Friday, December 30, 2016

Amber Wins New Year Dog Fan Club Draw

Happy New Year! We hope 2017 is the best one yet! We wish you good health and happiness... and why not world peace while we're at it.

Congratulations to Katy Hund from Maine who is a fan of Amber!

Amber is super excited and ready to launch (literally) into this season. Her enthusiasm is priceless. She is small but that won't hold her up. She is stepping up into a lead dog position this season.

Katy Hund wins a signed Iditarod 2016 poster plus an SP Kennel patch. Of course she will get a photo print portrait of Amber also. We hope you enjoy your packet Katy!

Our next scheduled Dog Fan Club draw will be on January 13th and will be Copper Basin 300 themed! Everyone who has joined by then and hasn't already won will be in the draw to win! Before that we will do a bonus draw - we are fast closing in on 200 dog fan club members and once we hit that magic number we'll draw again so keep an eye out for that!

Click the button below for more information about how to join:

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

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Sharing the Christmas Treats

Okay... heads up this is a LONG video. Elf Aliy and Elf Wendy passed out some of the treats that were sent to SP Kennel from all you lovey folks. THANKS!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016


For those of you who have been crossing your fingers, toes and paws for snow... it WORKED! The white fluffy stuff is falling.
Weather service is calling for an impressive Winter Storm in Interior Alaska for the next few days ~ "Heavy Snow" predicted.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

From Our Home to Yours

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from all of us here at SP Kennel!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Spark Wins Bonus Dog Fan Club Draw

Merry Christmas, Seasons Greetings and Happy Holidays to everyone celebrating at this time of year.

The best gift we at SP Kennel could hope for is something we already have: the support from our fans! Thank you so very much for all the support you give us: be-it monetary, vocally, a comment on our blog or simply a "like" on social media. We appreciate you all.

We've made a bonus Fan Club draw today and congratulations to Nancy and Gaige boy from New Hampshire who are a fans of SPARK!

Spark is a talented goofball. Probably the most happy dog at SP Kennel, he runs with his tail half way in the air (in case he needs to wag it excitedly!) He flirts with everyone, all the time. He is running in lead position often, we will count on him this season.

Nancy and Gaige boy will receive a holiday themed "glam" shot of the Olympic puppies, some SP Kennel goodies and a glossy glam of Spark. We hope you enjoy your packet!

Our next scheduled Dog Fan Club draw will be on December 30th and everyone who has joined by then and hasn't already won will be in the draw to win!

Click the button below for more information about how to join:

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

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Hello on Solstice!

I was driving home yesterday and thought how G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S it was in front of me. Since many of you have never driven the last mile to SP Kennel, I invite you to come with me now! I used a Dire Straits song, "On Every Street", because I think of the last mile to home very fondly and I hope you think of the last mile to your home the same way.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Aliy Speaks about Iditarod Assault Court Case

I, was not, and am, still not, very comfortable talking about the assaults on me during the Iditarod 2016. Originally, I thought that by sharing that horrible story, it would only create a world of drama and undercut the terrifying reality of the attack on me. There seems to be enough make believe drama in our world that I didn't want this serious of an event to be trivialized. Also it just plain hurt to talk about. Imagine someone actually trying to kill you. Yea... not a great thought, eh?

But now, I have come to realize that by not sharing the awful details of March 12th it has left many people not understanding how much the attack affected me. So the reality is that I have struggled for over 10 months to try to return to the 'person I used to be.' I have only recently come to the realization that I will never be that person again.

But today is a good day. It is the first day in over 10 months that I can start to look forward instead of back. Arnold Demoski plead guilty and was sentenced to serve a six-month prison term for his attacks. I was able to say a few words to Demoski - the man who single-handedly created many nightmares and current fears in me. I was glad to speak my mind and it helped me tremendously.

The exact outcome and prison sentence is simply a resolution. I have learned more than I ever wanted to know about the State of Alaska criminal justice system. I can only hope to never be a victim of a crime again.

