Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Howl-oween!

We had a little fun during Portrait Day. Happy Halloween!

L-R: Barista, Bean, Creamer, Sanka, Perky, Decaf

Friday, October 30, 2015

Scout Wins Fan Club Draw #2

We are so happy that every one of our dogs now has their own fan club with at least one member! Thank you all so much.

Congratulations to Ann and Tom Shillington who have won this week's draw. They are not only fans of Scout but also his long time sponsors, and have been part of the SP Kennel family of supporters for many years. Thanks Ann and Tom.

Scout is Aliy's best buddy. He really is such a phenomenal dog. He is both professional and charismatic, and is walking in his Mother’s foot steps as one of our best lead dogs ever. His wisdom and confidence will lead many of our teams down the trail this season. Good boy Scout!

As it is Halloween tomorrow the winners' goodie pack includes a mounted and signed Halloween photograph (that we will share with you all tomorrow!) along with a few other fun prizes.

The next fan club draw is on November 13th. If you haven't already won this season or if you are a new member your name will be in the next draw.

Click the button below for instructions on how to join:

Click this button below to take you directly to the Dog Fan Page.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

SP Kennel Crew

Who is the Crew at SP Kennel this season?

The Crew here is always an awesome dedicated bunch of folks. Many have become our very dear friends. Usually when I first talk to someone about helping at SP Kennel, I say: "We are happy people and have happy dogs here. If you don't think you will fit in that mold, we are probably not for you."

Over the last few years, we have had awesome people helping us -- honestly, more than helping -- they are SP Kennel!

The full-time SP CREW for 2015-2016 Season:

Still here:

Aliy and Allen

We are older, not much wiser, and still dedicated to SP Kennel.

This coming season will be Allen's sixth Yukon Quest and ninth Iditarod. He loves mid distance races as well. Allen also holds the kennel together: buildings, vehicles, sleds, Aliy, you name it.

This Iditarod will be my 19th 1,000 mile race. I can honestly say that my speciality is: D - O - G - S. (It's possibly an addiction.) I am 100% dedicated to these awesome athletes. I spend most of my time thinking about how to better train them and make their lives more complete.


She is the primary Sponsorship Coordinator and Puppy Lover.

She holds the kennel management together. Thank goodness!

She is a computer guru and can have a cup of tea, chat on the phone and type 157 words a minute without looking at the key board. I usually sit in awe and watch. (I type with 4 fingers.)

Moira lives part time in New Zealand and part time at "Moira's Mansion" at SP Kennel.

Wes & Wendy

When their jobs don't have them camped out in Washington DC, Nepal, Burma, Afghanistan or the Sudan, you will find them at their home just down the road from SP Kennel in Two Rivers. Thirteen year old SP Kennel retiree, Tony, lives with them. Wendy is currently teaching the Coffee Litter to pee, poo and play. She is three for three!

Wes and Wendy love the dogs (and put up with Aliy and Allen well enough).

They could run the show at SP Kennel and come to think of it -- they have!!

New to the Kennel:


Chris is new to sled dog racing, but not new to sled dogs. He has been involved with tour operation kennels for several years. He found himself in Alaska for the first time this summer and thought he'd try a winter.

Chris is enthusiastic and ready to run dogs all the time. (Good thing because he will!)

He and "Green Dog" live in the Handler Cabin at SP Kennel.


Spencer and his three dogs moved into Fairbanks to attend University of Alaska Fairbanks. Personally, we hope he finds his way into the new Veterinary Program! (Hint. Hint.) There are a few pooches out here who would appreciate Dr. Egbert.

Meghan now works for our competition, Wild And Free. She has decided to be heavily involved in sled dog racing this season. When you see her name on the Musher Sign Up lists, she will not be racing for us.

We are VERY excited about the season and what's in store for the SP Kennel Crew. Thank you SP Kennel Crew (past, present and future) for your time, your effort and your love of our dogs. You guys make us who we are!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Friday, October 23, 2015

Kennel Portrait Day

Jeanne did it again! She took fantastic portraits of ALL the SP Kennel dogs in just two days. Amazing! Of course she did this all while smooching with the dogs. (Extra kisses to Mac and Rambler… I saw you!)
The work has begun to edit the photos and put them on the website for all to see. We are working hard, I promise. We tried something a little different this year and it will truly be worth the wait.

