Monday, November 28, 2011

And Mystery Dog Number 3?

Sponsored by the Cameron and Frederick Family

Congratulations to Lynne D for being the first correct guess! Send us an email at with your t-shirt size, color preference (Red or Black), and address, and you'll be sporting SPK gear in no time!

A bit about Moonpie:
Moonpie has in fact finished the Iditarod; however, he was also born right here at SP Kennel. Moonpie desserts are originally from Chattanooga, Tennessee. And for fans who have not watched the famous Manny/Moonpie duet---this video is for you.

Check back in on Monday, December 12th for the next Mystery Dog!

Guess that SPK Dog Week 3!

Since each dog at the kennel has their own personality and history, we thought it'd be fun to see how well the SPK followers know the athletes. Every other Monday, we'll post "Guess that SPK Dog" at 1:00 PM EST, and the first correct answer posted in the website comment box wins a SP Kennel t-shirt! Limited one shirt per person.

Game #3 Dog Clues

1. Originally from Chattanooga, Tennessee

2. Iditarod Finisher

3. The Soprano half of "Doggie Duets"

Who am I?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Arctic Moments

The end of November finds SP Kennel dogs and mushers busy indoors and out.
This time of year the daylight (or lack there of) is a huge factor in Two Rivers. The sun rises today at 10:03 AM and sets at 3:13 PM. Therefore, we will have total possible daylight of 5 hours and 36 minutes. I can promise you .... we will use every minute of it!

Running a Dog Team at Sunrise

The beauty of the arctic is no way minimized by this lack of daylight. The early morning glow lights up the entire southern horizon. At sunrise, the horizon burns with the waking of the sun. The afternoon has a constant glow. Then after several hours, the sun dips down below that same horizon from where it came.

The main kennel house/office/coffee drinking spot sits on a small hill overlooking the dog yard. The huge five foot windows face due south and offer an entire view of the dog yard. So, every morning after the dogs are fed we sit up there drinking coffee overlooking the SP Kennel crew.

Stormy, Aliy and Tig drink coffee and look at the dog yard

Who is snuggled back into their straw? Skittles!
Who is chasing a raven? Tony!
Who is chewing on Scout's tail? Boondocks!
Who is running around at 30 below ready to run? Tatfish!

Mornings at SP Kennel are delightful.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ryne Olson Trains for her Rookie Iditarod

This season, Allen has decided to tackle the Copper Basin 300 and Yukon Quest with complete focus. So, after six consecutive years, the Black Team, will not be racing the Iditarod. This decision leaves a spot open for a Red and Black Iditarod Team. Pretty exciting!!

Check out the Dog Log's updated right hand side bar that lists the SP Kennel's Red and Black Team mushers: Bridgett Watkins and Ryne Olson.

Bridgett has a full "non-mushing" winter ahead of her. So, the decision is that Ryne will be racing the Red and Black Team to Nome in 2012.

Since it has been many years since SP Kennel has fielded a Rookie Iditarod Team we thought that it would be interesting for everyone to follow Ryne's Rookie preparation. The first big event for her is the Mandatory Iditarod Rookie Meeting in Anchorage December 3rd and 4th. After that, of course, it is a lot of preparation, scheduling and logistics.

But.... don't forget about the mushing!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Wes and Wendy's Weather Three

Hi, Wes here; I will be writing edition 3 of Wes and Wendy's Weather. For a week it was all snow, snow, snow. Everything not yet undercover is lost until spring. Innocently bumping a tree results in a deluge of snow down your neck. This last week was cold, cold, cold! Regional weather records have been broken and it feels like it's going to be a long winter. It has been as low as -45, and last week's temperature was rarely above -30.