For me, today was the end of waiting and worrying and waiting. Now, I can focus ahead. There are only 74 days until Iditarod starts. I have not yet been able to picture myself or my dog team out on that trail again. So now my job is to focus ahead and bring back the 'Aliy' that loved that trail for many years. As always... I will do my best.

For more details on the actual Court Case both the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner and the Anchorage ADN have articles today.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Arctic Sunset

A training run last week brought my dog team to a high ridge just to the north of Two Rivers. The view was amazing and simply HAD to be shared. Honestly... it took some effort to dig out my video camera that was buried deep in my insulated under parka pocket (trying to keep it warm.) But I think this video clip is truly worth it. I hope you enjoy.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Moon Howl

A very full moon and a few enthusiastic dogs.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Joe-Schmoe wins Dog Fan Club Draw

Congratulations to The Willette Family who are a fans of SCHMOE!

Schmoe is a true sweetie. He is mega excited to run, eat and howl. It's amazing to think of all of his amazing accomplishments: he is a Yukon Quest and Copper Basin 300 champion and has run in the Iditarod five times. Along with all that, Schmoe simply makes us smile!

The Willette's will receive a holiday themed "glam" shot of the puppies (we'll share that with y'all next week), some SP Kennel goodies and a glossy glam of Schmoe. We hope you enjoy your packet!

We will have a bonus Christmas draw next Friday and everyone who has joined by then and hasn't already won will be in the draw to win!

Click the button below for more information about how to join:

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

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Puppies on a Leash

Gold, Prata and Bronze are growing up. They have had great fun with Ruth exploring many of the neighborhood forests, learning to come when called and racing each other across the fields. But as they become older they have become independent pups. There personalities are truly blossoming. Each pup deserved personal time and soon they will have full time individual homes. This has become necessary as the threesome have recently had a few 'discussions' about who is taking up too much space in their puppy house.

In order to prepare the youth for their own houses they are given individual collars and are walked on leashes. Sometimes this happens in a group (quite challenging as you will see) and sometimes individually. This way the youngsters will be completely comfortable adjusting to their own homes. Their houses are situated in a tight group so that the three can play and harass each other as much as they desire but can sleep independently.

Ruth took this video while walking the threesome ~ quite talented!
Thanks Ruth.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Yearling Camp Out

Ruth and Chris took some of the yearlings on their first Camp out. This is a 'big deal' for some dogs. It's sort of like a a troop of 9 year old Boy Scouts heading out into a National Park for the weekend. Away from Mom and Dad. Away from your bed. Away from heat, electricity and comfort. Oh my.

Our yearlings (and Ruth and Chris) had a good time. They camped out for several hours and mushed home on some challenging trails. The Yearlings had the following day off (The Mushers should have... but didn't!)

Here are some photos of the youngsters (Thanks Chris!)

R-L: Chevie, Bruno and Sanka stand near their straw beds whereas Ginger sits in her straw. Barista gets the camping idea! Good Girl!

This is the best photo! McCaw ~ the giant ~ and Bean ~ the pipsqueak ~ can't understand why they are sitting around near piles of straw with no dog houses nearby. Can you imagine their conversation?

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Thank you for Loving our Dogs: Spicy Meets Her Sponsors

When Spicy was a racing dog, Greg and Vivian from Atlanta were her sponsors. They always kept in touch via cards and letters ~ even after Spicy's retirement. Unfortunately they never got to meet Spicy at SP Kennel before she went home to New Zealand with Moira.

Last week Greg and Vivian were in New Zealand as part of an Australia/New Zealand cruise so Moira, her Dad and Spicy took a trip up to Auckland to meet them! They took in a local beach, an extinct volcano views of the city and a walk in the park.

We love when our dog sponsors get to meet "their dog" and we're so happy Greg and Vivian got to meet Spicy. They really went "the extra mile" for her!