As you can tell the SP Kennel dogs really hate 'Portrait Day'- L - R: Violet gets some luvin' from Jeanne; Wendy and Wes convince Coal to 'SMILE'

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Trip to Sweden

Aliy and Allen traveled to Sweden earlier this month to exchange knowledge and passion for mushing internationally. The entire journey was a fantastic experience. The sled dog enthusiasm in Scandinavia might even surpass Alaska's. The Kiruna Slädhundklubb (Kiruna Sled Dog Club) put together a fantastic seminar with several hundred participants. The speakers were Mats Pettersson, Torsten Kohnert, Dr Dominique Grandjean, Egil Ellis and Helen Lundberg - plus Aliy and Allen.

They flew into Kiruna, Sweden which is 150 miles north of the Arctic Circle. The town is a very popular winter tourist destination for people from all over the world. There is a spectacular Ice Hotel right in town and numerous dog sledding tour operations. Nearly every dog musher in the area has at least a small amount of tourism on their calendar.

Mats Pettersson and his wife, Lotta, were perfect hosts to the Alaskans for several days. Their home and dog kennel are in Kiruna. They run a very busy and successful tour operation as well as a long distance racing outfit. Mats has competitively raced the Iditarod for the last 2 years and will be bringing a team over for the race again this coming year. It is a tremendous ordeal to organize the logistics of traveling from Sweden. SP Kennel's 350 mile drive from Two Rivers to the Iditarod's Anchorage start seems trivial.

Allen, Aliy and their Swedish hosts Lotta and Mats Pettersson; At the Pettersson's kennel it's a family affair: Mom is harnessing dogs, Dad gets the team ready, 1 year old Frja sits in the baby stroller at the head of the team and 4 year old Zeb is playing with some of his puppies!

Mats drove Aliy and Allen on a whirlwind tour of Sweden and northeastern Norway. They saw local Kiruna kennels as well as visited Sven Engholm's operation in Karasjok. They also saw the kennel of Trine Lyrek in Alta and had time to chat over lunch with Norwegian musher Roger Dahl. Mats then brought them to the home of his good friend and Sami native, Taisto Tanurus. While at his home they enjoyed a home-cooked Sami meat sandwich - fat drippings and all! Taisto's favorite working dog is named "Nachto", so Aliy took plenty of pictures of him!

Sven Engholm has a magnificent lodge in Norway; Mats and Aliy enjoy Taisto's lunch.

Ulf Blomquist and Anette Johansson welcomed them to their home for a final Swedish meal and plenty of sled dog company. Ulf drove Aliy and Aliy to Hege Ingebrigtse's world class sprint mushing kennel. It sits on a steep hillside overlooking a fjord.

Hege's dog yard overlooks a Norwegian fjord; Allen visits with the kennel mascot.

The entire trip to Sweden was FANTASTIC. Aliy and Allen learned lots, met great people and were thoroughly rejuvenated by the dog mushing passion of Scandanavia. They did spend a day and a half (without chaperones) in Stockholm. Allen said that he found the language a little 'challenging'… especially while looking for a lunch spot on the street corner.

The Alaskans pose in front of a church built in 1652.

Allen looks for lunch! I don't think we are in Arkansas anymore!

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Coffee Litter's First Meal

Puppies are so much fun! Here is the Coffee Litter navigating their first bowl of puppy chow a few days ago:

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Happy Alaska Day!

It's Alaska Day and we wouldn't want to be anywhere else! Living in Alaska enables us to live our dreams so today, as with every day, we celebrate this great land!

It is the anniversary of the formal transfer of the Territory of Alaska from Russia to the United States which occurred on Friday, October 18, 1867.

In Alaska where:

Dog Kisses Matter…

Campfires delight the senses…

A frozen mustache isn't necessarily bad…

The route might be challenging…

But, the finish line is always bright and cheerful!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Quito has a Surprise!

