Friday, November 30, 2012

Catching up with: Tug

Tug is a pretty understated, sweet dog. She runs with her tail up, so you can always pick her out in the team and as you can see in the video she has a permanent smile on her lips!

She has recently moved house and is now between Beemer, Biscuit and Tatfish - she certainly has a fun filled life!

Tug has run the Iditarod twice and has three 300 mile races under her belt.

Aliy says "she's a dynamite team dog" and she's looking forward to Tug being on the team again this year.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Chill in the Air!

The entire state of Alaska is currently in a "deep freeze". Two Rivers and SP Kennel is sitting directly in the center of this freezer unit.

Our concerns are the same as they always are:

1. Keep the dogs healthy.

Right now, the biggest concern is keeping the dogs "fat enough". They are sleeping in below -30 temperatures at night and training in below -20 temperatures during the day. This is a bigger issue than you might think.

Take for instance, Mac (our "big man on campus"), he needs many calories to keep his furnace burning through out the night and many more calories to have the energy to train 25 to 40 miles. Even Mac, can only consume so much in one day.

Logically we must increase their food intake. All dogs get two full meals every day - a thick warm breakfast at 8 AM and a healthy dinner approximately 10 - 12 hours later. These meals are predominantly high fat and high protein dry Eagle Pack MVP kibble with additional fat supplements. In between meals, thin dogs need more calories. For snacks we feed either more kibble or an "ice cream scoop" of pure poultry fat. (It looks like orange sherbet ... but I wouldn't try it.)

We hope they eat everything that we present, but some dogs don't dive into the massive amount of food rapidly. They pick at their meal slowly. In these temperatures, it does not take long for the food to freeze to the sides of the dish and become inedible.

2. Keep the dogs fitness on schedule.

This priority takes a "back seat". The dogs need to be at an optimum level of fitness for all of the racing season, but a skinny athlete is no good. So, fitness and training is secondary.

The dogs also need adequate protection when they are training in these extreme temperatures. When a team leaves SP Kennel and the temperature is -20, there are several "cold spots" on the training route no matter what direction you take. This means that the team will be heading into temperatures possibly as low at -30. Keep in mind, the dogs could be traveling up to 10 mph, so after calculating the additional wind chill, the team could be trotting into a sub -50 temperature. (That's darn cold in any language!)

The dogs wear jackets, male protection ruffs and some females wear additional chest protectors. Dog booties are also coming out of storage. Dressing a dog team can be a full day affair!

Yes ... we live in the heart of Dog Mushing country, but by golly it sure gets cold up here!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

SP Kennel Invitational - Junior Division

The Junior Division of the SP Kennel was also hotly contested! All the juniors did exceptionally well and got up to some phenomenal speeds with only a few tumbles. Everyone had fun! ChaCha, Honda, Rose, Stormy and Teddy all took their job extremely seriously and there were lots of tails wagging and tongues panting.

Everyone received participation certificates, medals and a bootie full of goodies. Well done to Merica, Noah, Sammy, Jacob, Isabella and Timber (and helpers). All-in-all it was a really fun afternoon.

Here's a quick video, check out those speeds!!

Monday, November 26, 2012

SP Kennel Invitational - Videos

Here are the videos from Saturday's SP Kennel In-house Invitational Race for you to enjoy. In the interests of "load-ability" we've made three separate videos. The first is Aliy explaining the route and rules, Race Marshall Ray with some ground rules and the drafting of teams. You don't have the entire footage, as you can see there were plenty of banter and the draft took quite some time!

In this second video you will see the teams hooking up and leaving the yard. Check out the different strategies with harnesses and dogs and you can make you own mind up who had the best form.

Finally, the finish. Not all of the finishes were captured on video unfortunately as there was an awful lot going on at once but you will get the idea! This is followed, as with any race, by the prizegiving and finish banquet. The purse wasn't large this year - simply a certificate and bragging rights!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

SP Kennel Invitational

The inaugural SP Kennel In-house Invitational Race has been run. After all the strategising, team selection bombshells, "smack talking", time penalties and ten miles of hard and fast trail we had a very close run race.

Because the time elapsed included hooking up, running ten miles then snacking and un-harnessing it was figured early on that dogs that were housed closer to the hooking up area, dogs that know their way to their homes, dogs that didn't need to race with a jacket or dogs that are easier to harness would be an advantage. Unfortunately everyone had the same idea so there were some team selection surprises! Dogs that are excellent sled dogs but live far away were not at the top of the list.

