Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Updating Blog Address

We are currently updating our spkdoglog.com domain name information. This may take up to 72 hours. Sorry for any inconvenience. Both www.aliyzirkle.com and spkenneldoglog.blogspot.com will still bring you to the Dog Log. Thanks for your support!  

The End of the Month is Near!

Everything changes once August ends. Or at least that's the sentiment floating around SP Kennel. The leaves are starting to change. The water dishes were frozen ice yesterday morning. The Sandhill Cranes are leaving the Northland. All of this means summer is GONE!

It is actually getting dark at night now. The dog yard lights are handy if you want to spot an early morning red fox visiting the dog yard.

The dogs are excited to get back into harness. Of course, all of the dogs have had plenty of exercise this summer either running the trails in Two Rivers or playing in the SP Kennel play pens. But, there's nothing like getting back into harness. Aliy went through the pile of Howling Dog harnesses today and stretched out the gang lines. The ATV four wheelers are ready to roll and we already took a spin out on the route that we will train on Sunday. The first hook up of teams is not for another 4 days. But, why not be ready?!

Quito has put some weight on the summer and is a bit of a "wide load". She claims that the weight sheds easily once she gets back into a routine! It will probably be easy for her, just like all those celebrity Super Models who lose 15 pounds a week before their Movie Premier!

Tatfish and Biscuit are the oldest dogs in training this season. Their antics in the play pen yesterday make us think they were 2 year olds however. Barbara Swenson, visiting the kennel from Anchorage, even mentioned that the two brothers seemed to get a little "testy". Of course, Tatfish had dug a hole 4 feet deep and Biscuit managed to fall into it!

Willie and Boondocks are spinning in their spots. They body slam each other and play like sumo wrestlers, then lay down and nap right next to each other.

Boris has a new hobby of chasing a rock around his circle while pushing it with his nose, whereas Mac still just chases his tail!

Viper and Beemer are too cool to get worked up about much. They both hang out in the middle of the yard and enjoy the canine spectacle.

Lester has become somewhat of the "big man" on campus and likes to strut his stuff next to his newly moved neighbors: Fang, Outlaw and Nelson. Outlaw is his favorite, even though he towers above little blue-eyed Lester.

Scooter is happy as ever and seems to spend much of her time worrying about the puppies: 1, 2, 3 ,4 ,5 ,6 oh no... lost count. 1, 2, 3, 4! Darn it! 1, 2.... are their really 11???

Nacho and Chica are watching the kennel antics from their platform area. They have a multitude of bones and wood blocks and all the rest of the dogs wonder why. Of course, the they are spoiled with toys because we can build them a new dog house only every other year!

Mismo and Izzy are long legged and ready to run. Izzy thinks she's a retriever and carries sticks around in her mouth much of the day. Mismo thinks she's just kinda dumb.

The year old kids are now residing in their own little yard. The Golf Litter is loud and boisterous. Driver is by far the largest and has a voice like a soprano. Little Chipper is the boss and likes to keep everyone in line. The four youngest yearlings round out the yard. Lydia is in the far back, but you can't miss her despite the fact that she is still the smallest and lightest boned! With her overwhelming personality she is a diamond in the rough.

We are so excited for this coming season and the neatest thing is:
The dogs are even more excited that the mushers!
It will be a great season.

Some of you were asking for more puppy pictures. We are trying! It's nearly impossible to capture good pics of every pup. We hope to get puppy, as well as, portraits of all the dogs again this year. But, here is an attempt a litter shot.

Yes! There are only ten.

Pups from left to right: Daisy, Nomex (broadside), Tinder, Chena, Hotshot, Commando, Coal, Spark (in the back), Amber and Violot. Torch is sleeping in the dog house!

Monday, August 26, 2013


A healthy, happy 5 week old "Spark".

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Alaskan Fun!

Aliy and Allen enjoyed some true Alaskan fun with Denali Outdoor Center this week.

D.O.C. owners, Al and Joanna Cockman, invited the SP Kennel mushers on a whitewater raft adventure on the Nenana River in Denali Park. Rachel Cockman, a 10 year old budding river guide and future Iditarod class of 2021 musher, helped her dad guide the two-hour paddle raft trip. Mickey and Doug weren’t going to be left behind on such a fantastic adventure, so the Cockmans invited them along as well!