Thank you to ALL of our dog fans, sponsors and team members. Your contributions and enthusiasm for the entire SP Kennel philosophy is outstanding. We could go on and on about ALL of you, but let's just say that the personal attention that our dogs receive from you is spectacular.

And if you were wondering... Yes... when we receive biscuits and dog treats in the mail ~ they are personally passed out (YUMMY)~; when a dog receives a Love Letter from a Fan ~ there is immediately a 'Dog of the Day' ~ when a dog gets a special bone delivery ~ he or she enjoys the tasty treat!~ The dogs are the reason we are dog mushers. This isn't just a saying or phrase... it's the SP Kennel truth.

So, if you are curious... we WILL be accepting Christmas and Holiday presents for the dogs. All of our dogs have different Santa's Lists:
  • For the Racing Dogs and Yearlings: big, little or medium edible dog treats, real bones, rigid chew toys
  • For the Puppies: Rigid and Semi tough chew toys and smaller edible treats
  • For the Mature Dogs: Softer treats (not everyone has all their teeth)
  • For the Special Needs Dogs: Squeaky toys are okay (these dogs are always supervised with toys), dog beds, blankets or cushions

After the holidays, we will post a list and some photos of the dogs with their presents.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Dog Sponsor Packets are on the way!

Office work is H-A-R-D. We are done for the day!

All the goodies have arrived, been sorted, sized and repacked. The packets and boxes brought to Trailside Mail this past Monday.

Hopefully we got them out before the Holiday rush is on.

If you have 'Joined the Team' then your packet has been compiled and mailed as well.

Thank good ness for 40 BELOW days or the crew at SP K would never get our indoor chores completed!

The helpful packing crew (Tig, Scout and Scruggs) waits indoors for their next assignment. If you have any dog hair in your envelopes... well... lucky YOU!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Sled Run Photos

Chris and Aliy left the yard with 8 dogs per team. They went on a long afternoon/ evening training run. The teams ran out of the yard 30 minutes before the sun set at 2:49PM.) Needless to say, it was a gorgeous run.

Aliy Heads out of the Yard with Chena, Scooby, Nomex, Spark, Five, Rodney, Sandy and Ernie.

Chris' Team (Woody, Chemo, Driver, Ginger, Driver, Outlaw, Hotshot, Cayenne and Wedgy) cross the SP Driveway.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Yukon Quest Documentary

As the season starts to gather speed our thoughts start to look forward to upcoming races. Of course, one of the big ones on SP Kennel's calendar is the Yukon Quest.

Canadian Broadcasting & Media Production Company Red Letter Films made a documentary series "Mushers: Conquering the Yukon Quest" during the 2015 race. If you haven't seen it already, or you would like to see it again, you can watch it 'on demand' on Vimeo (click the red link to take you to the page). Red Letter Films say about the series: "It depicts the awesome and true relationship between the mushers and their pups" so check it out!

Watch the interview the team did with Allen before the 2015 race and see some fantastic action shots of the team training on the Two Rivers trails.

"...people say "Why do these dogs do this, and why do they do it for 1000 miles? The best analogy I can give is why does a black Lab go after a tennis ball? If you throw it all day long, it will go after the tennis ball. Why? Because it is bred into them. It is bred into that retriever to retrieve, it's bred into these dogs to run, and they're not happy unless they're running."

Visit Red Letter Films' YouTube channel for more exclusive interviews and let them know how much you enjoyed the series.

If you ever have any questions about our dogs or kennel you can find lots of information right here on the DogLog (check the "About Us" and "Dog Mushing Basics" buttons or the search function down the left hand side) or email us directly on Email: and just ask!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Chipper Wins Dog Fan Club Draw

Congratulations to Mary Duffy who has won today's Dog Fan Club draw. Mary is a fan of CHIPPER.

As you saw earlier... IT'S SNOWING!!! And, it's been pretty chilly in Two River this week also! So, in celebration of that, Mary will receive an SP Kennel beanie to keep her ears warm plus some other kennel goodies.