So let me tell you about me. I am having a mid-life crisis early at the age of 34. I quit my Washington DC desk job of four years, sold everything in the house, bought a truck and camper, and drove with Wendy to Alaska. I have been planning my mid-life crisis for several years now and have carefully scheduled it from September 2011 until September 2012. My goals are simple:
· spend as much time outdoors as possible
· try something extreme that most people would never consider
· learn outdoor survival skills
· lose 30lbs and get the six pack I never had
· become one of Australia's most experienced mushers (not hard to do)

Anyone who has spent time working at a kennel knows that you do not just become a Musher; you start with the tedious dog yard chores and take on more advanced activities as you progress. The second step on my way to becoming an accomplished musher was becoming an accomplished trail groomer. Less environmentally conscious mushers groom their trails using a snowmobile dragging a large tire that they stole off some poor farmer's tractor. However, SP Kennel has gone green. My role as a trail groomer involves barreling down the road behind a team of dogs hanging on for dear life to an old sled dragging on its side. This results in nicely packed trails around Two Rivers. An added bonus is that the snow ends up inside my parka, boots, and gloves, ensuring a cool refreshing trip. Full credit must also go to my sled which I have nicknamed Snow Shovel. This form of trail maintenance provides the added bonus of being able to study all the feces from my team and others at close range and obtain invaluable insight into their current state of health.

When I am not grooming trails eco-style, I am making snow angels. This is done by waiting until I approach a tight bend in the trail which the dogs feel the inexplicable need to speed up for, and then at the tightest partof the turn, launching myself into the closest snow bank. Two Rivers mushers are becoming familiar with my handiwork which marks various points in the trails. I am considering carrying a can of spray paint to autograph my handiwork.

Wendy has taken a much less engaging approach to mushing; she has not felt the need to leave her sled once yet without using the snow hook. Her sled hasn't even left its upright position! That said, her dogs seem to have more respect for her than mine have for me.

Since starting this post, my skills have progressed and I have been able to manage longer runs, in colder weather, in more complicated trail conditions. The cold weather snap has emphasized the need for dressing appropriately. This, itself, has been a learning experience. I now know why so many mushers wear bibs. I have gone on dog runs with polyfill pants that feel the need to make their way down to my knees whenever I start kicking or running up a hill. All too frequently, I find myself running with one hand on the sled and the other hand holding my pants up. If it does not already exist, I would like to take credit for coining the term Frost Crack, which combines inappropriate clothing with extreme weather conditions.

Our forecast for the next ten days is temperatures between 0 and -30 and we have snow. These are perfect training conditions and we are expecting to put on a lot of miles. We are even hoping for a camping trip or two. Our training focus is beginning to shift from base miles to our first key racing appearance at the Sheep Mountain 150 in December.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Outlaws Go for a Walk

The Outlaw Litter - Bonnie, Clyde and Outlaw - turn seven weeks old this week. They are still living with their mom, ChaCha, throughout this mid-November cold snap. ChaCha hasn't weaned them, so they are happy to snuggle together on the cool nights.

Alaskan Huskys are truly an amazing breed.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cold Snap in Interior Alaska

There was no dog training today. The mercury did rise above the 44 below shown above, but not by much.

Well.... one thing is for sure: It's Winter!

The cold temperature did give all of us a chance to catch up on office work, clean the basement and work on broken sleds. So, all in all, there is an upside to the chill in the air.

Monday, November 14, 2011

And Mystery Dog Number Two?

Sponsored by Tom and Cindy Eckhoff

Congratulations to Melissa K for being the first correct guess! Send us an email at with your t-shirt size, color preference (Red or Black), and address, and you'll be sporting SPK gear in no time!

Check back in on Monday, November 28th for the next Mystery Dog!

Guess that SPK Dog Week 2!

Another Monday, another Guess that SPK Dog!

(Picture is not of the mystery dog)

Since each dog at the kennel has their own personality and history, we thought it'd be fun to see how well the SPK followers know the athletes. Every other Monday, we'll post "Guess that SPK Dog" at 1:00 PM EST, and the first correct answer posted in the website comment box wins a SP Kennel t-shirt! Limited one shirt per person.

Game #2 Dog Clues

1. I was a superstar yearling in the 2009 Iditarod.

2. I hate to lope.

3. My best friend is my brother Willie.

Who am I?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Aliy on Alaska Public Radio

Aliy was asked to speak on AK public radio this week during a segment about Alaskan villages. She had a short spot about the Two Rivers community and of course, talked about dogs!

