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, May 23, 2017

Coffee Break

We are enjoying the beginnings of summer in Two Rivers. We are rotating the dogs through our three 'Play Pens'. Today Decaf and Creamer were in Pen #1 and Rodney and Ginger in Pen #2. Scruggs and Sandy spent the afternoon in Pen #3.
Here is a fun video:

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

It's a dog's life

Spring and summer are excellent seasons to be a husky in Alaska. Granted, we are not going on thousand mile adventure trips across the state... BUT we are exploring the trails and forests in our own neighborhood. And sometimes, as people say, sticking around home is kinda fun. Right, dogs?

Yesterday, the morning group of dogs on the walk was: Mismo, Izzy, Champ, Chipper, Willie, Tig and Aliy. There was a minor miscommunication between Chipper, Izzy and Aliy. Chipper antagonized Izzy in the last 200 yards and the two rushed off together in a "huff". Aliy assumed they LEFT HER and ran the mile home to the kennel. The dogs know the way home. So, Aliy took the rest of the dogs home. But she was wrong! Chipper and Izzy only went around the curve in the trail. When they came back they realized Aliy had LEFT THEM!.

No one panicked. Well... Chipper is so high strung it would be hard to tell what her 'panic state' might be. But, we all met up 10 minutes later at the same spot we had "lost" each other. There were a few glares, eye rolls and 'what the heck did you do that for' moments. But then Izzy and Aliy both decided it was all Chipper's fault and the three trotted home.

The afternoon group was: QT, Amber, Commando, Felix, Olivia, Aliy and Wendy. After the first 5 minutes of Commando strutting his stuff and Felix coming out of his shell, the hour long walk went great. We even have photos!

The slough still has a little ice. The afternoon was beautiful.

Olivi and her kids; Commando and Amber smell the only green around.

L - R: That is Amber NOT a beaver; QT stares at the camera!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mothers' Day

Happy Mothers' Day to you all, whether your children are human or not!

To celebrate let's take a quick look back at some of our mothers being mothers.

Chica and her Five puppies

Five minutes with Five puppies

Olivia and her Fire Litter

Big O and the Fire Litter at three weeks

Quito with her Golf Litter

Quito and her Latinos

Video of the Latinos at one week old

Quito and her Golden Harnesses

Quito and her Olympics

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Good with the Bad

In the previous post, I mentioned that we now have a half dozen retired dogs at SP Kennel. I did not mention ChaCha or Rambler in the post. Quite a few SP fans took notice of their absence and have since asked about them. I guess, in life, we are told to accept the good with the bad. But, honesty... sometimes sadness prevails over logic. Anyhow, I just couldn't get myself to write anything about the passing of these two great dogs. I will do that now.

ChaCha is no longer with us. Her life was amazingly full and she lived to be nearly 15 years old. She was an fantastic racing dog and a great ambassador for the sport. She lived out a full life at SP Kennel. Her favorite spot the last few months was snuggled in the coffee table crate that is in the center of the house. On top of the crate we would often set photos, fan mail or race paraphernalia. So she was the "center" of the kennel until her very last days.

HERE is a post that was published when ChaCha turned 14 years old. She was an exceptionally gifted sled dog, but she was also a sweet girl who loved everyone.

Most of all, we miss her generous kisses, her perky ears and her competitive bark. There isn't a day that goes by that we don't see her personality and physical traits as we look out at her offspring here at SP Kennel.

We were extremely fortunate to walk alongside such a phenomenal dog.

Rambler - Lamb chop - persevered for several years after being diagnosed with Cushings. This disease was not kind to him. He lost most of his hair and had to wear a long sleeved fleece jacket most of the time.

Rambler was able to travel with the team even in the end. He was present for the 2017 Iditarod Ceremonial Start in Anchorage and cheered loudly from the sidelines. He lived to be 9 1/2 years old and was a very happy soul despite his sickness.

HERE is a video of Rambler prior to Cushing's disease and HERE is a post about him after his health issues sidelined him from racing.

Rambler's legacy is a 2nd place finish in the Iditarod and a 1st place finish in the collection of dog toys. He absolutely loved his stuffed animal collection. Dr. Rose gave him his last stuffed animal just before he left us.

