dogs. That is the truth. When I first wake up in the morning, I usually roll over and acknowledge the dog hogging my bed. The very last thing I do in the evening is let dogs out and pass out biscuits. Honestly, there are very few moments in between when I am not in some form or fashion thinking about dogs.

Every once in a while, I wonder… just how did I get here?

I wasn't born into a dog mushing family. Mushing was not my family's business. I wasn't even raised in Alaska. I never even saw a dog sled until I was an adult. But, I am a girl who has always had an absolute love and respect for dogs.

Some of my best childhood memories involve a huge furry husky/shepherd mix named Cleo. She was my pal and my sister and I loved her. I also somewhat remember a huge Rhodesian Ridgeback hound but he left the family kinda quick after eating a birthday cake. My family always had dogs.

"My" first dog was named Puppy Love. I was probably 8 or 9 years old when that stray dog showed up in my life. My parents didn't feel threatened by the little dog because we were headed on a week long vacation. There was no way a stray would stick around that long no matter how cute their daughter was. But, on the sly, I had convinced a neighbor to fed that little terrier at our house while we were gone. When she was sitting on our door step a week later, she was allowed to stay. I taught Puppy Love to do tricks and we would entertain anyone who paused near our house. She was a fun dog.

"My" second dog was Carmel. I was probably 10 years old when he just happened to show up at the door step. He wasn't a big fellah and he didn't have the knack for learning tricks. But he loved to run. That's when I started mushing. I didn't know it was mushing, but I see now that it was. I would put a leash on Carmel, sit on my skateboard or balance on my roller skates and he would GO! We raced up and down the concrete streets and I earned more than my fair share of few skinned knees and elbows. Even my best friends had similar mushing dogs. Our dogs pulled us all over the neighborhood. That was some of the best fun a kid could have.

I realize that many years and much distance lay between my first dog mushing miles and the thousands and thousands of dog mushing miles I do today. The dogs are different and the land is different, but the musher is the same. At heart, I am still that little girl who believes that there is nothing better than the awesome camaraderie and the amazing adventures I can have with a dog.

I was meant to be a dog musher.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

CB300 - Red and Black Team Wrap-up

The goal for the Red & Black Team during Copper Basin was to give the dogs a safe, positive race experience. I had no expectations for a specific finishing position, as my plan was to take more rest than just the mandatory 18 hours. This seemed important in order to make Copper Basin a good experience for the two yearlings, Lydia and Sandy, for whom it would be their first mid-distance race.


Photo credit Josh Turnbow

After resting conservatively for the majority of the race, this team blew me away by rallying into a 15th place finish. Though each run presented a fun, unique challenge (open water, tight trails, long, sleep-deprived hours), the run over the hills between Meiers Lake and Sourdough was by far my favorite. We had that magic that you get when every dog in the team is feeling 100%. It became clear to me at that point that not only was our team capable of taking it up a notch, but that the dogs (especially the little pint-sized spitfire, Lydia) wanted to race. I felt like I was driving a freight train, as we caught team after team and charged past them. Each passed team fed their excitement.

Every dog on the team brought their unique strengths and quirks to the table:

RANGER (aka “Ranger Danger”) is my main man. Being a sensitive guy, he is my happiness barometer for the team, and his leadership is inspirational to the rest of the dogs (and to me)! He successfully navigated ice bridges over open water, numerous passes with crazy teams, and kept his swift, bark-filled pace in lead for the entire 300 miles. What a dog.

Being one of the R&B dogs with the most race experience, DINGLE was my wisdom on the team during this race. He is as reliable as they come, a truly honest dog, and I was happy to have him along to help show the youngsters how to race (and perhaps more importantly, how to rest). “Ding Ding” ran about half the race in lead with Ranger, and then I moved him back to help keep the peace in the middle of the team.

VIPER is a solid race dog who gave some extra “oomph” to the front end of the team. His ability to run well in lead and in swing (and certainly anywhere else in the team) makes him a super versatile dog. Between his “vocal tendencies” and Ranger’s, the other teams certainly didn’t have to guess when the R&B team was coming!

