Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Letter from SP Kennel

We are entering into our second full month of sled dog training here at SP Kennel. October will be a month of consistent and reliable training. We expect to have the dogs well adjusted to longer, steady miles. By the end of the month, we will be well into hill training and speed intervals.

Our current weather is ideal for this time of year. The nights are cool with temperatures into the 20's. Daytime temperatures are in the upper 30's and occasionally into the 40's. Ice has formed on the puddles and ponds. The small puddles are as hard as ice skating rinks, but the larger, deep puddles break open as the dogs trot through - offering them a well deserved drink. There is a small amount of snow on the ground, especially in the hills.

We have defined several of our racing goals for the season:
  • The Sheep Mountain 150 is scheduled for the second weekend in December. This is a stage race with three 50 mile legs. The route is in the heart of the Alaska Range Mountains. The fitness of the musher, as well as the dogs, is important in this race. SP Kennel took 2nd place last year.
  • The Copper Basin Sled Dog Race will once again start the second Saturday in January. The challenging 300 mile race has been won by either Lance Mackey or, our own, Allen Moore, for the last 5 years. We expect to have a fantastic team in the event.
  • The Denali Doubles Sled Dog Race will be a new 265 mile event established by Jeff King. It is very intriguing since it requires that two mushers participate with each dog team. This race is scheduled for the second week in February. What a combo: a husband/wife SP Kennel team!

The Alaska Dog Mushers Association hosts their annual Sled Dog Symposium in early October. Aliy has been asked to speak about “Caring for the Health of your Dogs’ Feet”, whereas Allen will be speaking to the audience about his success in Mid Distance races.

I hope that you all continue to monitor the Dog Log ( I plan to answer the many questions that I have received from some of you very soon - I am working on audio post responses to them all.

Some of you have asked for more videos on the Dog Log. Trust me - the reorder is working! Macgellan, our video expert and Dog Log creator, hopes to return to SP Kennel before winter. His skill of being able to share the passion and energy of the SP Kennel dog family last season was priceless. We are excited that with his help, SP Kennel will offer the most educational and entertaining internet source on sled dog sports.

We are on to a new month and new adventures!


Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Visit to Nome

Jacob sports his Nome Mukluks

Our annual visit to Nome is usually at the end of Iditarod. This year we have made an additional visit to see this great little Alaskan town and, more importantly, our family. Bridgett and Scotty, and their dogs Remington and Girlfriend have been sharing their house with older sister, Jennifer, her baby, Jacob and husband, Kevin. So, we enjoyed a short family reunion this weekend.

As we all know, Nome is a fun town at the end of a 1,000 mile sled dog race, but it is quite a neat place during late September as well. The wildlife is superb: thousands of migratory waterfowl, reindeer, bear and, of course, the town pets: Musk oxen.

The ocean and front street look quite a bit different this time of year. The Iditarod trail markers are evident out across the tundra, but are, of course, non existent on the ocean.

The Iditarod Trail - 4 miles from the Finish Line

Thursday, September 24, 2009


What do you think, Cha Cha?

Snow on the ground - September 24th

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Thank you Bridgett!

As many folks know, Bridgett, Allen's daughter, comes to the kennel for a week every month. She is able to visit like this because she works as a nurse in Nome. She schedules her 12 hour night shifts consecutively so that she'll then have consecutive days off. Usually when she arrives at the kennel she has been awake for at least 24 hours. She just left this morning and will begin her next shift tonight at 7:30.

This week at SP Kennel was full thanks to Bridgett. Of course, the priority was to train the dogs. The ATV four wheelers were in full use as we trained 4 dog teams per day. Training began early in the morning and finished by noon. This left the afternoon for chores.

The first chore was to remove all of the dog houses from the yard. The dog's were a bit confused and watched us intently as we pressure washed the dirt and grim from their homes.

After a thorough washing, we stacked the houses to dry. Then we repaired any loose roofs, sides or legs. We also replaced dog dishes and floors.

After the houses dried, we began to paint. And paint. And paint. Our original goal was to paint 15 houses a day, move them into the basement to dry overnight and start over the next day. We got 15 the first day! Twelve the second .... and even less the third day. So, we kicked it into high gear on Bridgett's last day and nearly finished our goal.

Needless to say, there was red paint everywhere!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Lost Dog

I apoligize for not posting in the last week but we had a long, sorrowful week. We lost a dog last Sunday afternoon and my concerns were elsewhere.

Moose hunting season is September 1st until the 15th. There are many hunters who think Two Rivers is an unpopulated hunting paradise. These people don't realize that there are actually quite a few homes and cabins tucked back in the woods. So, these hunters will drive trucks and 4 wheelers all around our neighborhood like it is the back country - especially on a nice Sunday afternoon.

One of our dogs was walking with my mom, when my mom stepped into the little cabin on the driveway to change her shoes. The dog was playing in the field and probably ventured out the driveway. We think that perhaps one of these people picked up our dog at the end of our driveway because mom heard repetitive "honking" from a vehicle then ..... no dog. All of this happened in less than 5 minutes.