Rambler was most happy when he got a dog biscuit. He was our official biscuit "taste tester" and sampled every dog treat that came on the property.

Rambler reminded us that life is not always easy and can be short; but do your best to enjoy your biscuits while you can.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Hotshot finds a new Love

Each summer we retire select dogs from their SP Kennel racing careers. Our philosophy has always been and will always be: "the right home, for the right dog, at the right time". We are never in a hurry to "move dogs" and they will stay here until the timing is correct for them to leave. Of course, some dogs will never leave. But, the fact is: "We only have one couch, and Allen has to fit on it too!" So we try to keep our retired dog population living at SP Kennel to a minimum. At this time we have six older, non competitive dogs: Bullet (15 years), Nutmeg (13 years), Biscuit (12 years), Quito (11 years), Nacho (11 years) and Tig (9 years). We also have brother and sister: Scout and Olivia (10 years) who may or may not race next year.

It is with a mixed blessing to retire any SP Kennel dog. But the fact of the matter is that we are a competitive racing kennel. When we are truthful with ourselves (and with our fans), that fact needs to override the desire to keep every one of our awesome dogs and turn our kennel into a Alaskan Husky Fun House. Sounds "fun" but not real competitive, huh?

It is only because I spend a great deal of time finding the correct home for each retiree, that I am able to let these dogs go. Of course you know how much time we spend with each dog, so it is very emotional when the perfect home comes along! The "right home at the right time" has come along for Hotshot.

L - R: Mal and Hotshot in Anchorage before flying to Nome; Husky "helping" with Homework!

With Hotshot's move to his new home, he will be the center of the universe for a very neat young girl. Hotshot will bring great joy to Mallory and her family in Nome, Alaska. His life will be very different from his racing season earlier this year in which he competed in: the Cooper Basin 300, Two Rivers 200, Yukon Quest 300, Burger Run and Iditarod. Mallory and her Dad are very active skiers and enjoy the company of several huskys to pull them along. Mal's Dad sent me a photo of the pair on an adventure in the Arctic last winter. In every photo, Mallory was far in front. I asked him if he could ever keep up with his daughter. He laughed! He has been skiing with one older dog and he said that most of the time Mallory has to wait for him. I thought... "Hummmmm. I might have the perfect dog for you guys!" My only fear now is that Mallory will add Hotshot to her skijor team and poor Dad will be left even farther behind!

A photo from last winter - Mal waiting for Dad.

As I write this (and lecture myself this morning) let's all remember that it would be self-centered, and certainly not in the best interest of SP Kennel as a whole, to keep every dog all the time. So, hopefully you can smile at Hotshot's retirement from SP Kennel.

We have a few dogs retiring from the kennel this summer. I promise to keep you up to date.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Letters from young Fans

We LOVE to get letters and correspondence from our young fans. (We enjoy our older fans as well, but you are currently not the topic of conversation!) There are many schools across the country that have 'Iditarod Curriculums' ~ thus we receive a multitude of letters, small gifts and cards. It is amazing to read the notes of encouragement or essays explaining a child's passion or hobby or simply a drawing of their dog.

I have told this story before:
I had been racing Iditarod for several years and had placed well into the top 20. But in 2004, my race was poor and I came in 34th. (Thus far, that is my lowest finishing placement.) Anyhow, much more was expected of me by: me, my friends, my sponsors and fans. It was a bummer to cross the finish line with only 6 dogs in harness. I got a lot of letters from kids that year saying: "Too bad", "I wish you did better", "I picked you to win... what happened?" These were all totally understandable comments.
By far, the BEST letter I have ever gotten in the 17 years of receiving letters from fans ~ young and older ~ came that spring from a young girl in Michigan. It said "I watched your race and rooted for you. I know that you didn't win any priz mony, so I sent you my allowance." Yes... I shed a lot of tears reading that one. And to this day, the taped up roll of quarters sits on our trophy shelf right next to Allen's Sportsmanship Awards, our Yukon Quest Championship trophies and my 'Spirit of the North' award. Those quarters are very, very important to me.

Allen went to the Post Office yesterday. And please note the stack of taped quarters in the center.