I’ve said it before, but HONDA’s most distinguishing characteristic is his unflinching work ethic. He is trying to single-handedly pull that sled up every hill by himself. He gives 110% every single mile, and I have literally never seen his tug line go slack. He ran in lead with Ranger from Lake Louise to the finish.

LESTER has such a calm, steady presence. He may be the shy guy when it comes to strangers, but he is all business on the trail. Never aggressive with other teams and always positive, Lester made a fantastic running partner and mentor for Lydia.


Honda and Lester

LYDIA’s body may be pint-sized, but her heart is huge! It’s clear to me that this little gal is going to be one of the next rockstars of the kennel. She drives incredibly hard and isn’t intimidated by anything. She is confident, but not cocky.

PUD was the definition of team player during Copper Basin. He worked hard, rested hard, and did everything I asked him to with a good attitude. He runs well next to anyone, and is one of those dogs who you never have to worry about. What a stud!

As a two-year-old, OUTLAW brought his crazy energy and enthusiasm to the team. As a last-minute addition to the team, he really put his nose to the ground and did a great job. I think a small neighborhood could be powered with his energy if you could bottle it. All you have to do is point him in the right direction and let him rip!

BORIS really stepped up his game for this race. He’s had a strong training season this winter, and it shows. He’s one of the dogs at the kennel who’s more sensitive to heat, but he avoided any problems at Copper Basin by eating well (which kept him hydrated and less likely to cramp up). Boris finished the race just as strong as he started it. He’s one of the dogs that I’m especially proud of this year.


Boris and Mismo

With an oversized body that he hasn’t quite grown into yet, MISMO is an unlikely hero, but a hero he is! This young guy was definitely the cheerleader for the back half of the team. Even late in the race, when it’s normal for dogs to be a little less crazy, he was the one screaming to go. Mismo also does double duty as a guard dog for the team, always alerting us to anything amiss, like a moose lurking in the woods (or another team getting fed).

BONITA proved to be an excellent choice as a buddy for Sandy on this race. She has such a beautiful, easy lope and is a steady worker. She knows the drill at checkpoints, and is always one of the first to curl up and rest when we stop. This was a great influence on Sandy, who was initially reluctant to lay down and miss any of the action (Sandy would actually fall asleep sitting up, her forehead slowly drooping down to touch the snow). The two ran the entire 300 miles together.

I am so, so proud of SANDY! From a dog’s perspective, I can see how a yearling’s first mid-distance race could be intimidating. New challenges on the trail, camping without their comfy houses, and no knowledge of just how long we are actually going to keep running... But, in good faith, Sandy worked absolutely as hard as any of the veteran race dogs. She ate like a champ, learned to rest when we stopped, nose-bopped her buddy, Bonita, every four hours or so (the dog version of a high-five?), and seemed to put her trust in the team. I couldn’t have asked more of any yearling! She certainly has a promising race career ahead of her.

As a Copper Basin rookie myself, I’m thrilled with how the team did and am honored that these twelve dogs let me call the shots for 300 miles. They made the whole experience as smooth and enjoyable as it can be. I also want to acknowledge the Copper Basin volunteers and trail crew, who did such an outstanding job with marking the trail and making it clear where to go. Thanks to them, I was able to enjoy the challenges of running dogs through the Alaskan wilderness that are inherent to the endeavor, instead of worrying about trail markers. They made this race a truly authentic experience for our team.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Yukon Quest Food Drops

It is two weeks out from the race start and the Yukon Quest Food Drops were turned in today. Allen, Ray and Aliy delivered a bulging truck load of supplies to Summit Logistics in Fairbanks.

Musher after musher pulled into the busy parking lot and volunteers unloaded thousands of pounds of dog food, dog gear, musher supplies and race gear. These "A. MOORE" labeled and sorted bags will travel out to the Yukon Quest checkpoints ~ Two Rivers, Mile 101, Central, Circle, Eagle, Dawson, Pelly, Carmacks, Braeburn ~ in the coming weeks. Aliy turned in her supplies and paperwork for the Yukon Quest 300.

Allen went over his mandatory Food Drop paperwork and confirmed times and dates for his required race meetings and functions with the Yukon Quest Operations Manager.

