Saturday, June 29, 2013

Iditarod Sign Ups and Volunteer Picnic Today

Aliy signed up for her 14th running of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and Allen wasn't two steps behind her, signing up for his 7th race. That will mean once again SP Kennel will have 32 fantastic canine athletes in the "Last Great Race". The double sign up decision was made after three major kennel sponsors agreed to back the musher duo for another season. A BIG thanks to Horizon Lines of Alaska, Eagle Pack Natural Pet Food and Clarion Suites Downtown.

Today's Iditarod Volunteer Appreciation Picnic and 2014 Sign-ups was a blast, with mushers and volunteers mingling on a perfect afternoon at the Iditarod Trail Committee Headquarters in Wasilla. Danny Seybert of Penn Airways delivered fresh Sockeye Salmon for the Iditarod BBQ grill and the folks at Golden Corral laid out a feast fit for a champions and aspiring champions.

Aliy signs up for Iditarod 2014. Mark your calendars for the start on March 1, 2014.

Allen hands in registration forms for Iditarod 2014.

A total of fifty-two mushers signed up today. So the countdown begins. The race starts in only 244 days and 20 hours.

Check out the 2014 Musher List on

Thursday, June 27, 2013

More Alaska Family Tidbits

The Crowe Family - Kaz, Ray and Sam - live in a log cabin on the edge of a black spruce forest a little way across the Chena River valley from the kennel. The neighborhood is very independent with most families subsisting on hunted meat and fish, gardened vegetables, bee hive honey and neighborhood chicken eggs. This is the time of year to get the veggies going and growing. The permafrost in the ground around their cabin doesn't allow for "normal" gardening practices so, Kaz and Sam work their magic in a tightly packed greenhouse and several raised beds.

Kaz has been writing a Blog - Check it out HERE

Monday, June 24, 2013

Full Moon Chorus

I looked out the window at midnight and saw a glorious full moon. It sat just above the horizon in all of its immense glory. I thought "Wouldn't it be grand to have a good ole Full Moon Chorus tonight?" So, as you'll hear, it took very little convincing to have the entire yard burst into a howl. I LOVE these dogs!

SPIN #3 (SP Interesting News)

Still way too hot for Interior Alaska. Highs of 85 to 90 this week and little chance of rain.

My plan was to write a short piece in July about the SP Kennel community's dedication to the prevention and control of wildland fires during the summer. Sudden, fast moving wildfires are a fact of life in Alaska where most of us live in the woods. During very hot, dry weather (like last week's sunny, 88 degrees and relative humidity of 17%) these woods become tinder boxes. Lightening or human error can cause an inferno. And that's what happened one week ago.

Aliy's post on June 18 explained the fire that came way too close to home last Monday. Even though the fire is contained, it still has the potential to flare up. An Incident Command Post (ICP) is now set up in the parking lot of Two Rivers Lodge. Firefighting crews with extensive ground equipment continue to check the entire 120 acre burn for hot spots. They will monitor the burn area until weather conditions change.

Our SP family was intimately involved in fire mitigation from the beginning. Ray coordinated Initial Attack Resources until the fire was contained. Ryne and Kaz were among the first volunteers with dog trucks to help evacuate dogs. Abbie West, neighbor and local musher, directed traffic. Derrick, who has been a smoke jumper for 20 years, was Jumper in Charge of the team that jumped into the neighboring field. Our neighbor Jeff, along with Kaz and Ryne, helped ferry the smoke jumpers to the active site. Meghan, who is a dispatcher for the Alaska Fire Service this summer, was on the west side of the fire, providing moral support for the evacuees. Doug and I evacuated Megan's dogs and stood sentinel at SP in case we had to move dogs while Aliy and Allen hurried home.

I want to personally thank the Alaska Fire Service and Division of Forestry for an incredibly professional job of protecting our lives and property. And special kudos to our family, friends and neighbors here in Two Rivers who volunteered unselfishly. So there, Superman, Batman and Ironman! Here in Two Rivers we are surrounded by the real SUPER HEROES.

Click here for an interesting article on the aircraft used in fighting our fire.

This past week Aliy, Allen, Mickey, Doug and Ranger travelled to Anchorage to touch base with our SP Kennel major sponsors and supporters. On Wednesday Aliy and Allen (and Ranger) presented an Iditarod overview to 'Visit Anchorage', a group of Alaska tourism business leaders. On Thursday we joined our Clarion Suites friends at a fund raising event for the fantastic Alaska Zoo. On Friday we visited the Horizon Lines headquarters, where Ranger was star of the show. Then Friday afternoon Doug and Allen played in a golf tournament to support Covenant House of Anchorage. Busy few days!!

L-R: Doug, Aliy, Barbara from Clarion Suites and Quality Inn, and Allen at the Zoo, Ranger calls the meeting to order at Horizon Lines' offices.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Wildfire Near the Kennel

There was a wildfire that started about 4 miles from the kennel yesterday evening. The plume of smoke was visible from the edge of the dog yard. Allen and Aliy were in Denali National Park speaking to tourists when both Kaz and Ryne called to give them the news. They came straight home.

By this time, the Two Rivers neighborhood and the Alaska Wildland firefighting professionals really pulled together and tamed a very hazardous situation.

Ray was actually driving home from work (he is a firefighter) and saw the signs of a fire. Soon the state and federal agencies were throwing all resources at it. Meghan, who is currently employed by Alaska Fire Service, was given a half day off - only to sit at a wildfire roadblock for hours while trying to return home to Charlet and Tina Turner.

Hot shots, smokejumpers, various fire crews, as well as helicopters and airplanes worked the fire into the night. By, 11 PM the road block was lifted and many of the flames were contained.