Needless to say, we do our best to write back to all of the kids. It is important. Personal correspondence seems to have less and less importance in society today and now many kids don't even think of writing a letter when they could just "like" someone on Facebook or "follow" their Twitter feed. Anyhow... I guess I am 'old school'. I am still in favor of personal correspondence at SP Kennel.

Maybe it is because when I was 10 years old, I wrote a lot of letters. One year, I wrote to the leaders of all of the nations who still commercially hunted whales. Whales were very near and dear to me back then. (Not surprisingly, so were dogs. That's another story all together.) I don't recall any specific names or addresses, but I clearly remember scribbling addresses onto small envelopes: To the Prime Minister of Japan, To the President of Taiwan and To the Leader of the Soviet Union. I do not know how my Mom actually sent those letters. Could an American actually send a letter to the USSR is 1980? Anyhow, I was very excited about writing and sending those letters and I checked to see if anyone wrote me back. No one did.

Quick history lesson: in the 1980's commercial whaling was a hot topic because it became obvious that the practice was harming the global whale population by killing more whales than were actually being born. At 10 years old, I became an enthusiastic part of the grassroots 'Save the Whales' campaign that was started by a 14 year old girl in California. I sold posters, t-shirts, walked door-to-door with petitions and sent letters. In 1986, both hunters and non hunters agreed to a commercial whaling was ban. Back then, I was pretty convinced that my letters had an impact. Whether my mom ever even mailed them... I haven't asked.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

ID: "Aliy Cam" Climbing Little McKinley

This year, as with many other years, Aliy carried a hand held video camera to capture sections of the trail she wanted to share with you all.

In this video, the last in the series, the team is climbing Little McKinley towards Golovin Bay. You will see how hard everyone is working, and hear as Aliy ski-poles to help the team along (she has the camera on a mount on the handlebar).

Sunday, April 30, 2017

End of Season Break-Up

Break-up means a few different things here at the kennel.

Spring break-up on a fast track in Two Rivers with the snow nearly all melted. The yard has been very damp and "Mud season" is upon us. Allen has a water pump draining various lowland sections of the yard so that everyone has a dry spot to spend the sunny afternoons.

Break up also means our crew has dispersed around the globe. Ruth has returned home to Norway to her husband and dogs. As she reports, winter still has a hold of northern Scandinavia. Chris is now living above Juneau on a glacier for another summer introducing tourists to the love of dog sledding.

Ruth and Chris enjoy a final evening together at SP Kennel with Springtime cocktails.

Moira is now home in New Zealand after taking a few days to visit Oklahoma City to watch some NBA basketball (as the Thunder's starting centre is a Kiwi!) She is now beginning yet another season of winter!

Moira cheers for the one and only Kiwi playing in the NBA.

Aliy and Allen are currently in the lower 48 visiting with family. They left the kennel for a week in the trustworthy hands of Wendy and Wes; as well as good friends and hard workers: the Earle Girls. Thank you guys for "holding down the fort".

Break-up also means that activity here on the DogLog will slow down. Thanks for being with us through this racing season, we have enjoyed bringing you coverage of racing and training. There is one more "Aliy Cam" video from the 2017 Race and she is also working on a long over due 'Race Recap'.

We will try to bring you some interesting happenings from around the kennel and elsewhere over the summer. Keep checking back occasionally to see what we are up to, and remember, everything ramps up again in September and October!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

ID: "Aliy Cam" Shaktoolik to Koyuk

This year, as with many other years, Aliy carried a hand held video camera to capture sections of the trail she wanted to share with you all.

In this video, the fifth in the series, we see three different sections of the trail between Shaktoolik to Koyuk. You will get to see up close, the Shelter Cabin we often talk about, and get to experience a little wind!

Monday, April 24, 2017

ID: "Aliy Cam" Onto Sea Ice

This year, as with many other years, Aliy carried a hand held video camera to capture sections of the trail she wanted to share with you all.

In this video, the forth in the series, the team steps onto the sea ice just after the checkpoint in the village of Shaktoolik, heading towards Koyuk.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

ID: "Aliy Cam" Near Kaltag

This year, as with many other years, Aliy carried a hand held video camera to capture sections of the trail she wanted to share with you all.

In this video, the third in the series, the team is heading towards Kaltag at sunrise. Isn't it gorgeous?