Allen and Aliy were able to talk to the Race Marshal, Doug Grilliot as well as friend and Race Judge, Bob McAlpine. They said that the trail is currently taking shape and the checkpoints are being stocked. The race half-way checkpoint, Dawson City, will again be at the campground across from town despite a slow freeze-up for the Yukon River.


L-R: Aliy dropped off her Yukon Quest 300 bags; Ray's pick up truck is super-loaded with supplies.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Dog Fan Club Draw #4 - Copper Basin 300

Sorry for the delay folks. Last Sunday's winner for the dog fan club is KEREE LEAMONS! Keree is a fan of CHEMO who just ran the CB300 in Aliy's team and lead for some of the final section of the race.

Keree wins a CB300 poster signed by all three SP Kennel mushers and a CB300 patch along with some other goodies. Congratulations!

Let's get to know Chemo a little better…

CB300 - The R&B Team Journey

This is Meghan and her Red and Black team's journey through the Copper Basin 300.



If you are wondering about the Meiers Lake entrance and why they looped around instead of just turning left and crossing the road: the trail team put the loop in for safety reasons. That extra time it took to loop gave the musher, the marshals and motorists time to see each other and make the crossing safe.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

CB300 - The Red Team's Journey

Here's some of Aliy and her Red team's journey through the Copper Basin 300.

CB300 - Meet the Handlers

RED TEAM

SP Kennel welcomed Christine Richardson and Lidia Dale-Mesaros to the team for the 2014 Copper Basin 300. Both women are from New Hampshire where Aliy and Allen met them during their Sled Dog Symposium in the fall.


The human part of the Red Team at the finish line in Glennallen

Christine owns Seal Cove Journeys and races regularly in the East Coast area; she will be racing the upcoming CanAm250. She handled for Mike Ellis and Brent Sass during the 2012 Yukon Quest.

Lidia owns Valley Snow Dogz with her husband Richard and is an experienced musher herself. They have a kennel of old school, traditional sled dogs and enjoy many miles of adventure from early Fall to early Spring as well as a handful of races throughout New England.


L-R: Lidia and Christine at Meiers Lake checkpoint; Christine and Lidia attach Aliy's "bib" to the sled before the race start

RED AND BLACK TEAM

Wes Brightman and Josh Turnbow handled for Meghan and her team.


The human part of the Red and Black Team at the finishers banquet in Glennallen

Those of you who have followed the SPKDogLog for a few years will remember Wes from the 2011-2012 season when he and his wife Wendy were handlers for SP Kennel. Wes and Wendy now own property just up the road in Two Rivers and are still involved with the kennel. They live with Tony and Malibu who are retired from SP Kennel.

Josh is a wildland firefighter in the summer and skier during the winter. Before this weekend he had not been involved with sled dog racing but he successfully navigated an extremely steep learning curve. We might have converted him to this crazy world!


L-R: Josh catches a few moments of rare rest at Lake Louise (photo credit Lidia); Wes checks the tracker at Chistochina

BLACK TEAM

Ray Crowe and I handled for Allen and the Black team.

Ray is married to Aliy's sister Kaz and they live just around the corner in Two Rivers. Ray's been Allen right hand man in races for many years and knows the races inside-out. Ray and Allen have an unspoken understanding of what needs to happen at each checkpoint and it shows.

Me? Well, you all know me.


L-R: Ray changes Allen's sled runners prior to the race; Moira holds the leaders at Meiers Lake (photo credit Lidia)

CB300 - Red Team Wrap-up

Aliy and her team finished the Copper Basin 300 in 8th position. Every dog made a huge contribution!


Aliy and team at Meiers Lake (photo credit Lidia)

BEEMER is special dog to SP Kennel. He is super talented and is sensitive so can sometimes need extra attention. Towards the end of the race he was not working at 100 percent so Aliy brought him back to the wheel position to keep eye on him.

RAMBLER started the race in lead but still has his major eating issue and it caught up with him again in this race. He is such a super talented sled dog, he gives it all he's got but when his tank is empty he runs out of steam. We are working on overcoming this problem so he can contribute even more to the team.

