Sunday, June 29, 2014

Iditarod 2015 Sign Up Day and Picnic

Iditarod will start next year on March 7th in Downtown Anchorage. Allen and Aliy have both signed up for the 2015 race. The first day to sign up was yesterday at Race Headquarters in Wasilla.

Aliy was able to attend the event while Allen worked their regularly scheduled Princess Cruise presentation in Denali National Park. (Don't worry… Allen was able to send his paperwork with Aliy in order to sign up for the race as well!)

Sixty mushers signed up for the 2015 race yesterday. Thirty-six competitors were at the picnic in person and another twenty-four mailed in their entries. Fifteen of the mushers are rookies. More entries will come in over the next five months until the race entry deadline at the close of business on Friday, December 1st.

It was an exciting day at Race Headquarters for mushers, fans and volunteers.

It was a gorgeous sunshine-filled day for the picnic which was catered by long-time Iditarod sponsors -- the Golden Corral Buffet and Grill -- This popular Anchorage eatery is a family owned business and a fabulous place to grab a quick and nutritious bite to eat anytime of the day.

Aliy was there to thank the many volunteers that make the Iditarod possible. Mushers are not always 'approachable' during the race, so she felt that it was important to really take some time out and thank the people who make it all happen!

Terry -- a long-time volunteer who works tirelessly on the Iditarod Trail in and around the Rohn Checkpoint -- and Aliy share trail stories; Doreen, Golden Corral owner and her granddaughter share a 'pink t-shirt moment' with Aliy.

Galena 'Comms' Director told Aliy "You were even smiling in Galena!"; Aliy thanks Jim for all his Iditarod service. He helped design the dropped dog transport kennels.

There were also many race fans in attendance. Folks came to Alaska for the event to meet mushers and enjoy the festivities. Race Headquarters played historic Iditarod race videos throughout the day and the gift shop was busy. Jeff Schultz, official Iditarod photographer, had his new photo book -- Chasing Dogs -- available for purchase.

Aliy gave out SP Kennel Dog Trading Cards to fans of all ages and signed autographs.

On a personal note, Aliy got to chat with long-time SP Kennel friend, Margie, who has opened her kennel in Knik to the SP Kennel dogs during the race for many years. Her generosity is overwhelming to us! And, it's always a GREAT day when Aliy gets to meet a new canine friend!

Margie and Aliy shared future cookie recipes; Aliy meets a "new friend".

Friday, June 27, 2014

More Videos from North Slope "Spring Break"

Here are two more videos from the Atigan River in mid April when the SP Kennel Crew went north to take a little "down time" after a successful racing season.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Spring Break Fun!

We thought that all of you dog mushing fans needed an actual ‘dog mushing fix’. So here is a video taken during the middle of April while the SP Kennel crew were up on the North Slope of Alaska during their Spring Break!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Brand New Houses

So… who got the five brand new dog houses anyhow?
Viper, Clyde, Chipper, Chemo and Driver!

Clyde checks out all the houses as we transferred them through the yard.

Chipper's legs are a little short so she posed like this for 5 minutes assessing the her "digs"; Viper said "This doesn't SMELL like my house. I can fix that!"

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Summer Solstice

This is a photo that was taken from a satellite at midnight during Summer Solstice. The blue dot is Healy, Alaska which is 130 miles south of the kennel. Yes, we are truly in the Land of the Midnight Sun!

(Photo by James Davey)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

More Photos from the Zoo

Aliy meets the adult Wolf Pack (J.Gomes photo).

Allen meets the adult Wolf Pack (B.Swenson photo).

Barbara Swenson, Clarion Suites Director of Hotels and SP Kennel friend,
chats with the Wolves (J.Gomes photo).

Stephanie, the Alaska Zoo Education Director, answers questions
while 'Nikolai' yawns. (B.Swenson photo).

Aliy signs autographs and hands out SP Kennel mementos to fans (J.Gomes photo).

SP Kennel 'Dog Fans' look through the Dog Photos (J.Gomes photo).

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Tuesday Night at the Alaska Zoo

Aliy was the featured speaker at Family Night at the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage. No SP Kennel dogs were able to attend but most of the attendees as well as Aliy and Allen got their "canine fix" by visiting with the 'Funny River' Wolf pups.

The wolf pups are now 5 weeks old. They were rescued by firefighters from the blaze that engulfed many acres on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. The 5 pups (3 boys and 2 girls) were brought directly to the zoo for care. A Fish & Game Biologist estimated the pups to be 2 1/2 weeks old at rescue and he believed that their mother had been gone for over 2 days. As well, a porcupine had entered the wolf den (most likely to hide from the fire) and had "quilled" a few of the pups. But, the entire litter looks heathy and happy now! They had just eaten a mixture of meat slop and milk formula and came out to a small Viewing Pen so that Zoo visitors could see them. Their favorite toy (played with only under supervision) is a fabric Orca stuffed with recently shed wolf hair.

By SP Kennel estimation, the wolf pups are about twice the size of the kennel's Fire Pups last summer at the same age. This makes sense since the adult wolves at the Alaska Zoo are about twice the size of Olivia and Nacho!