What a great adventure! When you find yourself in Denali Park look up Denali Outdoor Center and have a fantastic time!

These photographs were taken by Old Sourdough Studio. Not only do they capture the true adventure, but they have some spectacular dog mushing and wildlife photographs too.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Raining and Training

It has been raining much of the week in Interior Alaska. And it's raining again today. Lots of rain! These are the first significant rain events we have had since the second week in June! And the temperature was 40 degrees when we awoke yesterday, a far cry from from recent 80 and 90 degree marks.

Rainbow over a damp dog yard. The dogs love it.

We are pretty happy to see this cool, moist trend because:

1) The Alaska wildland fire season may finally be winding down. It's been way too intense this summer. Even after our return from evacuation on July 9, we frequently felt the effects of our smoldering Stuart Creek 2 fire. Last Sunday we could still see plumes of smoke from our lookout on Aliy's balcony. When the wind blew from the east a veil of smoke and acrid fire smell enveloped us. Ray, Derrick and the other firefighters in our neighborhood, have simply been gone all summer, fighting the 592 fires that burned more than 1,300,000 acres of Alaska. We depend on their firefighting skills but we miss them at home. We need a fire season 'ending event', like cooler temps and the 3 days of rain forecast for this week.

Temps and humidity this morning.

2) Sunday, September first is the TENTATIVE date for the first day of training for the 2013/2014 mushing season. But without this cool, wet weather it is simply too hot for our dogs to run! The ideal scenario for early season runs is cool mornings, in the 30 to 40 degree range, and lots of puddles for the dogs to splash in during breaks. The forecast for the night of August 31 is 38 degrees and light rain. That could do it! The mushers are ready. The dogs are ready. The ATV's and gang lines and harnesses are ready. We need a mushing season 'beginning event', like cooler temps and the three days of rain forecast for this week.

Allen and Tatfish are ready for this season's training. Are you?

See the editorial in yesterday's Fairbanks News Miner. Fall might really be coming to Interior Alaska, albeit it a few weeks late.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Fire Puppies at Four Weeks

At four weeks, the Fire Litter is living in a covered pen with a puppy wheel, plenty of space and a large dog house. Their puppy excursions have mainly been indoor exploration with toys and treats. A larger, fenced puppy pen is nearly complete and outdoor puppy walks will start soon.

Mama Olivia tends to them, but has backed away from the constant cleaning and nursing routine. She is often resting on the far side of the 28 inch barrier separating her from the eleven youngsters or in her “non puppy accessible” dog house. We sometimes find Olivia standing, head over the barrier, watching the puppy ruckus, yet staying physically clear of it. She still has plenty of milk, but is only nursing them in the evening. This has enabled us to set up a perfect routine for feeding: early morning when they wake, afternoon and early evening. Olivia is still getting 3 to 4 meals a day and is honestly, a little chunky!

Many of the pups still have their original facial markings that made them distinctive: Spark, Tinder, Daisy, Coal, Commando and Nomex are all unique looking. The blue-eyed “Olivia looking” pups: Violet, Chena, Hotshot, Torch and Amber are more challenging to differentiate. Torch is the lightest in coloration and Amber is the smallest, but ... good luck with Violet, Chena and Hotshot!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Well... not exactly, but sort of.

The question was: Can Aliy Keep up with her dogs?
The answer: Well... not exactly. But, if you use creative statistics, sort of.

The Anchorage Running Club's Big Wild Life Runs half marathon was the test this weekend. It was a great event in a great city. The turn out was fantastic and Aliy was one of thousands of participants in the event.

The 13.1 mile course was awesome. It started in the heart of downtown Anchorage and went out along the Coastal Trail. Then for miles, the Iditarod Route and the marathon route were exactly the same.

However, Aliy's pace was mildly slower than her Iditarod Team usually scoots down the trail. Aliy covered the same distance the dogs do in about twice the amount of time. Considering each SP Kennel dog has twice as many legs as Aliy, one might mathematically deduce that their paces were then actually the same. And if one tweaks the numbers a little more: there are twelve dogs running the Iditarod route and only one Aliy on the marathon route... So... perhaps that puts her ahead? (I'm sure Aliy will have a mathematical discussion with Quito and Beemer back at the kennel when she is asked to explain her performance.)

