Thursday, December 30, 2010

Spotlight On... Rose

This series of posts spotlights particular dogs at SP Kennel.
We'd like you to get to know these dogs and love them for the individuals that they are.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Congratulations Nacho!

Congratulations to Nacho!

In Spring 2009, Jan joined us on our Mushing Adventure Trip through the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It was on this particular trip that Jan met the charismatic Nacho.

Nacho is the perfect SP Kennel dog - his spunk and enthusiasm, even when temperatures dip to -45 make him an instant favorite to all!

Jan decided to sponsor Nacho’s racing this season. Why not sponsor the actual dog on the SP Kennel Logo?

Thank you Jan for supporting Nacho’s racing career and being a part of the SP Kennel dog sponsorship program!

SP Kennel dog sponsorship is one of our most popular programs. Our dog sponsors are a big part of the SP K team. If you'd like more information about the program, check out
How to be a Dog Sponsor.

Nacho's Elvis impersonation!

Jan with her lead dogs on the Mushing Adventure Trip

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Congratulations Viper!

Congratulations to Viper!

Viper was the lucky dog chosen by Ann Shillington and Jeanne Seward-Walberg. In the past they sponsored the kennel darling, Petunia, but when she retired from SP Kennel this summer, they decided to choose one of the SP Kennel youngsters.

Both Ann and Jeanne have been out on the Iditarod trail in the past. They have seen the love, drive and determination of these dogs first hand. We hope that we will see them again soon and Viper will get some personal "TLC".

Last season, as a two-year-old, Viper ran in both the Copper Basin 300 and the Iditarod, so we have high hopes for this season. And it all looks promising - he just finished on The Red & Black Team in the Sheep Mountain 150 (Check out this Dog Log Post, if you haven't already.)

Thank you Ann and Jeanne for supporting Viper and the racers of SP Kennel!

SP Kennel dog sponsorship is one of our most popular programs. Our dog sponsors are a big part of the SP K team. If you'd like more information about the program, check out
How to be a Dog Sponsor.

Viper - What a Good Looking Guy!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sheep Mountain Overview

Overall, it was a successful weekend at Sheep Mountain, and we're looking forward to Copper Basin in just two weeks!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Chilly Chores at 45 Degrees Below Zero

The month of December has been "arctic" here in Interior Alaska. Temperatures have fluctuated between 20 and 45 below zero much of the time. We like to call it: chilly.

Yes .... we still go outside.
Yes .... we generally stay warm.
Yes .... we get acclimated to the cold.

But .... it's still cold!

In this video, if you didn't appreciate Ryne, the SP Kennel dog handler before, you will now!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Congratulations Moonpie!

Congratulations to Moonpie!

To Mona Fredrick, there’s not a better dog than our “sweet Southern boy,” Moonpie. While he might not have the best manners, his humorous, drawling howl is enough to win anyone over, especially a fellow Southerner like Mona. His charming personality combined with his go-get-‘em attitude makes him a contender in any team!

Thank you Mona for being apart of the SP Kennel team and sponsoring Moonpie!

SP Kennel dog sponsorship is one of our most popular programs. Our dog sponsors are a big part of the SP K team. If you'd like more information about the program, check out
How to be a Dog Sponsor.

Moonpie howling before the Iditarod start.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

SP Kennel's Natural Extremes Mushing Adventures

Treat yourself or a loved one to the ultimate Christmas or New Years Present. Join Aliy, Allen and the SP Kennel dogs for the trip of a lifetime. There are only two spots left for our “Mushing in the Shadow of Denali” Dog Mushing Trip, March 23 to March 29, 2011. Explore the Alaska Range by dog sled and experience the beauty of some of Alaska’s greatest peaks. For more information, go to or email us at or

Holiday Forecast

Not too bad.......

Sheep Mountain Musical

The video camera was rolling for some of the race miles during the Sheep Mountain 150.

The following footage was simply overwhelming when we reviewed it in "real time" speed. The awesome mountains, colored horizons and glorious scenery seemed to whiz by inconsequentially. So, after watching it over and over again, we finally decided to slow it down. This 3/4 speed seems to capture the moment a little bit better.

We are not saying, mind you, that we want a slower dog team.

"Celtic Dream" is by zero-project (jamendo edition).

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sportsmanship Award

The Red and Black Team, with Musher Bridgett Watkins, was awarded the Sheep Mountain Sportsmanship Award at the Finish Banquet of the Sheep Mountain 150.

The story... as told by Bridgett:

"I was having the best run of the race in the mountains with the full moon lighting up the trail and the landscape. About two hours into the run Cutter and Roy, my wheel dogs, kept looking back at the sled. Finally I looked back and was instantly startled. I saw a wolf chasing my team!

"But, as I looked closer, I saw the small husky shaped wolf was wearing a red harness. Obviously a sled dog had gotten lost from it's team. So, I stopped and said hello, but it was scared of my team - who was loud and barking to go. It wouldn't let me catch it.