Two teams were a "double" with a driver and rider so had eight dogs, everyone else had a team of six with a pack of Eagle Pack dog food as their passenger. Teams were made up of one mature dog, four (or six) mid-age and one yearling.

The teams were as follows:

Hooking up was an exercise in efficiency with all teams getting out well before the next team needed to start. Some got one dog at a time, others collected two dogs at once, some harnessed at their houses, others at the line...

The anticipation of those of us back at the yard was palpable. Who was going to round the corner first? Then with time differences and penalties what would the final standings be?

Coming in first, just barely, was the Black Team! Meghan and Wendy displayed excellent and well organised team work and took second place with Bridgett in a well deserved third. Ryne and Chrissy took a close fourth position and, after choosing more long distance dogs rather than "sprint specialists", Aliy finished in fifth position. Bob rounded out the placings in a respectable sixth.

Just over 12 minutes separated first and sixth places so every second really did count!

There will be weeks (well, maybe hours... or let's be honest: a few minutes) of post race analysis but one thing's for sure: what happens on the trail stays on the trail!

We'll put together a video soon!

SP Kennel Invitational

The scene is set and the tension is mounting for the SP Kennel Invitational. Some time penalties have already been issued for lack of yard chores and the "smack" talk has started.

The teams are about to be chosen and sleds packed... just as soon as everyone has a coffee!

Ladies and gentlemen, start your sleds!

We'll keep you up to date as the day progresses.

Friday, November 23, 2012

SP Kennel Invitational Race - Junior Division

SATURDAY, November 25th - 1 PM

In addition to the 10-mile division, the SP Kennel Invitational Race will include a Junior Division. Each musher will have to navigate their team of two dogs around a pre-made race track. In the event of a crash, mushers are encouraged to hop back on the sled as quickly as possible with outside assistance if needed. Age limit - 7 years

Junior Mushers: 

1. Sammy 
2. Noah Jane 
3. Merica Gale 
4. Jacob 
(entries are still being accepted)

Each musher will have the opportunity to select their team from a group of experienced dogs including: 

Chacha, Tony, Teddy, Stormy, Bullet, Malibu, Rose, Beemer, Ranger and Honda. 
Dogs may run in multiple teams. Rosters will be posted after teams are picked. 
May the fastest team win (although everyone is a winner with prizes for all). 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

SP Kennel Invitational "Race"

SATURDAY, November 25th

The Two Rivers Tune Up Sled Dog Race has been cancelled due to lack of adequate snow. The race course is hard packed and the Two Rivers Club Trail Boss does not think he can adequately and safely mark the route. (In other words... the darn markers won't stick in the limited amount of snow on the ground.)

But, you say... the SP Kennel dogs (and mushers) are ready to race! So, we have decided to have an Invitational SP Kennel "Race" of our own.
SP Kennel dogs and SP Kennel mushers.

1. Coffee at 10 AM.
2. Teams will be selected after coffee.
3. Each team will be comprised of:
- one "mature dog" (over 7 years)
- four "middle-aged dogs" (2 to 6 years)
- one "youngster" (1 year old.)
In order of entry, each musher will select their first dog, then each musher will choose their second dog, then each musher will choose their third dog and so on ... until each team has 6 dogs.
4. Each musher will be given a map of the course. Approximately 10 miles.
5. Each team must carry one 40 pound sack of Eagle Pack MVP Dog Food and 2 snow hooks.
6. Race Starts at 11 AM (hopefully.)
7. Ray Crowe is Race Marshall. (So, absolutely no griping or complaining.)
8. Moira Shepherd is Race Timer. (She's from a different hemisphere, so if the times are a little off... deal with it!)
9. If it's cold on race day, then dress appropriately!

1. Aliy Zirkle
2. Allen Moore
3. Meghan Luke
4. Ryne Olson
5. Bridgett Watkins
6. Bob Hauer

1. Race Timing begins at 11 AM when the first musher begins harnessing dogs. Each musher is responsible for harnessing their own team. The Race Marshall can help the teams while hooking up and leaving the yard.
2. The next musher starts harnessing their team 5 minutes after the first musher, and so on, until the last musher harnesses and leaves.
3. All mushers race the 10 mile course.
4. When the teams return to the yard, the musher must give their team a wet snack and return the dogs to their houses. (The correct houses.)
5. Race Timing ends when the musher puts the last dog back at his/her house.
6. A 5-minute time penalty will be applied to all mushers who do not help with race day pre-coffee morning chores.

Team Rosters will be posted the day of the race!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Here at SP Kennel we are pretty thankful for a lot of things... we are thankful for every single one of the wonderful dogs we have in our kennel, for the beautiful corner of the world we live in, for our generous sponsors and, of course, for our fantastic supporters! Thank you for following along the trail with us, we appreciate you all!