The incredible temperatures and dry forests in Interior Alaska this summer might lead to a crazy wildland fire season. We hope this one was as close to us as they will get!! Regardless, we have dog boxes and trucks ready in case humans or dogs need to be moved in a hurry.

The fire came across Chena Hot Spring Road at 16 mile. The kennel turn off is 21 mile.

Alaska Fire Service Smokejumpers landed in the field adjacent to the kennel.

Derek was the first Smokejumper to land.

Ray and Derek talk "Fire talk".

Summer Scenery Photos

Some beautiful shots from Interior Alaska in June.

Monday, June 17, 2013

SPIN #2 (SP Interesting News)

By Kennel Mom (aka Mickey)

Summer conditions are here! National Weather Service calls for temperatures in the 80's and no rain for the next 5 days. Saturday it was close to 90 degrees. SP dogs tuck in the shade of their houses during the heat of the day and play at night, which sometimes makes it hard for Aliy and Allen to sleep. Of course, the sun sets for just over 2 hours these days so there really isn't much night at all.

                                 Dingle is 'cool' in the shadow of his house.

Our SP dogs once again take part in the 'Canine Warrior' study, spearheaded by Dr. Mike Davis, from Oklahoma State University. Tests last summer analyzed the effects of electrolytes on canine hydration. (No definitive results have been announced yet.) This summer's focus is the role of proteins in maintaining hydration levels. Results will ultimately be used by our military to improve the performance of bomb sniffing dogs in the Middle East.

Last week sixteen dogs and 3 humans began walking specified distances on trails around the kennel. Over the course of 7 weeks they will gradually increase these timed walks from 3.5 hours three times a week, to 8 hours five times a week. Blood tests at the middle and the end of the walking protocol provide data.

Aliy asked Ryne to be the operational leader for this 2013 testing. Ryne has marked all the trails, set up rest camps, prepped the dogs and the 'doggie hotel', readied the special dog diets, trained the human walkers and devised the record keeping system. She also factored in walking speeds, group dynamics and personality traits to select the test dogs and divide them into walking groups of 4 to 6. Chemo, Waylon, Viper, Honda, Rambler, Nelson, Lester, Tug, Dingle, Beemer, Spicy, Spoog, Scooter, Willie, Outlaw and Boris get to roam the trails. What fun for them and their humans! P.S. Each dog is equipped with a GPS collar to keep track of their mileage and location.

Expect more reports on this project as the testing continues.

Above L-R: Outlaw enjoys the shade and cool water in the Doggie Hotel; Beemer models his GPS collar for Ryne.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Winter Isn't That Far Away!

The snow has gone, the season is over but here's some video from early in the year to remind you that winter isn't that far away... This is on the "switchbacks" trail in the hills near the kennel in Two Rivers.

The team is Beemer, Quito, Schmoe, Chemo, Kipper, Lester, Scout, Willie, Spoog, Mac, Biscuit and Tatfish.

Monday, June 10, 2013

SPIN #1 (SP Interesting News)

by Kennel Mom (aka Mickey)

This is the first in a series of summer posts. The topics are all related to SP Kennel in some way and are mostly my impressions of our little corner of Interior Alaska during these warmer months. Hope you enjoy!!

Late spring here is inconsistent at best! Mickey and Doug (Aliy's parents) arrived from Florida last Sunday when the Fairbanks area was touting sun and 80 degrees. Monday through Thursday the high was 50 degrees and it poured rain. I wore heavy socks and a hooded jacket under rain gear.

Today the National Weather Service forecast  for the Middle Tanana Valley (FAI and vicinity) is..... Partly cloudy, scattered rain showers in the afternoon. Highs in the lower 70's.

To all you Interior Alaska visitors: Be prepared for dramatic weather fluctuations.

Doug and I live in our little 'cabin in the woods' in Two Rivers AK. We have a huge extended family nearby. Aliy, Allen and the SP canine crew are just down the street. Our daughter, Kaz, her husband, Ray, and their son, Sammy, are around the corner.

Allen's daughters, Jennifer and Bridgett, and their families are here. Jennifer, Kevin and their son, Jacob, live in Fairbanks. Bridgett, Scotty and their son, Timber, live just west of town.

Meghan is still here in two Rivers. Ryne is here too.

We just keep accumulating family! How great is that?

Above left: Sammy, our mini-musher, enjoys the results of the week's rain. Above right: A Granny Greeting

SP Kennel canine matriarch, Chacha, and human matriarch, Mickey were elated to see each other. The two Grannys plan to enjoy fun and family together at SP Kennel this summer.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Eagle Pack Dog Food

We feed Eagle Pack Dog Food here at SP Kennel. Eagle Pack has been a top choice for our top dogs for over 15 years.

The Eagle Pack company prides themselves on their employee's extensive knowledge of pet nutrition. Their staff veterinarian, Dr. Al Townsend, has visited Alaska several times this year to keep the local pet food stores and their employees apprised of any changes to the Eagle Pack recipes or formulas. Eagle Pack is always trying to make the best dog food even better! We are excited that Dr. Townsend has one more Alaskan seminar scheduled this summer in Fairbanks.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

16 Visitors

As anyone can imagine, we get quite a few visitors here at SP Kennel. One day ago, Dr. Davis and his research team left after a week long project to establish the baselines for the exercise physiology study this summer. Tomorrow, Mickey and Doug are returning to Two Rivers for the "warm months". Of course, there will be many more folks coming and going during this summer.

We rarely have canine visitors, but...

Sixteen very friendly and happy dogs owned by Carlson Malemute from Galena are now staying with us. The airplane that they were evacuated on yesterday went to Fairbanks instead of the village of Tanana. The dogs all seem to think... "Hey, dry ground is dry ground, no matter where it is!" I'm sure they just hope, as we all do, that their musher is safe and sound.