"So, for the next hour, it ran right next to my heels and I talked to it and tried to reach down and pet it. I stopped over and over again, trying to catch it. Finally, after I talked to it for a long time, it walked up to me and I was able to pet it. She was scared and I would be too, if I lost my team.

"But then I didn't know what to do. If I put her in harness in my team, I thought that I'd be disqualified for having 13 dogs. She certainly didn't want to ride in my sled bag and I was sure that my dogs probably didn't want to carry her through the remaining mountains. I also thought about the musher who had lost her and how worried they must be right now.

"So, finally I decided to tie her to a spruce tree that was right next to the trail. She would be standing nearly in the trail and I was sure that every team would have to maneuver around her. I felt bad leaving her, but I decided that was the best thing to do.

"When I got into the checkpoint I immediately told the Race Marshall about her and where he could find her if no one brought her in with their team. As it turned out, the team and dog were reunited and they arrived at the Eureka Checkpoint only one hour after me. Thank goodness that it all worked out!"

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Macgellan Musings: Sheep Mountain 150

Just because I'm not in Alaska this winter doesn't mean I'm not paying attention to what's going on at SP Kennel. I am. Very close attention, in fact.

Surprisingly, having an "insider's" view from thousands of miles away is pretty interesting. I feel like I'm seeing things that I didn't notice so clearly when I was right in the middle of the fast and furious action. I'm also finding that not having the advantage of an "everyday involvement" context, I'm "filling in the blanks" with recollections from the past to make sense of it all.

Even with my in-depth, inside experience, I find it hard to put all the pieces together. I have a new appreciation for what it must be like to be a distant fan -- especially someone without first-hand experience -- and try to really understand what's going on in something like the Sheep Mountain 150 this past weekend.

So, I thought I'd take a few minutes to jot down some observations/interpretations -- something along the line of musings -- of my own about the race. For those of you who are long-time -- dare I say "hard core" -- SP Kennel fans, much of this may have been obvious to you. But, in the hope that I may be able to add some useful "color" to the story -- especially for those of you who are more recent fans -- here goes…

Logistics: So much emphasis is placed on the actual race, the times, the checkpoints, etc., that it's easy to lose sight of the monumental logistical challenge it is for SP Kennel to run three teams in the SM150. For starters, some simple math: 3 teams of 12 dogs equals 36 dogs. Now some not so simple math: How to you fit 36 dogs in 30 dog boxes -- the total number of boxes on both of the Kennel trucks combined -- when you have to factor in issues like which girls are in heat and have to be sequestered from the boys, which dogs don't travel so well and need their own space, which dogs like -- or don't particularly like -- other dogs, etc. It becomes pretty dynamic jigsaw puzzle!

Then, keep in mind that you've only got three people -- Aliy, Allen and Ryne -- to handle the dogs: To load, drop, feed, walk and totally take care of them. These humans also have to drive the trucks, not an easy job in the dark, arctic cold on icy, remote, windswept highways. Don't forget to keep your eyes sharply peeled for moose who often seem eager to jump in front of your speeding truck!

Gear: This is trickier than you might think. To be sure, Aliy and Allen have plenty of experience to be "old hands" at preparing and packing their gear/sleds. They've done it many, many times before for themselves. But what about having to prepare and pack the third sled for Bridgett who met them at the race?!? How would you like to have your daughter's life in your hands as you try to pack everything she could need to survive in some of the harshest conditions on earth? Can you imagine the trust Bridgett has in Allen and Aliy that she can rely on them to pack her gear? I don't want to over emphasize this, but I think it's something worth thinking about. Would you let a family member pack your suitcase for even a weekend trip to the beach where there's a store on every corner? I doubt I would!

Dogs: When I first saw the results of the race, I found myself repeating the same word over and over… "Wow, wow, wow…" I don't know if I can convey this fully, but I'll try: SP Kennel is a small sled dog kennel, having only a fraction the number of dogs of other kennels with which it competes. Instead of having something like a hundred dogs from which to pick twelve for the race, the 36 dogs on the three SP Kennel teams represent about 80% of ALL the racing dogs at the Kennel! The reason for my "Wows" was that 36 dogs started and 36 dogs finished! Not a single dog needed to be dropped from any of the teams. And, did you see what great, energetic shape they were in when they finished! The only word I have for this is "Astonishing!" It's a testament to the quality of the SP Kennel dogs, their ability, their training, their handling… their down-right awesomeness!

Now, here's something you may not have noticed: A number of the very best SP Kennel dogs weren't even in the race! That's right, some of the true "superstars" didn't race, including Butterscotch, Snickers, Skittles, Oddball, Homey, Stormy and Tatfish! Let me put it this way: Possibly the best SP Kennel team was "left in the dog yard"! Keep that in mind when you think about the 100% finishing rate of the 36 dogs who raced… and about the competitive places in which they finished!