Monday, April 17, 2017

ID: "Aliy Cam" Five Miles From Koyukuk

This year, as with many other years, Aliy carried a hand held video camera to capture sections of the trail she wanted to share with you all.

In this video, the second in the series, the team is about five miles from the village of Koyukuk, travelling through some moose country.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

ID: "Aliy Cam" Towards Huslia

This year, as with many other years, Aliy carried a hand held video camera to capture sections of the trail she wanted to share with you all.

In this video, the first in the series, the team is heading towards Huslia and Aliy talks about her team and the trail.

Monday, April 3, 2017

ID: Red Team Video

A glimpse of the Red Team's journey in the 2017 Iditarod including snippets from "Aliy Cam" that will be posted separately during spring.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Artistic License - Celebrity Jury

Aliy has been invited to be part of the "celebrity jury" for a fun new project. The state of Alaska is opening a call to all Alaskans to brainstorm, create, and submit designs for their ideal license plate.

The panel of Alaskan judges will choose finalists, and a statewide vote will decide the winning design.

The new plate will be available for all Alaskans to put on their cars as an official DMV-issued license plate for a limited run through the next four years, before the call opens again, and a new design is chosen.

So, if you are an Alaskan with a flair for design the panel wants to hear from you. Click here for more details including design guidelines and how to enter.

Friday, March 31, 2017

End of Season Dog Fan Club Draw

To mark the end of the season we made one final Dog Fan Club draw. Thank you all so much for joining our Dog Fan Club. We love that you love our dogs as much as we do!

The Dog Fan Club is now closed but check back at the start of October when we will open it up again for the new season.

Congrats to Lyn MacDougall, Violet's fan and Jaylee Bousman and Emily Lucas who are fans of Creamer.

Violet made the "big time" this year, culminating in running the Iditarod in the Red Team. She is a talented sled dog and the biggest snuggler. She will literally climb up into your arms and happily be carried around.

Creamer ran with Chris in both the Two Rivers 100 and the Northern Lights 300 this year. We are excited about her prospects next season.

You both win a "Lead On, Aliy!" T-shirt promoting the the "Lead On' campaign in association with ANDVSA and Matson, plus a signed Verizon "Better Matters" Poster. We hope you enjoy your packets thanks to two of our Lead Dog sponsors, Matson and Verizon.

To find out more about the Lead On campaign, and how to donate go to andvsa.org. All moneys donated during March, April and May will go towards helping children from the villages along the Iditarod Trail attend the Lead On! Conference in November.

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

Thanks again for being part of our Dog Fan Club! We appreciate your support.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

ID: Black Team Video

From Ceremonial Start in Anchorage to the Finish Line in Nome, here is a small portion of the Black Team's journey in the 2017 Iditarod.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

ID: Black Team Wrap-Up

A few weeks after the race Allen gives his thoughts on the team that carried him 1000 miles from Fairbanks to Nome.

What can you say about Scout that's not already been said? He's outlasted almost all his siblings and still came in lead at the finish line of another 1000 mile race - his #12! That should say it all in a nutshell. There is nothing he hasn't done in the last few years in any race we put him in, and still never ceases to amaze with his longevity. He's a great dog.

Olivia was on all the championship teams and we were a little worried about putting her in this team; it was kind of a last minute decision but she had no injuries this year and she performed like a superstar. This was #11 1000 mile race for her.

You keep throwing adversity in Waylon's face and he keeps coming out on top, whether it is having a dog with no hair or just had one of his toes amputated; he still never ceases to amaze. He ran in lead for at least half of the race. He has a lot of heart and I wish we had more dogs just like him and we would be even more successful.

Willie is another "old one" and this will probably be his last 1000 mile race. It's good to have all these older dogs that were on the winning Quest teams and 2nd place Iditarod teams. It is good to see him pass the torch on to the youngsters and teach them as well as he has. Good boy Willie.

Scooter is the best cheerleader a team could ever have. She will always make you smile, even at mile 800 when we just did a long run and I asked them "are you ready to go" and she is up going "ape" like she hadn't run all year. She was the motivator to get the team up and ready to go, just like she has always been. She's a great dog, she eats well and another great "oldie".

