|Wes and dog team on the Atigun River|
Wendy and I are recently back from a camping trip along the Atigun river in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Aliy and Allen were there a few weeks ago, having braved temperatures of 40 Below. Out trip was just the opposite. We struggled with the heat; with daytime temperatures getting up to 50 degrees. It was really nice for humans but very difficult for the dogs and sleds. In these temperatures, the trail turned into glare ice and gravel. Breaks were required every few hundred yards for the dogs to cool down. The dogs spent most of the time resting in the sun rather than running up and down trails. It was Wendy and my first time above the Artic Circle and was a "once in a lifetime" trip for us. A big Thank You
to Judy and Devon Currier who invited us along on their annual Arctic Caribou hunting trip, and making it possible to go! We are so glad that Allen and Aliy had enough confidence in the development of our dog and sled skills to let us take their dogs on this camping trip. It was an experience we'll never forget!
|Malibu the Watchdog|
One incident of note was the preparation of the canine accommodation. We strung out cables with necklines between two willow scrubs just behind our tent so that we could be close to our dogs and keep an eye on them. This was my first time doing this but it went well and pretty soon all the dogs were lying out on the snow snoozing in the sun. I had heard that you are supposed to dig small holes for the dogs so they can curl up out of the wind. I proceeded to grab a shovel and dig out nice comfortable holes for the dogs. My efforts were met with looks of disgust and disdain. Tony was so appalled by my handiwork that he pulled himself as far away as his neckline would allow and looked as if someone had just tried to take his temperature. Pretty much all of the dogs snubbed my holes and treated them like personal outhouses.
|Hank relaxing on his blanket|
It's fascinating to see the different personalities of all the dogs. We've gotten to know them quite well-- drama queen Olivia, shy Kipper, model Honda, huggable Mac, kissy Cutter, groaning Elsa (she literally groans when you rub her ears!), dancing Happy, and of course our personal favorite, Hank. In October, Aliy gave us the task of turning four year old Hank into a "PET" dog. He had a wrist injury from last season that never quite cleared up. Aliy decided it was best for him to retire from sled dog racing and not risk making it worse. Hank has come a long way in the 6 months we have had him. He is fully housebroken, and sleeps on his blanket beside the bed. He would love to sleep on the couch if he was allowed, and enjoys his rare visits to the foot of the bed when he gets invited up. Hank is a quiet dog, and very docile; getting along with all his kennel mates very well. He does love to run free outside, and has some difficulty coming back when he is called. He loves his treats though, and can usually be lured in by the promise of a treat and nap time on the people bed. We have successfully turned him into a house dog, and he is now looking for a "Forever" home with a gentle human who would like a calm canine companion that tends to hog the bed!
|Wendy enjoying the view of Brooks Mt. Range|
Looking back, it seems just a few weeks ago that we started our first edition of Wes and Wendy's Weather
. For those of you who may recall, Wendy and I arrived at SP Kennel from Washington DC last October not knowing the difference between a Tug Line and a Main Line. Our objectives for the year were to:
- learn how to survive an Alaskan winter
- learn how to run a dog team
- help a musher have a successful season
- see as much of Alaska as possible
- make acquaintances that we can call friends for the rest of our lives
I think everyone can agree that we hooked up with the right kennel to make this happen. It makes us so proud that this Kennel has had such a successful year and that the many hours we spent on sleds and in the dog yard helped make this happen.
|Arctic Oven Tents at Campsite on Atigun River|
So what is next for Wendy and Wes? Well, we are planning on spending the summer seeing as much of Alaska as we can in our little truck camper. During the summer, Wendy and I will be looking for jobs that we can start in the fall. We are hoping to head back overseas to resume our International Development work. We don't know where we will end up but some options are Haiti, Nepal, and Myanmar.
Wherever we end up, we will still take some of our vacations in Alaska and hope to be able to hook back up with SP Kennel and see our amazing human and canine friends again. Thanks to everyone who has followed our posts and next year we will join you in searching our Inbox for the latest SPKennelDogLog updates.
---Wes and Wendy