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.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Story

Aliy, Allen and everyone at SP Kennel have so much to be thankful for! Enjoy Thanksgiving.

This story was been posted on the website years ago, but it seems appropriate to re-post today:

SP Kennel’s first sled dog was Skunk. He was given to Aliy many years ago by a trapper who lived on the western coast of Alaska. Skunk was a mature dog with years of trap line experience. All he had known was a relatively harsh world of eating carcasses from the trap line, lapping some fish oil and curling up in the snow.

In those days, Aliy was living in a small village north of the Arctic Circle. Skunk was delivered to her by bush plane the week before Thanksgiving. Since she had not yet built a dog sled, the two would walk the trails around the village getting to know each other and the area.

Skunk would habitually run ahead a ways then come back and check in with Aliy. He did this repeatedly – almost as a game. But then one day something (a rabbit, a moose, a caribou, an eagle, who knows?) grabbed his attention and he reverted back to his previous life. He scampered off into the wild.

Aliy called and called. He didn’t come back.

She walked back to the village and put dog food on her porch to entice him home. That night dogs barked throughout the village. Skunk was around but he never came home. A day went by and the elusive dog was still missing. Where could he have gone? The closest town was 75 miles by dog trail!

The next night, only two nights before Thanksgiving, the dogs in the village barked constantly. This usually meant that a bear or wolves were prowling the town. This year, it meant a sled dog! Skunk traveled from cabin to cabin…...a surprise holiday visitor.

The next morning, villagers knew that he had stopped at their homes when they couldn’t find their Thanksgiving turkeys. Many people in the Arctic use Mother Nature as an outdoor freezer. They keep their frozen foods on their front porches or in their arctic entries. Apparently, Skunk knew this too.

An "all-points bulletin" was put out on Skunk that day. He had ruined many a Turkey Day dinner. He was even spotted on a village road trotting off with a spiral ham in his mouth. The villagers were very upset. They chased him with a snowmobile, but no one could catch him. In that town, on the day before Thanksgiving, a loose dog was a dead dog.

Aliy borrowed some lynx traps from a trapper in town. She set them up around town and baited them with the half eaten turkey carcasses. That night and early into the morning, she made her hourly rounds to check the traps.

Then, at 3 AM on Thanksgiving Day she walked to the trap behind her house. In the glow of her headlamp Aliy saw two shinning eyes – SKUNK! She walked up to him and saw that his hind foot was in the trap. She looked sternly at him and said, "The town people want you dead, dog. You best not growl at me." Amazingly, he looked up at Aliy and wagged his tail!

Aliy removed Skunk’s foot from the trap, lead him home that night. The next morning neighbors showed up to report on Skunk’s antics. Even a family who lived several miles south of town came by to tell Aliy that he must have come to their cabin his first night out. All of the bait on their trap line was gone and so was the meat from their front porch.

For many years, Skunk held the record as Aliy’s most expensive dog, simply because of all the turkeys she had to pay for that Thanksgiving.

In the years to come, Skunk was a fantastic sled dog and an even better pet. He spent 8 years after that fateful Thanksgiving as Aliy’s dear friend and constant companion. He even traveled with Aliy to the ‘Lower 48’ on an extensive cross-country trip. He was a perfect driving buddy, riding ‘shotgun’ for 8000 miles in a little red Chevy pick-up.

"SP Kennel" is named for that special dog. It will always be "Skunk’s Place".


BJ said...

Love it and HAPPY THANKSGIVING SPK! First one I've missed in a few years:(

Jim S. said...

A good story is always worth repeating. Thanks and may you have a
great day and a little more snow.

Moose-Tipping said...

Great story! I'd always wondered how SP Kennel got its name. Happy Thanksgiving!


P.S.- It's snowing here in Eagle River-- hopefully some of that will come your way soon. We're back to training dogs on 4-wheelers tomorrow AM (after several days off due to ice).

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing that wonderful story about Skunk and Aliy. Now I know the rest of the story about Skunk's Place! Dave in NC

LindaVistaLLC said...

The underlying philosophy of the kennel is evident in this story - dogs first .. even one that costs you several turkeys, ham, and a whole lot of trap bait.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this Story of Skunk, its great to write about these types of animals and experiences. Makes me want to pull my dog blog out of mothballs!
Stephanie Little Wolf

weedabble said...

I have read this story before, and every time I read it , it brings a tear to my ear.
What it also tells me is that you are doing EXACTLY THE RIGHT JOB Aliy!!
I think your Dog Log should be required reading for every member of PETA....they would soon learn what "us fans" already know about your mushers....the Iditarod is a GOOD THING, and you all love and care for your athletes just like the rest of us care for our "pet dogs"
Keep up the great work and thanks for sharing!