For such a wee little dog, Chipper is a handful! If we can keep her from losing her 'beans' and focusing when she needs to… she will again be the Rock Star that we know she can be.

Our next draw will be December 16th and everyone who hasn't already won and joined by then will be in to win!

Click the button below for more information about how to join:

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

It's Snowing!

We have 2 inches of fresh powder snow on the ground and more is coming down.

This is ~ by far ~ the biggest snow storm that we have had this season. It's not falling at a 'blizzard rate' but if this keeps up, Alaska might look like Alaska by Christmas!

We are headed out on sleds today.

Needless to say... everyone is a little bit excited!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Training in the Cold

It has still been "chilly" in Two Rivers the last few days. Often times in the thick of winter, there is an inversion layer where warmer air rises in the hills -- so we go train the teams where it's warmer. We tried that a day ago only to find that it wasn't any toastier up high.

Many of the dogs have protective jackets and all of them have booties on their feet. You'll notice they are nibbling on frozen salmon -- YUMMY. Several dogs have on neck lines. That is because we must cross a highway and travel several miles down a logging road. The dogs wearing necklines tend to have extra energy when we 'stand still' waiting for traffic. So this additional leash adds security that these guys won't go play in that traffic.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Alaska's Youth

I love this video. I posted it several years ago and I have thought about it often over the last week. This video was put together by the kids from the village of Shaktoolik. I spent very little time in Shak this year on Iditarod 2016 - but there's always next year.

The Iditarod, the Yukon Quest and many of our shorter races travel through many villages like Shaktoolik. We cross the state (and the Yukon Territory) traveling from one village to the next. These small communities that dot our great state are tremendously supportive of our sport and understand our lifestyle. When I tell to a youth in Ruby that I was standing under the Northern Lights in the middle of the frozen river when I heard a snowmachine behind me... that kid knows what I'm talking about!

The youth in rural Alaska are like the youth in the rest of the world, they have their own 'growing up' issues, as well as family, peer and community problems. Every kid across the planet has had them and every one will. But, the youth in rural Alaska don't always have the educational network and extended social programs that kids in more populated centers can find. I have seen this first hand in the 25 years that I have lived in small Alaskan communities and traveled through villages.

But, how does a dog musher try to help?

I certainly don't have the education, skills or knowledge to help youth deal with their issues. I can't bring any helpful tools or educational curriculum with me as I travel down the race trail. I don't have hours during a race to truly listen to anyone and I wouldn't assume that I could help when I struggle at times to help my self. So, the answer remained a mystery to me for many years.

Matson is a primary sponsor of SP Kennel and our dog mushing races. They support the Iditarod as well and even sponsor the 'Most Improved Musher' Award given at the banquet in Nome. Matson has also demonstrated its commitment to supporting organizations that seek to improve the quality of life in communities in which their employees live and work. Therefore when the Alaska arm of Matson decided to invest in Alaska's youth by supporting The Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (ANDVSA) I wanted to become involved.

I met with the fantastic ANDVSA staff in August for the first time. They had an idea. Why not connect me with the Lead On conference? Lead On is a yearly youth leadership conference focused on violence prevention. It has three main goals:
1) to increase youth leadership skills
2) increase healthy relationships
3) to promote social change through community youth led projects

This year's conference was held November 18-20 in Anchorage. I went to the conference simply to see if it was all the it seemed to be. It was! A total of 93 youth and 38 adult community partners from all across the state came together. I listened and learned. I talked to youth and to chaperones. And I thought "Wouldn't it be neat if I could help recruit more youth from even more remote parts of Alaska?"

I had a small part in a workshop titled “Knowing Who you Are”. Myself, along with a Lead On youth alumni, Jennesy, spoke briefly about issues that we have faced and how we dealt with them. The workshop focused on the power of the self. The large group of youth listened intently to our stories and then explored their own personality traits, identities and strengths.

