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.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Prison Dog Drop

Sun. March 13

This is Mickey, Aliy's mom, reporting from Nome, Alaska. Doug and I arrived here last night after successfully delivering SP's 8 dropped dogs to our friend Margie's kennel outside of Anchorage. The dogs were so happy to get out of the dog truck, stretch out, have a big meal and lie out in the afternoon sun. The clear, sunny, cool weather persists.

We had another extraordinary Iditarod experience on Friday night! Doug was again asked to drive 'Big Red', the SP dog truck, to the airport to help collect dropped dogs being flown in from McGrath. We and 2 other trucks arrived at Northern Air Cargo at about 8:30 PM. The dogs had flown in large wooden boxes, each divided into 8 or 10 private compartments, in the hold of a large cargo plane. A huge forklift delivered the loaded boxes to the parking lot where trained Iditarod volunteers individually transferred the dogs to the waiting trucks. By about 10:00 PM we three vehicles were loaded down with 69 dogs and heading to the Hiland Mountain - Meadow Creek State Correctional Center, the local minimum security prison, outside of Anchorage.

This prison has long cooperated with the Iditarod to provide temporary care for dropped racing dogs. Since the dogs had arrived in Anchorage so late and still had to be reexamined by the vet staff the decision was made to do the exams at the prison and let the dogs spend the night. Owner representatives could collect the dogs the next day at the prison.

One of the work areas at the prison had been completely transformed into a dog care facility. It was aptly named 'Iditarod Dog Outpost'. When we arrived about 10 prisoners were on hand to unload the dogs, secure them on beds of straw under a shed roof, feed them, clean up after them and begin the process of identifying their needs. Each dog's electronic ID chip was read and compared with the report that came from the trail vets. While the vets began the arduous task of examining 69 dogs, the prisoners continued the cleaning routine, covered each animal with a fleece blanket and delivered lots of TLC.

It was a long and nippy night for all involved. We waited around until our 5 dogs were examined and released. It was close to 1:30 AM by the time we left. The prisoners had just left the area to go to bed, the vets were finishing off their paperwork, the volunteers were ready to truck back to Anchorage and the dogs were secure, well fed and warm. We at SP Kennel want to give a special thanks to the prisoners and prison staff who enthusiastically support the Iditarod dog care program. This is another example of the Iditarod's cooperative strategies designed for the well being of our canine athletes and the various communities involved in the race.

Iditarod Drop Dogs' Home Away from Home

Doug & Dingle at Prison


Mel Bowman said...

I bet the Iditarod makes for a nice change of routine for the inmates. Sounds like everyone wins here...how great!

Linda T said...

Mickey - thank you for painting a broader picture of the Iditarod - from the villages and behind the scenes.

Lisa B said...

Thanks for the great story Mickey! Glad to hear you've made it safely to Nome. It's awesome that you and Doug have been pitching in and helping out with dropped dog logistics. Just a couple more days until you can greet the racers! Go Aliy, Allen & Dogs!

Susan said...

What I like about this program is it gives incentive to the prisoners to be on their best behavior, teaches them a very useful skill, especially in Alaska, and allows the dogs the human touch, if only for a few hours. I know I would definitely ask to be on Iditarod detail!

Carole Treen said...

Thank you once again, Mickey. Love hearing your stories of this extraordinary experience in AK..
We send our best wishes to all the "Z" clan!

Carole and Bob

Favorite Aunt Patty said...

Thank you for this story. It's truely remarkable how many different people, places, etc. are involved in this race. Sounds like your truck is getting a work out!