Quito needs no introduction.

Quito is awarded the 2013 Yukon Quest Golden Harness.

But… for anyone new to SP Kennel or the Dog Log here is a quick refresher: Quito is AWESOME. She is a 2 time Golden Harness winner, Yukon Quest Champion lead dog (twice), Iditarod 2nd Place lead dog (three times), numerous times Copper Basin 300 Champion and she is also a really, really cool dog. Quito turned 9 years old this summer and Aliy and Allen had to make a decision: bred the 'Best Sled Dog in the World' or train her up as a mature dog and give her one more chance to win it all again at 9 1/2 years old.

Well, the answer didn't come easily because her breeding cycle wasn't due until August. That would mean that she would have pups in October - missing the entire fist half of the training season and setting her back as far as racing in 2016. Finally, the decision came down to health and age. The older a female becomes, the harder it is for her to whelp and raise a healthy litter of puppies and remain healthy herself in the long run. So, they decided that it would be a crime to NOT have Quito puppies this year.

After that, the hardest thing was finding a suitable mate. Who do you bred to Quito? Allen and Aliy wanted to keep the smaller, 'happy-go-lucky', dedicated attitude in this breeding. There are many, many studs out there to choose from… who would be perfect?

They found: Kosak. He lives at Joar Ulsom's kennel in Willow, Alaska. Both Aliy and Allen have raced against Joar (and Kosak) since 2012. Both musher and dog have been very successful in the Yukon Quest and the Iditarod (Yukon Quest 6th place 2012; Iditarod 7th place 2013, 4th place 2014, 6th place 2015.) Joar raised Kosak and his sister, Sivo, and they have been an important part of his team since he began racing in Alaska. What Aliy and Allen liked the most, was how dedicated these dogs were to their musher. Joar describes Kosak as "honest and passionate, a very enthusiastic dog who is ever loyal to me." Aliy remembers seeing Sivo, a tiny little girl, running in single lead through some of the most challenges trail sections on Iditarod. Both dogs are incredibly tough. It seemed to Aliy and Allen that this family of dogs had a resume that meshed with Quito's.

Kosak's glamour shot; the best 'body shot' but notice his tail still wagging.

But what about their pedigree? Pedigree's aren't everything but it sure would be nice to have some 'icing on the cake'. They got it with Kosak. As it turns out, Kosak's father is ChaCha's brother, Lindy. Not only would the puppies have Quito's genetics, but they would have ChaCha's genetics as well. Quito and Kosak only bred once in mid August. But once was all that was needed!

One week ago Quito whelped seven healthy babies (4 females and 3 males.) Here is a first glimpse:

Needless to say, everyone is very, very excited about this litter. In exchange for breeding Kosak, Joar will get a puppy at 8 weeks of age. It is undetermined yet which pup that will be. This was an agreement made prior to the breeding. This is the "Golden Harness" litter and currently only a few of the little ones have names. We will update you regularly.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Chemo Wins Fan Club Draw #1

Thank you all so much for joining our Dog Fan Club. We are simply blown away by your support and your love for our dogs. Thank you! Sincerely… thank you!

Congratulations to Linda and Mugs who are a fans of Chemo!

Aliy and Allen were in Sweden earlier this month and brought back a fantastic Kiruna Sled Dog Club hat as part of this weeks prize. Linda and Mugs will also receive an SP Kennel patch along with a glam shot of Chemo and a Fan Club Winner certificate.

Chemo is really the perfect guy. He has learned so much over the years and is now one of the ‘main men’. He knows what training, racing and playing is all about. We expect Chemo ~ as the only 5 year old at SPK ~ to really hold his own. Chemo is easy to love with his big brown eyes and his sweet personality.

The next fan club draw is on October 30th and the winner will receive a fun Halloween themed package. If you haven't already won this season or you are a new member your name will be in the next draw.

