I am very happy with the overall performance of the team this year. Being a younger team I knew they might have a little bit of difficulty at the end of the race because it was new to so many of them. It was a little difficult, but they did very, very well. They are only going to get better and third place is great!
Scout is the only dog that has run all six of my Yukon Quests with me. He is the MVD of this year’s Quest because whenever I needed him he was always there. I could always put him in lead if I needed to and he always had plenty of energy and took charge.
Willie has also been on a number of my Quests and he’s also a proven veteran that never have any problems with. Sometimes you don’t even know he's on the team because hes just always pulling and always there. He ran with Dutch the entire race, showing him the ropes.
Scout and Willie
Scruggs is another veteran that he helped me win the Quest two years ago and he definitely has not forgotten the trail here. You could tell he was perking up more and more the further we went; he knew where the truck was! He was a steady boy the whole time.
Waylon is our 'hairless dog' and this year it was in his benefit to have no hair with the 30+ degree temperatures. Very rarely do we not have to put a coat on him and this year was the exception. Maybe that’s why he did as well as he did.
Scruggs and Waylon
Schmoe-dawg probably more than most dogs, he was always the tightest on the line. He knew his place in the team and he performed well. Always up the hills and when you get ready to leave from a rest stop he is the most vocal. He gets the rest of the team inspired to do better – he's the cheerleader of the team.
Mac also, to my surprise, was a huge cheerleader numerous times. When we would get close to a checkpoint I would think someone is hurting him as he was screaming and yelling and excited to be there. He performed well in the heat surprisingly and I could tell how hot it was by how hard we was running. Seems like big dogs, like big people, don’t do as well when it is hot. He perservered and was definitely running well all the way to the finish line.
Schmoe and Mac
Mismo was in lead probably 75% of the race. You can tell Quito is his mother; he runs like her but is about twice as big! I had him in lead for a reason, because he was always tight and pulling. We expect really good things out of him over the next few years. Hopefully he will be as good as his mother.
Izzy is a very strong dog, she had been injured a little earlier this year and I was kinda worried for her, however after a few hundred miles I didn’t have to worry. Her line was as tight as she could be and I put her in lead for the last 50 miles of the race because she was one of the tightest, if not THE tightest of the whole team. She, like her brother Mismo, was taking after their mother Quito a lot at the end of the race. She could definitely be a command leader in the future.
Mismo and Izzy
Clyde has run six 1000 miles races and as a four year old what can you say about that? He has run more races than any younger dog that we've ever had, such is his talent. This is mainly because of his eating habits. He always eats as much as you give him so always has more energy than most. If we could have 14 or 16 dogs that eat like him we'd have a lot more energy at the end of the race. It is always a positive and it's great to see a dog eating and drinking well in the middle of the race - he’s that dog.
Felix is always faster than most dogs, he lopes most of the time and he can give you a lot of speed, which he did. He ate well in the first part of the race but coming into Dawson he got a bug and started having diarrhea and his energy level went down. After 36 horus of medicine and care, his appetite never came back so we decided not to continue with him.
Clyde and Felix
Chipper has a good name! She is named after a chipper in golf but is also very chipper in her attitue. She's a pint sized little dog that has a huge heart and it doesn't seem like heat nor distance bother her. She's very agile and she also could be a great command leader, like her mother, in the future. She was no trouble and did well.
Kodiak like Mismo was in lead 75% of the time. So you have to have a little perseverance to be in lead that much, which he had. The only time he got a little 'squirly' with me was when I put Izzy up there and girls make him crazy! He just wanted to lay his head on her shoulder and didn't pull tight so I had to take him out of lead. He’s a good leader and could become a great leader in the future.
Chipper and Kodiak
Kodiak's brother, Dutch, is another younger dog that hasn’t had that much experience until now. I was very pleased to see how hard he worked and didn’t mess around. Dutch was always tight and is another good dog for the future. He will do nothing but get better and he was good this year!
Commando was my youngest dog. He ran 1000 mile race when he was a yearling and now he was on the 'A' team for the first time because he was healthier than most other dogs prior to the race. I was a little worried at first because of his age, and he did go through a lot of mind-over-matter issues earlier in the race only to thrive by the end. He could definitely be a superstar for the futre. To be two years old having finished two 1000 mile races, going into a third is pretty impressive.
Dutch and Commando
When you finish with 13 healthy dogs you have to be happy, which we are! Every kennel goes through a rebuilding year or two and this year is ours. When you lose your LeBron James the team is not going to be quite the same but we are working on it!! For a rebuilding year we couldn’t ask for much more.
All photos by Barbara Swenson