Chemo is steady. He has always been steady. He's not the fastest dog we've ever had but I had him in lead for 300 miles at the beginning because he is a steering wheel and could get us through any difficulty with ease. He is just a relaxed kind of a dog and I enjoy having him on the team.

It's funny to say but now even Outlaw is getting older; it's hard to see him as an "older dog". He's had a few injuries this year and we wondered how he would do in another 1000 mile race but he came through and worked through all the injuries and performed well without ever hesitating. He's a good steady wheel dog that likes to go.

Probably the best asset that Clyde has, and has always had, is his appetite. If we could have more dogs with his appetite we would have a much better team; that's why we have bred him several times in the last couple of years to get that trait. With appetite you have energy and usually they always finish because of that - him and his offspring.

Chipper the fireball - all 32 pounds of her. Running the Quest wasn't enough for her and she thought she should run Iditarod in lead for most of the time. She is 32 pounds but has the heart of a 70 pound dog - whenever we get to a checkpoint people think she's a puppy but she soon lets them know that she is not with her attitude.

Lydia is another petite gal that likes to lope and go fast as much as she can. She also was in lead for a few hundred miles but the hardest thing about her is you can't see her when she's in lead so you don't know what she's doing. But, again, she pulled through and finished another 1000 mile race and that makes her a superstar.

Chena was probably the biggest stand out on the team. She can easily be in the "A" team and probably will be from now on. She led for several hundred miles also and she's a driving force when in lead. It's hard to tell because when the team is resting she acts like she wants to rest forever, until you get up to go. Then you see what type of dog she really is - which is a driving force.

Nomex has definitely come in to his own. He was probably second to Chena and surprised me more than most dogs. He has been prone to injury - in the Quest he had to stop 500 miles in. But he recovered and we were worried about him getting injured again. Thankfully he proved us wrong! He was always happy, energetic and liked to eat, and always wanted to flirt with the girls.

Tinder was a great dog for probably three quarters of the race. Gastro intestinal issues hampered him from finishing the race strongly. He didn't eat well for a while and that hurt him as far as energy level, thus I dropped him at White Mountain as he ran out of energy. Since we've been home he's been eating well, is 100 percent and will be a great dog in the future.

Hotshot's a funny dog. He was one of the last picks for the team because he actually tries too hard and to my pleasant surprise, going into the 24 hour layover he was a rock star. I was so surprised, I even told Aliy at the Galena that he's as good as any dog I had at that point. That's the good news. The bad news is, when we left our 24 hour layover he seemed like he was hurt on every joint thus he scampered into the the next checkpoint slowly and was not pulling for 50 miles so I decided to leave him at Huslia - the halfway point. As always, he tried a little too hard and that's probably where the injuries come from but it was good to see him make it halfway through he race.

Five is definitely like his father in his eating which helped him have a lot of energy. Most two year olds have a lot of hurdles to get through in a 1000 mile race and he kept amazing me with how strong he was at the end of every run. He started to get sore wrists, which I wrapped and I promised to drop him at the next checkpoint if he got sore, but midway through the run he excelled so I didn't drop him and didn't drop him... until suddenly we were at the finish. Can't ask any more from a two year old that what Five gave.

Scooby is another crazy two year old. He too, tries too hard but he got over that hurdle and started settling down into a steady trot and as the race went on grew stronger and stronger. He got more and more confident and realised that we were not going to stop. As the finish line approached he got excited, every though he's never been to the finish line he knew something was going on, I guess he sensed that from his more mature team mates. Hopefully that enthusiasm for the finish line will help us in the future coming into Nome with him on the team.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Olympic Litter in Harness

Why do they...? How do they...? What the...?

Anyone who has ever asked "How do you get the dogs to run?" should watch this video. The answer? "They just do".

Aliy and Ruth took the Olympic puppies for their first run in harness on Friday and they pulled from the moment the sled left the kennel to the moment they got back. It is always so exciting to see a puppy's inherent desire to pull without any instruction or practice.

Quito, Waylon, Nacho, Olivia, Biscuit and Nutmeg provided some experience up the front and looked just as excited as the pups!