So, basically this is what I told my audience:
I fit no conventional mold. I never have. This doesn't bother me now. I tried to fit a normal mold when I was a teen, at least for a year or two. But I pretty much failed to pull that off.
People might tell you how you should feel or act, as they did me. Some people will be helpful and some will be way off base. It's okay to listen. You will mess up here and there and then you will find your path. Remember, it's your path... so ultimately it's up to you to find it. You can start by following the herd, there is no shame in that, or you can set out alone and try different routes, or you might just sit and watch for a while, then make a choice. Most of all, I believe, that you will be happy if you are true to your self. Find who you are... take your time because it's important... and then do your best to live the life that you deserve with your friends, your family or your loved ones.

I can say for certain that: I know who I am. Of course, there have been 'bumps in the road' (for all of us) while we find the path that best suits our self. For some of us, the teenage years were challenging and for others we jumped hurdles in our 20's, 30's or even 40's. Some of you might be reading this now in your 50's, 60's and 70's and wondering Who am I? But, I am fortunate. At this point in my life. I Know. It begins with 'dog' and ends with 'musher'. There is probably a bit more to it than that but I need to keep a few secrets.

I hope to have a future working with ANDVSA. I envision that Matson and I will work together to promote Lead On - to support the concept, to recruit sponsors, to increase participation, to advertise successes. This could be part of my game plan during and after the 2017 Iditarod.

Thanks, Alaska's Youth, for supporting me and SP during my racing career. Your successes are the successes of all that live in this great state of Alaska that I call home.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Bonus Thanksgiving Dog Fan Club Draw

We do have a lot to be thankful for! We are thankful for all our supporters, fans and sponsors, our friends and family and, of course, all our amazing canine family.

Today we celebrate our Dog Fan Club members by holding a bonus Dog Fan Club draw.

Congratulations to the students of the Northern Lights Academy right here in Fairbanks who are fans of BEAN.

Bean has finally calmed down a little, at least enough to wrangle her into a harness. That pup is certainly meant to pull and we are so excited to have her part of the team. She has been partnered with her sister Creamer for many of the training runs and they work very nicely together. The two blue eyed beauties replicate their Mamma Olivia.

The students' winning packet includes some fun and interesting stuff for the classroom plus a photo print portrait of Bean. We hope you enjoy your packet!

Our next regular draw will be December 2nd and everyone who hasn't already won and joined by then will be in to win!

Click the button below for more information about how to join:

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

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Yukon Quest Fundraiser

The Yukon Quest has several fundraisers throughout the year. This past weekend the 'Bunny Boots and Bids' was held in Fairbanks.

Believe it or not... Allen wore a tuxedo to the event -- which was sponsored by Alaskan Floral And Wedding. He was not alone with his attire selection. He was joined by YQ veteran mushers Hugh Neff, Paige Drobny, Mike Ellis, Matt Hall, Ryne Olson and Cody Strathe. Rookie mushers Jeff Deeter, Ben Good, Noah Pereira and YQ300 musher Chase Tingle all looked sharp as they served appetizers prepared by the UAF Community & Technical College Culinary Arts students and staff.

Beer and wine tasting was courtesy of sponsors Alaskan Brewing Co. and K&L Distributors.

A fun night had by all!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

New Puppy Portraits!

When Jeanne was here in October to take the 'formal' portraits of the racing dogs and yearlings, she also took the puppies' first portraits. Check out our updated Puppies page for some details about each one!

They were not quite ready to stand nicely for a full body shot like the grown ups, so we employed special tactics to get them to pose: dressing Aliy in a black sheet while she cuddled them and Jeanne clicked the shutter! You will agree they are fantastic portraits of our newest family members.

Bronze (not that is totally not Aliy's arm in the picture... well... okay, yes it is)

Prata in for a cuddle

Gold looking wise

Friday, November 18, 2016

Nelson Wins Dog Fan Club Draw!