Here is the link:

Monday, November 7, 2011

Wes and Wendy's Weather Two

Wow, it’s COLD! NOW we know what everyone is talking about when they say it’s cold in Alaska. We’ve experienced our first -20 degrees (F) weather, though the sun was shining brightly and it looked deceptively warm outside. Wes put on his cold weather gear and with Ryne, braved the elements and took the dogs on their 25 mile runs. He survived, and is looking forward to more cold weather dog runs.
We have had just enough snow to make us think about getting the sleds out of storage for a tune-up. Neither of us knows how to use a sled and we are eager to learn how they work. We are not too concerned; Santa makes it look easy. He has never gotten tangled or had his team leave him behind; he does not even need a snow hook.
In the meantime, we are keeping busy in the dog yard. Another round of bedding straw has gone out for the dogs, 3 tons of salmon arrived, the Latino litter had their first romp in the snow behind the ATV 4-wheeler, and the Outlaw litter has ventured out from their dog house to explore their world. We’ve enjoyed watching the Outlaw and Latino litters “talking” through the fence at each other. Izzy is quite bossy, and has decided to inform all the puppies just how things should be in their world. Nelson has decided to ignore her lectures and entertain himself on the exercise wheel. The Outlaw puppies are curious and confused by the whole thing. Especially when they were carried out to the field to play in the snow in a stock pot. All in all, it’s an adventure growing up, and they seem to be doing it very well.
Wes and I are learning how to cook salmon for the dogs. They were a good deal--left over research fish from the season. Once we learned how to cut off their extra head and third eye, the rest was easy. Our recipe includes delicately seasoning it with kibble. The dogs LOVE their new dish! The next dish we’ll learn is cubed beef snacks—can’t wait!
To top off our week, we enjoyed a great neighborhood potluck and bonfire. We were finally able to put names and faces to the parkas and 4-wheelers we see every day on training runs. It’ll be awhile before we recognize a musher by their dog teams though. We’re still working to learn the SP Kennel dogs. Who knew that Boondocks and Kipper looked so much alike; or that Scruggs, Honda, and Olivia are identical…aren’t they? Uh well, we’ll keep working on it, and hope to get it right soon!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Training Dogs along the Chena River

We took a video during one of the last training runs along the Chena River before "freeze up".

As you will here in the background, the ATV 4 wheeler is still purring along functioning as our "make believe" dog sled. The dogs don't seem to care what they are pulling down the trail. The mushers, however, start daydreaming of that elusive November blizzard as the miles pass under the machine's tires.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Spring 2012 Mushing Trips - Returning to ANWR

SP Kennel is proud to announce its 2012 Natural Extremes Adventures. We are returning to the North Slope of Alaska and the highly debated ANWR - Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. We will be running two trips: March 25 - April 1, 2012 and March 31 - April 7, 2012.

The Refuge, always a hot topic in Washington D.C., is a "No Snow Mobile Area", including breaking trail in support of mushing trips. This means NO noise except the pattering of dog feet. This also means that this trip will be a true adventure. Therefore, each of these trips are limited to 3 adventurers.

Few places in the world are as untouched as the areas we will visit during these mushing trips! Wildlife such as moose, caribou, sheep, wolves and ptarmigan are the residents of this area.

For more information, please visit or email us at

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

And Mystery Dog Number One?

Sponsored by Lynn Budzak

Congratulations to JQ for being the first correct guess! Send us an email at with your t-shirt size, color preference (Red or Black), and address, and you'll be sporting SPK gear in no time!

Well done everyone for the correct guesses! I was amazed when I checked the post at 8:30 AM Alaska time and already there were FOUR correct answers. Obviously, I need to make the clues slightly more challenging! Also, to make it fair for SPK fans across all time zones, I'll post the next Mystery Dog at 1:00 PM EST (9:00 AM Alaska time). Check back in on Monday, November 14th for the next Mystery Dog!