We run the pups without neck lines for the first time to see what they do; to get an idea of what's on their mind. A neck line will often mask that. Later on, early next season, as they start learning trail manners we will periodically put neck lines on them to help them make the right decision with passing teams or crossing other trails.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Nome Council 200 Wrap Up and Video

Congrats Bridgett and the R&Bs!

At the starting line

Here are some thoughts from Bridgett about her stellar team:

Chena ran in lead the whole race - she is excellent. Chemo is great too but set a slower pace so he was moved back in a in a team position and was most powerful in the hills.

Chipper was as sassy as a dog can possibly be and ran in lead a lot including coming across the finish line in lead. Lydia was the most driven dog and also ran lead but looked to her sister Chena for the all the commands.

Topkok Shelter Cabin, Climbing the Topkok hills

Amber ran in single swing and was the cheerleader. Nomex can spot any kind of cabin, critter or snow machine from a far distance. He is the most aware was what’s going on and would tell me when we were coming upon anything.

Iron and Driver - the Big Boys - are awesome. When you tickle Iron’s belly he will roll over for a scratch. Driver is truly a sweetheart.

Outlaw and Clyde are tough and strong and you can tell why they win races. Willie has a heart of Gold - what a good boy.”

Chipper and Chena led over the line

Thanks to Kami for capturing some of this action.

All the dogs are now on their way back to the kennel having flown out of Nome this morning. Allen was in Anchorage to meet them and drive them home. Bridgett stays one more night to attend the Banquet and Prize giving.

Quadruple Dog Fan Club Draw

To mark the end of the racing season we did a quadruple Dog Fan Club Draw.

Congrats to Teresa Clark, Schmoe's fan, Jan Andersson, a fan of Olivia, Helen Gross who is a fan of Sanka, and Candace Korasick who is a fan of Cayenne.

Schmoe and Olivia

Schmoe is so enthusiastic, you can count on him to have a chat with you, whether he's lying on his dog house or running down the trail. Olivia is, quite simply, a superstar. There is nothing she cannot do: she's a media darling, supermom, Quest Champion, Iditarod runner-up and a happy, fun dog to have around.

Sanka and Cayenne

Sanka has a very promising career in front of her as she and her Coffee siblings and Golden Harness cousins head into their first season as "racing dogs". Cayenne is gorgeous! She so enjoys playing in the yard with her neighbour boys Scooby, Mismo and Scout, often racing around in circles interacting with all three at the same time.

You all win signed copies of both the Yukon Quest and Iditarod Race Guides plus a photo print portrait of your dogs, along with a few other kennel goodies. We hope you enjoy your packets.

We will do a final End of Season draw on March 31st. Everyone who has joined by the time of the draw and hasn't already won will be in to win!

Click the button below for more information about how to join:

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

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Nome Council 200 Winners!

Congratulations to Bridgett, Chemo, Chena, Amber, Chipper, Lydia, Nomex, Driver, Iron, Willie, Outlaw and Clyde!

They crossed the finish line in Nome in first place. We're so proud of you all.

We will get more details to you as soon as we have some.

Nome - Council 200 Race Update 2

The Team left the Council Checkpoint after an 8 hour rest. They will now travel back the trail that they took to arrive. This is now the SAME direction that the Iditarod teams go - of course this is super training for all the future Iditarod racers on the team. The dogs (and mushers) get more excited the closer they get to the finish.

Of course we are keeping an eye on the Blowhole and wind conditions at Johnson's Camp. All morning the wind has been very calm. Keep your paws crossed.

Here is a video from 2013 Iditarod of Aliy and the Red Team mushing on the western coast, you will see and hear the wind.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Nome - Council 200 Race Update

Bridgett and her Red & Black Team are currently resting in Council. There is a mandatory eight hour layover at the checkpoint.

The team left Nome this morning at 10am with Chemo and Chena in lead, followed by Amber and Chipper, Lydia and Nomex, Driver by himself, then Iron and Willie and Outlaw and Clyde in wheel. After climbing over Cape Nome and passing Safety Roadhouse, they stopped to camp at the Topkok Shelter cabin - around 47 miles in - for three hours. After that rest the team climbed up over the Topkok hills and along the Niukluk River before arriving in Council.