The next few days were filled with sorrow and heart ache - everyone felt to blame. Her collar with ID tag was laying right where I had taken it off earlier that day. Allen had driven past a truck leaving the neighborhood with dog kennels, but hadn't looked in the kennels. Mom just couldn't believe it all happened so fast.

Needles to say, we scoured the area and told EVERYONE. We made many huge signs (with bright orange paint) and posted them the night that she went missing. The next day we made more signs and placed them in and round Fairbanks. I, like most people, have friends with many different connections. I used every connection that I knew to get the word out. The "lost dog" information was soon on the local radio and TV stations.

On Tuesday evening, I got a phone call from a woman who said "Aliy, I am sure that I have your dog." She and her husband had been fishing about 25 miles from our house. When they started back to their truck they saw a frightened dog in the ditch. It wouldn't come to them, so she took out her dog and some food and coaxed it to come. She thought it looked like it had jumped out of a vehicle and was lost. So, she took it home. She had heard about our lost dog on the radio and called. Thank goodness..... it was our dog!

So, I am writing this post to talk about what we did wrong and what we did right. Perhaps we can all learn from it.

What we did wrong:
  • always monitor a loose dog
  • always keep a collar (with ID) on your dogs
  • get a micro chip in every dog (not just race dogs)
  • keep track of holidays or times when more people will be around (hunting season, 4th of July, long weekends)
What we did right:
  • immediately tell everyone that you lost a dog - neighbors, post office, local stores
  • contact animal control and the local Vet offices
  • put an ad in the Newspaper "Lost & Found"
  • put up large readable signs and posters
  • get the info on the radio and tv as soon as possible
  • put a large reward to get people's attention
So.... now life is back to the normal chaos!

You gotta love those dogs! (You can't help it.)
Collar with ID

Saturday, September 12, 2009

To Do Series: Post 2

Build 20 New Dogs Houses

I am excited about our accomplishment today!

The goal was to make sure that our dogs have luxury accommodations for this coming winter. It was obvious when I walked through the yard, that some of our older dog houses needed to be replaced. There were several with holes in their roofs, a few with one leg shorter then the others and one with only three sides. So, I surveyed the yard and marked each house - orange spot: throw out, green spot: fix, no spot: good for another year. Needless to say, the yard is quite colorful now!

Pingo's house get an orange spot

Allen was the master carpenter and put together 20 brand new houses. But, we still have another check mark before the dogs get these new abodes - we must paint them. Stay tuned and see how colorful the dog yard can get!

Allen the carpenter

Sam helps out

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Teddy looks fantastic right now. She is 8 years old this year. This is not old, per say, but it is mature.

This morning, while harnessing, she got as excited as she did when she was a puppy. She jumped on her house, wagged her tail and barked - but when I reached over her head to place the harness, she bolted towards the hook up. She ran over to the line with a harness drooped over her back and tangled around one leg. She visited all of the dogs who were on the line - seemingly saying "Are you excited? I'm excited! Are you going? I'm going!"

She managed to team up with her buddy, Bullet, who was standing one spot behind the leaders. I eventually caught up to her and was able to adjust her harness. So, I kept her in the team along side Bullet. We had a great hour long training run.

Teddy make me smile!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Early Fall Training In The Mud

The first frosts of fall may have done a lot to make the dogs happy, perky and eager to run, but they have done little to firm up the trails around Two Rivers.

As you will see, though, the dogs certainly don't mind... A muddy dog is a happy dog!

Friday, September 4, 2009

"To Do" Series: Post 1


As I had mentioned, September at the kennel is a busy month in terms of "getting things done". Training runs are completed early in the morning, so the afternoons are free. We had a busy afternoon today.

Some of you know that we build cabins in the summer. We just sold a property yesterday, but we hadn't completed everything. There was still an outhouse that we had to move (the cabin we sold has a brand new well and toilet.) Outhouses are commonplace in Two Rivers. (Nearly half of the residences do not have running water.) But, nice outhouses are rare! Our outhouse is really nice.

So, in the typical Allen "let's just see how it goes" manner, we struggled and grunted through out the project. After finally getting the outhouse arranged on the ATV 4 Wheeler trailer we tiptoed it down the road. Allen led the "Outhouse procession" and I followed. I laughed for nearly 30 minutes as the privy weaved and bobbed, passing trucks and neighbors, until it arrived - in one piece - at the kennel.

I took pictures of the procession:

Just after the Outhouse is loaded.

The Outhouse makes a turn.

The Outhouse passes traffic.

Allen peers out from in front of the Outhouse
"Did I drop anything?"
(Check out the hole!)

Whew. We made it!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

They Were All Muddy....And Happy!

After the first training run of the season, Allen, Aliy and Happy smile for the camera.

Morning temperatures around 40 degrees and light drizzle were perfect to keep the dogs cool.