Click the button below for instructions on how to join:

Click this button below to take you directly to the Dog Fan Page.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A Month in Alaska

Karolyn first reached out to us while Allen, Aliy and 32 SP Kennel huskys were still trotting down the Iditarod Trail in March. Her e-mail said: "I have been interested in dog sledding for years, probably since I read "Call of the Wild" by Jack London."

Karolyn, like many folks following the race, saw the awesome bond that exists between husky and musher and wondered… maybe that's for me? But, she took the next step and dove in head first!

Karolyn and Aliy on a September ATV scouting adventure with Tig as a photo bomb.

Karolyn arrived at SP Kennel in early September for a month long immersion into the dog mushing world. As a young, recent college graduate a month in Alaska seemed like the perfect break.

So for the last month, she has donated her time and lots of efforts helping at SP Kennel: training dogs, building dog houses, weighing dogs, bull dozing the dog yard, doing endless kennel chores and of course… helping with new born puppies. She even held down the 'fort' when Aliy and Allen went to Sweden. We thank you Karolyn for your steady head, your dedication to our dogs and your happy presence.

The puppies will miss you!

Karolyn and Chipper during 'kennel weigh in day'; Mac gets some luvin'!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Puppy Pictures

Sibling Love: Decaf and Perky

The Coffee Litter is almost 3 weeks old! They are now curious about the 'Big World' outside the dog house door. Bean and Perky made a bold move this morning and climbed out the door and immediately back in. Knowing Mama Olivia desire to get back into sled dog training… she was probably nudging them out the door. "Come on kids you can do it."

Our little runt, Bean, is growing up; Sanka is shy for the camera.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Slow Mo Sunday: Fire Litter in Fresh Snow

Remember when the Fire Litter were just a few months old in November of 2013? This was the first time they had played in snow and, as you can see, they are delighted!

This season they are in their first year as "racing dogs" and we're excited to see them get even more confident and experienced as the season progresses.

You've seen this footage before but you get a new perspective when we slow it down.

Enjoy Slow Mo Sunday!

Music: Pendulum by Apple Inc

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Puppies' Eyes are Opening

Check out these adorable pics of the "Coffee Litter" as they take their first glimpse of the world. Every dog is an individual and so will develop at different rates hence you'll see the range of fully open to not quite there yet… In a couple days they'll all be open and taking in all the world has to offer.

Barista and Bean

Creamer and Decaf

Perky and Sanka

Friday, October 2, 2015

Dog Fan Club is Open!

The 2015-16 Dog Fan Club is now open!

Thank you all so much for your support for this programme over the last two seasons. The feedback we've received about how you've become "invested" in your favorite dogs and enjoyed following their season has been tremendous.

We are in the fortunate position once again this season that all our SP Kennel dogs will have individual sponsors, and for that we are eternally grateful; and we have a long wait list for that programme. Our policy of "one dog, one sponsor" meant that, in previous seasons, many of you could not directly support your favorite dog(s). The Dog Fan Club came into existence during the 2013-14 season after Aliy was trying to figure out how you can show your support for your special dog(s) outside the dog sponsorship programme.

Will you choose Ernie, Izzy, Nomex or someone else?

When you join the Dog Fan Club, your name is displayed on the Dog Fan Club page and every two weeks we make a random draw for a lucky winner. Last year we gave away prizes such as a signed CB300 poster, an Iditarod ball cap and SP Kennel merchandise. We may also have extra, bonus draws throughout the season so keep an eye out for those.

The winning dog gets extra treats out of the Dog Fan Club biscuit barrel that they often share with the rest of the yard.

Show your support for your favorite dog today! The Fan Club is open from October 3rd to the end of March. The first random prize draw is Friday, October 16th.

Aliy and Allen go to Sweden

Aliy and Allen were invited to the Kiruna Sled Dog Seminar October 3rd and 4th in Northern Sweden. The seminar is hosted by the Kiruna Sleddog Club and will be a fun gathering of people from all around the world.

Aliy and Allen often race the Copper Basin 300, Yukon Quest and Iditarod with very talented mushers from Scandinavia. They look forward to seeing as many local sled dog kennels as possible during their trip abroad.