The start was a mass start of the three entered teams, therefore there is no time differential to see out. They can leave exactly eight hours after they arrived and will return to Nome on the same trail they went out on. Nome friends Curtis and Kami were on hand to video the Start this morning. Thanks guys!

We have been watching the weather at the infamous "blowhole" as it can change in an instant from calm 3mph winds, as it was this morning when the team went through, to ferocious ground storms that Aliy and Pete Kaiser experienced on their way to Nome just a couple of weeks ago. Check out the Alaska Snow, Water and Climate Services website here. I believe Johnson's Camp is in the blowhole area.

We'll be watching the tracker overnight to see what's going on as they head home to Nome. GO TEAM!!

Two Rivers Valley Funale

We had great fun putting together the teams for the Valley Funale today. Chris and Ruth stressed a little before the race start since Allen and Aliy were going to be their only race handlers. As you can imagine, Allen and Aliy needed to fill some pretty big 'handler shoes' after a season of Super Handlers at SPK. But, the kennel is lucky because Mark showed up half way through the event and lessened the pressure. Plus the Earle Family was there to pick up any slack.
Thanks Crew!

Ruth ran a team of entirely Olivia X Nacho puppies. In the 20 mile/10 dog class she took Junior, Spark, Tinder, Daisy, Hotshot, Creamer, Perky, Barista, Sanka and Bean. What a fantastically happy and somewhat caffeinated group of dogs. The leaders kept a swift pace and Tinder and Daisy were super excited to be in swing position. Hotshot was feeling all better after leaving Iditarod early at the Huslia Checkpoint. And the extra caffeine - provided by five of the Coffee Pups in the Team - allowed Ruth to edge out Chris by just a few seconds.
Olivia and Nacho puppies are the present and future of SP Kennel! Great race Ruth.

Ruth and the Olivia "caffeine team" come across the Finish line.

Chris raced a team of all Quito puppies: Woody, Mismo, Izzy, Wedgy, Felix, QT, Jefe, Dancer, Bruno and McCaw in the 20 mile/10 dog class. The big grins that Mismo and Woody had when crossing the finish line were priceless. Both boys did not cross the finish line in Iditarod, so they were tremendously happy to be 100% again and leading the charge. Izzy and Felix were a brother/sister 'one - two' punch and Wedgy was excited to be racing. Chris has spent a tremendous amount of time with the youngsters so racing the twins: Bruno and QT, little powerhouse Dancer, and the two Big Boys: McCaw and Jefe was a thrill to watch at the end of the season.

Chris and the Quito Pup Team come across the Finish line.

Moira ran a Potpourri dog team. A what?!?! That means there was no theme to her team but they are a marvelous mixed group of wonderful SP Kennel dogs.... just like a basket of Potpourri. Moira's team for the 10 mile/6 dog class was Quito, Olivia, Scruggs, Schmoe, Pepe and Rodney. Olivia and Quito ran in lead. (They said that they had to be on the race since many of their pups were out there on the course.) Schmoe has been so happy since Iditarod that he convinced Aliy to put him on the team by being the loudest howler Friday night ... pick me.... pick me... Pepe hadn't race yet this season so he got a chance today. Scruggs hasn't been in a race harness since the Copper Basin 300 and really wanted to spend some quality time with Moira before she returns to New Zealand. And Rodney wins the Most Enthusiasmtic Dog at SP for finishing both the YQ and ID and desperating wanting to do another race! Moira, as well as her six happy huskys, finished with smiles!

Moira and the Potpourri team come across the Finish line.

The junior races were such fun! Junior and Dutch raced in the two dog class with both Jacob and Timber and everyone had a blast. Jacob did well to recover after an excursion into the fence and Timber held on to finish with a clean run. Nice work boys!!

Jacob and Timber compete in the two dog class with Dutch and Junior

Chloe and Waylon teamed up for the one dog class and did GREAT! At one point Chloe lost her footing, ran behind the sled for a while then got right back on! They finished second in their class.

Chloe and Waylon; the kids races

Because we talk often about Rodney's appetite we decided to put our money where his mouth is and entered him in the "Hungry Dog" competition. He did well, but was clearly not the most "greedy" dog in the neighbourhood!

Thanks to the TRDMA and Pleasant Valley Store plus all the volunteers for once again putting on such a fun community event.

- Aliy