We thought you might enjoy this short video taken in one of the most beautiful spots around here. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I Like It Just Like That!

It's always fun to watch the dogs when they get fresh straw for their houses. Many of them spend time getting it just the way they want with "this bit over here" and "some more over there in the corner".

Some of them even take the trouble to create more of an indoor/outdoor flow so they can enjoy a straw bed outside when the sun is around or on the warmer evenings. Sissy and Boondocks are two that enjoy the flexibility of the indoor/outdoor flow.

We recently gave Sissy a "new" house with a larger opening as we believe she might have been slightly claustrophobic in her old one. It's not the best house on the block - it's actually the worst house we own but it was the only one she would get in and she seems much happier now.

Looks pretty cozy though huh?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Fire Break Training Part 2

Here's part two in the series of videos taken earlier this month. In this video Aliy talks a little about her leaders on the day and also how this trail got its name.

The team is: Lead - Quito and Boondocks, Swing - Olivia and IV, Team - Willie and Scout, Nacho and Pud, Nutmeg (by herself) and in Wheel are Bonita and Boris.

(It gets a little wobbly in parts, apologies for that!)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Winter Protection

With the temperatures dropping the dogs need some extra winter protection while they are out. Here Aliy explains what the boys will be sporting this winter...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Catching up with: Schmoe

"Everyone knows a Joe Schmoe!"

"He's pretty excited to run, he's pretty excited to race... he's pretty excited for everything" says Aliy. Schmoe is an experienced youngster, he ran the Yukon Quest in 2012 with Allen, and he has desire to race.

Schmoe is working on becoming a leader, he's not quite there yet but we're hoping he follows in his father Ranger's footsteps and becomes one of the best dogs.

Joe Schmoe - look for him on the team.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It's That Time of Year Again

Vaccinations are a vital part of dog care at SP Kennel and last week it was time for the annual kennel cough and "5 way" vaccinations (for distempter, parvo virus, etc).

The dogs were very tolerant, even with the somewhat uncomfortable bordetella up the nose! Meghan and Moira prepared the vaccines and Aliy and Allen administered them. A great team effort!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Fire Break Training Run

This is the first of a few videos from the training run last week up the "fire break" trail. In this video Aliy tells us about the importance to the team of training in the hills at this time of year.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Catching up with: Beemer

We thought it about time we caught you up with what each of our team is up to this season so we've started a new regular segment: The Skunk's Place Bunch.

First up is Beemer! Many of you already know Beemer - he's a Rock Star!

Aliy says not only did he have "a ridiculously good year last year, we couldn’t have asked for anything better from him" but also, as you will see in the video, that "he is really good at kissing!"

Do you have a favourite "Beemer" moment?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Stunning Day in Two Rivers, Alaska

It was a stunningly beautiful day today in Two Rivers so Moira went out on the back of the 4-wheelers with Aliy and Meghan for a training run to capture some video to share with you. It will take a few days to edit the video so in the meantime here are a few photos; just as a teaser.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Golf Puppies Stretching Their Legs

Meghan and Moira took Driver, Sandy and Iron, along with Tig the Labrador, for a run and spent some time playing in a nearby field the other day. Here's a fun video from that day. Watch out for the "mauling" at the end - I am happy to say the camera survived intact!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Video Flashback: Yukon Quest 2012 - The Story

Many of you may have already seen this excellent video, but just in case... It includes some really great shots of the SP Kennel team! Tell us in the comments how much you're looking forward to this year's Yukon Quest!

"The Yukon Quest finishes and its the most exciting for many years with only seconds between first place, Hugh Neff and Second place Allen Moore. After 1000 miles there was only 15 seconds separating them." -- Music Sarah MacDougall, Sometimes You Lose, Sometimes You Win.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Outhouse Project

When Meghan and Moira arrived at SP Kennel in mid October there were already a few "to do's" on their list. One of these was to build themselves an Outhouse. You see, in many parts of Alaska, including Two Rivers, people do not have indoor plumbing - this includes Meghan and Moira's Taj Mahal log cabin.

So, Allen, Meghan and Moira were able to cross off "Build an Outhouse" from their list yesterday! Here are photos documenting the ordeal. Remember... it's never easy!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Fall Howler is Available!

The Fall edition of the SP Kennel Howler is ready for viewing.

Our feature stories are fall training, a "new look" for both the DogLog and the kennel and a rundown of who has retired or moved on since last season. Read all about it!

Click on the image to left to view the Howler in a new browser window!