SP Kennel is a premier sled dog racing kennel in Two Rivers, Alaska, dedicated to the individual dog through excellent health, nutrition, training and specialized care.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Hooking up Teams

This time of year -- now that snow is falling and temperatures are dropping -- training runs are getting quite long. So, when hooking up teams, we want to be as efficient as possible in order to get out on the run ASAP. But, we also want to remember everything: fish snacks, headlights, extra harnesses, snow hooks, parkas, dog jackets, booties and much more.

Allen works with Schmoe next to the harness Rack; Two teams are almost ready to go.

When we hook up two training teams simultaneously, the sleds and mainlines are positioned in the middle of the yard. The harness rack is directly in the center. There is a clipboard on the rack with the names, harness sizes and positions of every dog on the team. Just in case, there is a permanent "cheat sheet" affixed to the rack that lists all dogs with their harness size. Each musher is generally in charge of hooking up his or her team ~ usually front to rear.

L-R Lydia is ready, Outlaw gets boots while Lester looks on; Chipper gets special treatment.

With our harness and line system there are no necklines. So after the dogs are harnessed and hooked into their position they will often mill around; sniffing, peeing and socializing. They understand that it is not quite time to leave. Our dogs enjoy this pre-run social time.

When it's time to work… the mushers says "READY?!?" and the dogs face forward, tighten their tug lines, quit socializing and are there to work! It's an awesome sight to see the teams leave the yard.

Teams One leaves the yard: Kodiak, Lydia, Spark, Schmoe, Scooter, Sissy, Chipper, Coal, Hotshot, Daisy, Sandy and Felix; Team Two is right behind: Junior, Commando, Scruggs, Dutch, Outlaw, Nomex, Clyde, Chemo, Violet and Pepe.


Anonymous said...

Padee from Fairbanks, AK says:
Great day for a run, Chipper always gets picked up. she is so Sassy. everyone looks great. go doggies go mushers! Gee oh no its Haw outta the kennel.
Thanks Aliy, Allen and crew

Nessmuk said...

Chipper gets such special treatment being so little...bet she loves it! They all look great!! Thanks for the insight on a typical training session hook up...bet the entire yard is barking "take me! I wanna go too"!!! Good thing you got a schedule all worked out so you can focus...wouldn't want to get out there and discover you forgot the fish snacks!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so very much for this post!!!

Go team (s)!!! Woof, woof, woof!!!

Is everybody having fun? Sure looks like it - and I love the "office water cooler" approach for set up!!! "Socializing" before the long run is so adorable!!!

Also, these dogs (and the others not show) are so gorgeous!!! Woof!!!



Dawn E said...

I fell for SP Kennels the race prior to the fire litter being born. It is so wonderful to see them in harness with the team...and Commando in lead? C'mon, tell me that doesn't just "fit". Go SP Kennels!

Cindy Schaus said...

You are so organized, but I know you have to be with so many dogs to get hooked up and on the trail. I love the fact that they socialize some before they get to work. They know the routine well.

Anonymous said...

These are such beautiful pictures! Thank you especially for all the joy and pleasure you bring to my life with these glimpses into your lives. I am truly grateful.

Barb, CO said...

Thank you for these beautiful pictures. I am truly thankful for the joy and richness you bring to me life with these glimpses of your lives.

Jeanne Willis said...

Thanks for the post. It all makes sense after visiting SP Kennel. The dogs look happy to be running. Glad to see "our" pup looking so great!

Anonymous said...

I got my Red & Black Team Membership packet today. I can't tell you how excited I was to hold in my hand that dog bootie from the Iditarod trail. I was privileged to meet you both at the 2014 Iditarod and consider it one of my favorite vacations. Maybe I will be fortunate enough to get to the Quest one of these years. Have a great racing season!


Kathy said...

It is so refreshing to see what you do and how you do it. The
dogs look great and so disciplined. Thanks for the info.
Happy Thanksgiving to all at SPK!

Hannah Keefe said...

Hey Ali,
Awesome information on hook ups. I love this sytem and how you have harnesses sizes written down so there is never any guessing if you forget. I do wonder how you keep the dogs from tangling and jumping over each other with the lack of necklines, I know it must take awhile to get the larger teams hooked up.

tmcaleer said...

Dogs look so happy doing what the love and want to do! Thanks for taking the photos. Kodiak looking right at the camera. So nice to see 'our' pups out and having a great time.