Friday, October 12, 2012
First things first, however, I got some quality time with the dogs, including this photo op with Dingle!
Within moments of my arrival, I was covered in mud and dog hair -- pretty much "as usual" around here -- and just as happy as I can be!
So, what am I doing here?
You're looking at the the "new" DogLog, and I hope it's obvious that our first priority has been to show "more dogs, more of the time." We've also added some features that give you more information about the dogs, more ways to participate in the Kennel, and a layout that we think makes it easier to get around the site.
What you can't see is that we've also streamlined some of the site management and posting processes which will help everyone post more items faster. What you also can't see are all the revised databases for dog training stats, keeping track of sponsors and an assortment of new collateral material. There's a whole lot more to running a kennel than just running dogs, and it's hard -- but very important -- to keep it all up to date in the chaos of a sled dog racing season. Making it simpler for the crew is key!
That's nothing compared to the dead of winter, but it's a slap in the face coming up from 70 degree Seattle.
There's also a lot that has changed. The first thing I noticed are all the new faces of dogs I don't know!
During my two consecutive winters here from '08-'10, I'd gotten to the point I could identify every dog on sight, coming or going, in the dim daylight or the black of night. I can still recognize much of the team, but there are many young, rising superstars whom I can't tell apart. The hardest by far are Biscuit's yearlings. Seriously, give me a break!
Another big change at SP Kennel are the new buildings. When I was here, we did everything in the cramped basement of the house, with much tripping over sleds, gear, clothing and each other. Outside was a pole barn where you could dig out something you might need, and a very small feed shed that wasn't much more than a place to keep kibble locked away from scavengers.
The old pole barn and feed shed are gone, replaced by a large workshop building. Big enough to hold the four-wheelers, sleds, gear, etc., it also houses the workout facilities that Aliy and Allen use to keep in peak physical shape. On top of all that, it has facilities for dog examinations, treatment, rehabilitation and even housing!
The other new building was built specifically for the major research project this summer, and consists of a central 18-dog "condo" area with individual runs outside. It will be used for various purposes going forward, including to give dogs a chance to get inside from time to time during the coldest days of winter.
There's quite bit more that's going on around here as the season starts getting into full swing, including two new members of the Kennel crew are arriving this week. I'm sure they will be a huge help to the team and you can look forward to getting the know them.
Despite the very strong lure of SP Kennel, I won't be staying for the winter. It just doesn't fit into my life right now. I will do as much as I can over the next ten days to help the SP Kennel Team rev up. Like you, I'm looking forward to another fantastic season of sled dog racing... Stay tuned!