Aliy and Allen were also allowed to get 'behind the scenes' to visit the adult wolf pack as well. Stephanie, the Education Director at the Zoo, raised these wolves from young puppies nearly 8 years ago. The interaction between Stephanie and "her pack" was phenomenal. Every wolf in the pack greeted her differently -- even the Omega male, Ohpir, who through 'pack regulations' wasn't allowed to physically greet her -- sent his respect from afar. The Alpha male, Denali, had the closest bond with her which was evident as she groomed him with her finger nails through the 10 foot perimeter fence.

Nikolai, the Beta male wolf, and Stephanie have an amazing relationship. Note her hand inside the pen resting on his shoulder.

The canine / human bond is truly amazing whether it is a pack of wolves or a pack of sled dogs. The bond is different, yet amazingly intense.

If you find yourself in Anchorage this summer, visit the Alaska Zoo any day of the week. You can see both the adult wolves and the puppies.

John Gomes, the Alaska Zoo photographer, has many excellent photos of the wolves and updates the 'Funny River' wolf pups photo journal quite often. Check them out.

Monday, June 16, 2014

YQ: Sponsor a Bootie

During our spring sort-out we came across some of the booties from the "Sponsor a Bootie" fundraiser held during the Yukon Quest. All the "Bootie Funds" went directly toward the Quest organization. Each race team was asked to use these booties for the start in Fairbanks. We were allotted six booties with "Good Luck" slogans and well-wishes. One bootie said "Make us proud, Luke and Athena!" (Canine fans from Maryland.) Another bootie said "Good luck from Jade, Parker and Pearl! (English Setters from Michigan.) The booties all survived and found their way back to the kennel in Allen's return bag from Two Rivers checkpoint.

The booties were worn by Nacho, Chemo and Puppet.

We've sent the booties back to the sponsors as a memento and a thank you for supporting the Yukon Quest.

Sunday, June 15, 2014


The dads here at SP Kennel wish all the dads out there a wonderful Father's Day!

Biscuit: father of the Latinos and the Golf litter

Nacho: Dad to Junior, Lydia, Dutch, Kodiak, the Fire litter, Cayenne & Champ

Rangers kids are the Ss: Sissy, Scooter, Schmoe and Spoog

Allen: Poppa to grandkids Timber and Jacob (and Khloe)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Summertime Dogs

People always ask us … "What do you dogs do during the summertime?" Well, quite simply, they are "normal dogs" during the summer months. It is a bit too warm in interior Alaska to hook anyone up in harness so we go with out.
That means our dogs act like… dogs.

Chemo and Chica romp through the grass"; the dogs try to navigate a beaver dam

Yesterday I took seven dogs for a walk and today I hope to take a few more. They enjoy this as much as I do. Plus we get to see the trails in a whole different light!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Aliy and the Alaska Zoo

The Alaska Zoo (in Anchorage) has provided homes for orphaned, injured and captive-born animals for over four decades. It is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting conservation of Arctic, sub-Arctic and like climate species through education, research and community enrichment. The zoo offers programs and events for Alaskans and visitors.
Aliy was asked to be part of this summer's Family Night at the Zoo. Aliy will share stories from the trail that include many of her interactions with the wildlife of Alaska. If you find yourself in Anchorage next week, swing by the Zoo -- stop and visit 'Alf' the moose, the orphaned 'Funny River' wolf pups or 'Julie' and 'Tony' the lynx couple. And if you happen to find yourself at the Zoo on Tuesday, June 17th swing by the Coffee Shop's lawn and stage at 7PM and hear Aliy's 'Tales from the Trail'.

Find more information about the Zoo Events at

Friday, June 6, 2014

Construction at the Kennel

No matter how many new dog houses we build each summer, there always seems to be a need for more! As I look around the yard, I can't help but notice the large hole in the roof's of Chemo's quarters or the ripped up front stoop on Viper's mansion or the expanding door frame that Nacho now has.

Dog houses need to refurnished or replaced and summer is when that can happen. So, after a trip to the lumber store in Fairbanks, a half day cutting boards and a whole day piecing them back together, we will again have some new houses for the dogs.

Starting to put the pieces together.
They begin to take form.
Everything done but the kitchen and paint!

And the dogs really do appreciate their houses - you just have to look at it from their perspective. When Waylon lifts his leg and tinkles on each and every side of his domicile … that means he LOVES it! When Quito throws dirt inside her front door she's just simply redecorating for the summer season. When Mac tears the food dish out of the roof perhaps he just was asking for seconds!?

One thing is for certain … dogs will always be dogs and we will keep building houses for them.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Spicy's Big Adventure

It's been a big couple of weeks for Spicy! For those that didn't guess already, Moira took her home with her to New Zealand when she left late last month. After flying close to 7,500 miles and spending some time in quarantine, Moira picked her up yesterday and brought her to her new home.

Spicy has been a fantastic SP dog, running the Iditarod six times as well as many other mid distance races. She now has the 'honor' of being SP K's most expensive dog and has a new Kiwi nickname: "Pricey Spicy". (Moira says that she'll be just plain old Spicy once she pays her Mastercard down.)

We miss Moira and we miss Spicy, but at least we know that they are together!
SP Kennel NZ!

L-R: A final run with her niblings Cayenne and Champ; with Aliy and Allen

Trying hard not to take it personally she is regarded as "oversize baggage"; with her new BFF Lexie

Officially a Kiwi with a visit to the beach (in Mokau for those wondering)