Sportsmanship: How cool is it that Bridgett won the sportsmanship award! She is "the real deal" and her sportsmanship is just one of her many fine attributes. Bridgett is talented, tough and tenacious, and nobody -- NOBODY! -- is better with the dogs. Add in her cheerful personality and her upbeat, willing interaction with others despite the harshest conditions, and you'll understand why I hope she continues to bring her "game" to SP Kennel for years to come.

What the sportsmanship award doesn't cover, though, is that helping another musher in the race is only a very small part of what SP Kennel mushers are so well known for. No matter how focused they are in a race, or how worn down they are after caring for their dogs in a checkpoint, or how tired and hungry they are when it's time to go inside and grab a moment of urgent rest, Aliy, Allen and Bridgett never fail to take that extra minute to chat up a less experienced musher, to offer words of advice or encouragement, or to simply foster the mutual goodwill that exists in the tightly-knit sled dog community.

When I look at the race results, I don't see finishing positions. Frankly, as good as they are, to me they are irrelevant. Instead, I see an amazing story of depth of talent, skill in execution and sportsmanship in competition. I saw it every day when I was there. I see it even more clearly from a distance.

Congratulations to the entire SP Kennel Team! I couldn't be more impressed -- Macgellan

Sheep Mountain 150 R & B Team Finish

The Red and Black Team crossed the finish line at 3:25 PM in a total race time of 27 hours and 25 minutes. This was an 18th place finish out of 39 teams.

As you will see the SP Kennel dogs look FANTASTIC! It is so amazing that a group of twelve well bred, well trained and well cared for sled dogs can run 150 miles and then come across the finish line SCREAMING to run more. What great dogs!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Great Finish and a Safe Drive Home

All three SP Kennel Teams finished the Sheep Mountain 150 Sled Dog Race.

Black Team - 5th Place
Red Team - 13th Place
Red and Black Team - 18th Place and Sportsmanship Award

We are VERY happy with the 36 amazing dogs.

Ryne wins a Gold Star as Handler of the Race!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Eureka Lodge- Take #2

Everyone has arrived on their return trip through Eureka Lodge. Allen is currently in 5th place, Aliy is in 13th, and Bridgett is 19th.

Allen said his team is running great, Quito in particular. Since she is really driving down the trail, Allen is considering moving her up to lead with Rose.

Aliy's team looked fantastic as they ran into the checkpoint. She said she's very happy with the young leaders Scout and Beemer and that Moonpie has been pulling like a freight train!

When Bridgett arrived, she was all smiles and called her run a "magic carpet ride on a roller coaster." Along this section of trail, there is a very steep, very long uphill. When her team began to climb, all the two-year-olds in Bridgett's team showed their spunk and barked all the way up the hill!

Way to go SP Kennel Teams! Just one leg left in the race!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Eureka Lodge

Here are a few pictures from the start:

Aliy and the dogs getting ready at the start.

Bridgett and her leaders Dingle (left) and JJ (right)

Allen and Bridgett before Allen's start

Ranger and Rose

All three teams arrived at Eureka Lodge looking strong and healthy after their first 50-mile leg. Allen came in a little after 5:00 PM, Aliy around 5:30, and Bridgett just after 6:00 PM. The moon is so full that I hardly need a headlamp when walking around. Each team will rest for 5 hours plus their start differential, so Allen will be leaving around 11:10, Aliy 11:25, and Bridgett 11:45.

All the mushers seem to be in good spirits. The dogs are healthy, the trail is fast, and the hills are tall. When discussing the climbs, Aliy summed it up with one of my favorite quotes of the evening: "You know the race is called Sheep Mountain right? Perhaps it should be Sheep Mountain-s instead!"

I'll try my best to keep the Dog Log updated, but be sure to check out the Sheep Mountain 150 Facebook site for updates as well.

And they're off!

Allen, Aliy, and Bridgett just left the starting line of the Sheep Mountain 150! It looks like a competitve field of mushers this year with 41 mushers from all over Alaska and Canada. Around noon today, Allen began the race in the tenth starting position with Rose and Ranger leading the charge, and Aliy followed shortly after leaving 15th. Beemer and Scout (it was only Scout's second time in lead!) led for Aliy. Bridgett was last from the SP Kennel squad in 20th position. JJ and Dingle were her leaders. All the dogs looked great and fired up!

The weather is perfect- sunny and cool (temps varied this morning 0 to -10). I'm on my way to the first checkpoint in Eureka, which is 13 miles by car and 50 by dogteam. Once there, the teams will rest for 5 hours and then take off for the second leg of the race. I'll have more updates and pictures soon!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Sheep Mountain 150 Red & Black Team Roster

Bridgett will be starting in Position Number 22.

Sheep Mountain 150 Red Team Roster

Aliy will be starting in Position Number 16.

Sheep Mountain 150 Black Team Roster

Allen will be starting in Position Number 11.