Thanks again to everyone who has joined the Dog Fan Club. Congratulations to Joanne Jacobs who is a fan of NELSON!

Nelson looks good!! He is so excited this season, he gets truly ecstatic when you walk up to him with a harness. The "sweetheart" that you can cuddle with vanishes and he becomes a possessed sled dog. He's ready for a big season. 

Following on from Aliy's post earlier in the week, Joanne wins a Pleasant Valley Store T-shirt plus some other kennel goodies. Joanne, we'll be in touch to choose your colour!

Joanne will also receive a glossy "glam" shot of Nelson! Who wouldn't love that?

Also for those that asked, here (left) is the store quilt Aliy mentioned in her post. Click on the picture to make it larger.

We will have a bonus Thanksgiving draw next Friday and everyone who has joined by then and haven't already won will be in the draw to win!

Click the button below for more information about how to join:

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

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Sled Ride

Last week I went on a 3 hour real dog sled ride. As in = the dogs pulled me on a sled with 2 inches of snow on the ground. Nope... In case you were wondering, I did not have much physical control of the sled. With no snow, the metal pronged brake tips can not penetrate the frozen ground and thus there is no stopping mechanism. The grass, logs and tree limbs are not covered either so the sled runners slip and slide quite haphazardly. Yup, there were a few tip overs! And there is no real obvious trail to follow. My new vocal command to the team for this sled ride was: "Find the Trail!" That's entertaining isn't it? Mismo and Junior did just that. Dutch and Izzy were eager to follow behind as were Sandy and Driver.

Enjoy my somewhat bumpy, yet entertaining fun sled ride.

In case you were wondering... there is very little snow (again) in Alaska. The snow that is on the ground in this video arrived earlier in the month. Since then we have gotten just a scant amount more. Hopefully, this tiny base cover won't go away until April. This topic is a daily conversation between mushers and non mushers a like. When will it come? Or will it ever come? I do not know. I can guess, like everybody else. But, I really do not know.

Regardless of the lack of snow, SP Kennel's training continues unimpeded. Our overall mileage, duration of runs and terrain training hasn't been effected. The fact that we have ATV four wheelers makes training for the Copper Basin 300, Yukon Quest and even Iditarod still possible and successful, just not always fun.

Some of the fun factor still persists despite the lack of snow because I am a dog enthusiast, first and foremost. So I get to watch all the SP Kennel athletes gain knowledge, training miles, endurance and speed. Each dog is placed on different training teams on a daily basis in order for them to train to their best potential. With myself, Allen, Ruth and Chris all speeding a great deal of time on ATVs, we can easily get the entire kennel trained up. But... back to the fun factor. Every once in a while, a person needs to have fun. (Or at least that's my take on life.)

Going out with a team of huskys is fun because you get to enjoy the ride and live in the moment. On a sled, a musher is a unique part of the team. Yes, the musher ultimately 'controls' the dog team but that control is just like the control you have of your pet poodle as it meanders down the sidewalk looking for the best spot(s) to pee. Is that really control or just sort of an understanding? On a sled, a musher has to 'go with the flow' and realize that the act of moving down the trail is everything. You don't so much think about where you are going or when you'll get there. You and your dogs are dealing with the unpredictable and all of you are simply managing the moment. There are not a lot of times in life when this the how a person can live. But, every once in a while, as a dog musher, I let my self really, truly, have some fun!

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Olympic Puppies are 4 months old

Gold, Prata and Bronze have reached a Puppyhood benchmark: 4 months old. It doesn't seem like they should be that old yet. Gold is quite large, happy and grabs any and all attention as quick as possible. Prata is racy, fast and will jump in your lap and steal gloves, loose clothing and kisses. Bronze is the sweetheart. She doesn't bother anyone and would like her big brother and sassy sister to quit picking on her. When Bronze grows into her legs and barrel chest she will easily hold her own.

Jeanne Schnackenberg photo.