SCRUGGS is probably the dog who came through for Aliy in the long run. Aliy always knew he was a good dog but she is looking at him in a different light now and for this race he was her "go to" leader. He was always steady and reliable and she didn't have to worry about him one bit.

CHEMO - when you need to count on someone you can count on him! He was in lead for sections of the last push and he has the checkpoint routine down, it is obvious he is an experienced dog despite being so young.

CLYDE is just two years old but during this race he acted like a five year old. His biggest plus is he will eat anything and that keeps him positive and energised.


Chemo and Clyde

MAC was Aliy's strongest dog, he worked at 100 percent all the time. He's good at everything: he takes resting very seriously and he is a competitive racer. Towards the end of the race he'd be driving up hills and working hard. On the sections of the trail that paralleled, if a vehicle passed him he would scream and increase the pace as if to race them.

SISSY is a big time SP race dog now. She is 100 percent race dog and we're all excited about that. She ate, she slept and worked hard to the end. She was running with Mac and they worked well together when they were both in the groove.


Mac and Sissy

TUG and FANG were running together. Both couldn't finish the race due to dehydration and cramps. Aliy and handlers talked to the vets a lot to find out causes of this and we are lucky it was caught early and are now both back to normal. We couldn't figure why it was happening but we knew what what it was and it as not uncommon on this race - seems like it was a "perfect storm" of factors all coming together at once. Prior to that both had been working so hard.

IZZY gave it her all but ended up cramping in her hamstring. This happened less than a mile out of Tolsona and Izzy is not a dog to give up so Aliy carried her for the whole loop, out and back so she watched a lot of teams go by before settling for a snooze inside the sled. She saw her dad Biscuit go by with Allen. She did super well in her first real test and Aliy was happy with her. It lightened the mood of a really competitive race to have her running with her Uncle Tatfish.

WAYLON is always a cheerleader. He could have been on any of the SP teams, Aliy was glad he was on hers. He lead the team across the finish line to give the team more speed. He and Scruggs have complimentary lead skills, he has more speed and Scruggs has more focus.

TATFISH was Tatfish. He can and will do every race we ask of him. He's dependable and, along with his brother Biscuit is the oldest racing dog at the kennel. He always adds a touch of whimsy to the team.

Overall Aliy thought the checkpoints were super - each had it's own flair. Red Eagle Lodge at Chistochina had the cinnamon buns, Meiers Lake Roadhouse had an open door policy and welcomed wet, soggy mushers. The wood stove at Sourdough was much appreciated as Aliy was able to dry out her boots after more overflow on that leg. Lake Louise Lodge made her feel very welcome - they are a "high end" establishment yet they let grimy, wet mushers sleep on the floor and Tolsona Lake Resort made her the best burger she's had in a long time.

The Red team's motto for this race was "Adapt and Overcome"! Several factors contributed to this not being as smooth a race as it could have been (the harness system and the number of dogs that didn't finish the race) but Aliy was so proud that her team finished as well as it did. There were far more positives to come out of this race than negatives.
_________

Towards the end of the race those of you who were following her tracker may have been extremely confused at why it was saying she was in to Glennallen when, in fact, she was still on the trail. The spot trackers were held in place on the sled inside a dog bootie. At Tolsona, as she was packing her sled, the tracker fell off and was gathered up with all the other used booties and put inside the truck which was then driven to the finish line. It made for some anxious moments when people would come rushing in to the Old Paths Church where the handler team was waiting to say Aliy was here!

For those that are waiting to hear the story about the harnesses - here's a video of Aliy at the finishers banquet explaining what happened (sorry about the poor sound quality).



On the morning of the race she discovered, to everyone's horror, that we had left her harnesses and gang line in the garage, back at Two Rivers. After a few minutes of us all trying to problem solve it in our heads, Aliy walked around the carpark and asked and was offered a gang line and about eight harnesses from Kristin Knight Pace and one or two each from Christine Roalofs, Amanda Gecas, Ray Reddington Jnr and Brent Sass, hence the wonderful mix and match nature of the set up. One musher told her later that he spent ages examining her line and harness set-up trying to figure out what advantage she was getting out of running some half harnesses, some cross-backed and staggered gang line! He thought she had discovered some new and innovative way of hooking up the team.