The same trail, just a different season.

Aliy's running partner for the event, Linda Steiner, has been training for her first ever marathon in Portland this October. This half marathon was a step in her training progression. Aliy decided that since she was in Anchorage for several days anyhow, why not to show up and cheer Linda on.

And, why not do that right by her side?

Good luck to Linda in October. Sorry Linda, but Aliy will be busy keeping up with the dogs in October!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Can Aliy keep up with her Dogs?

Aliy is in Anchorage this weekend. She is a participant in the Anchorage Running Club's Big Wild Life Runs half marathon. Friend, and Clarion Suites Director of Sales and Marketing, Linda Steiner, convinced Aliy that this summer she should try to "keep up with her dogs."

On Sunday morning, the half marathon starts two blocks away from the Iditarod Starting line in Downtown Anchorage. At Mile 4.5 Aliy will travel the exact same route as her dog team will during the Iditarod in seven months. Of course, she will get an entirely different perspective of the trail this time of year!

The Half Marathon Route and the Iditarod Route start two blocks apart but converge soon after.

Aliy's goal is to travel the trail during a different season and earn a little more respect from the SP Kennel canine crew at home. So, be ready to pass out the Ibuprofen on Sunday evening!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Three Week Old Puppies!

As you can imagine, it’s hard not to spend all day, every day, with the puppies.
Why are puppies so darn cute?

The pups are now living outside in a covered dog pen with a wooden floor. They have a big dog house with a ramp at their disposal. The daytime temperatures have been in the 70’s and even 80’s (warm for us) so, they spend the entire day outside the house. In the evening, I put them inside after they eat. The nighttime temperatures have been in the upper 40‘s or 50‘s.

At three weeks, they are learning to walk and play. They are still nursing, but their first “solid meal” of moist canned puppy food was big hit at 3 weeks old.

Olivia is doing very well and hasn’t lost any body weight. She enjoys her three to four meals a day. The puppy pen is set up so that she can step over a 10 inch barrier and join the eleven youngsters any time she chooses. Likewise, she can escape from them!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Major Internet Milestone for SPK Dog Log!

Today, the SPK Dog Log passed a major internet milestone: A Million Page Views!

Thanks to all our faithful fans and other visitors who have pushed us past this milestone!

We will continue working hard to keep the SPK Dog Log as educational and entertaining as we can for your next million page views... and beyond!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The "Denali Wilderness Express" Princess Train

This is the eighth summer that Aliy and Allen have been welcoming tourists to Alaska on Princess Cruises' express train from Whittier to Denali National Park. Our mushers catch the train at a flag stop near Hurricane Gulch two times each week during tourist season. Each train day they see about 600 folks. Over the course of the summer they reach about 10,000 visitors.

Their mission is to impart a bit of knowledge about this vast state and the hearty souls who live here. They answer questions about surviving during Interior Alaska's winters. "How cold does it really get?"

Aliy and Allen bring the Alaska state sport of dog mushing to life. They tell stories of their personal history, their Alaskan Husky athletes and their racing adventures. They chat one-on-one with visitors about dog breeding, training and nutrition. It's during these conversations that Aliy and Allen are true ambassadors for Alaska and dog mushing.

As always, they have fun.
Here they are in action!

L-R: Aliy speaks under the glass dome of the Princess train; Aliy and the Conductor.

Allen poses with his Mom, Donnie, at the Denali Railroad Depot.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Yukon Quest

The 2013 Yukon Quest Champion, SP's very own Allen Moore, was among the first today to sign up for the 2014 Yukon Quest. This 1000 mile International Sled Dog Race begins on Satruday, February first, in downtown Fairbanks, Alaska and ends 8 to 12 days later in Whitehorse, Yukon Territories, Canada.

In 2013 Allen won this race in 8 days, 19 hours and 48 minutes.

For a list of mushers who signed up on this first day of registration, visit the Yukon Quest website at www.yukonquest.com.

It's official! Allen hands in his registration form and entry fee.