Friday, March 18, 2016

ID: Hip Boots and Lead Dogs

Chris and Bridgett went to see and feed all the dogs this morning. The Red Team is starting to get feisty and sassy. The Black Team has the youngsters up and ready and the 'more mature' members of the team are still enjoying their beds.

Allen is doing pretty well. He has a badly bruised leg from hitting a tree with some force early in the race but other than that he's looking great. Yesterday morning Allen was up early and he described his day: "I'm gonna eat for a little while, sleep for a little while, eat for a little while, sleep for a little. That sounds like the same agenda for his team.

As we sit together and enjoy each others company Allen and Aliy share stories from the trail with us.

Those who have been following along with us for a while will know that Allen is known for traveling light. He will take what he needs to keep him and his dog team well fed and safe but not much else. This year was a little different.

When we heard the weather forecast for the race Allen joked that he might have to pack his hip boots. They joke about taking a lot of things: coffee machine, camp stove, hip boots... We had no idea he actually did! Early in the race we heard reports of open water sections on the Happy River. Allen said he put his hip boots on at Rainy Pass when they were told of the water. The water was rushing and Allen said the sound of it was what the dogs didn't like. He and Mike Williams Jnr arrived at about the same time and helped each other through then, because it was night time they could see lights coming, Allen said he would alert the coming mushers to stop before the water so he could just grab their leaders and lead them through. He mentioned he could have sold those hip boots for a LOT of money and more fool us for laughing at him for taking them.

Aliy tells a story about what happened to her in the same water crossing. There was a small island in the middle so it was effectively two crossings. She got her dogs over in a big tangled ball and started to line them out at the other end and noticed one missing. Willie was standing on the island looking very sorry for himself. She called him, encouraged him, reasoned with him but he was convinced that water was evil and he needed to stay on the island. She had to wade back through the water to carry him to the other side.

Quito led the Black Team team for the entire race. Allen said you could not tell she was almost 10 years old - she was the first to jump up when he asked the team if they were ready and ran as well as she had ever run. He said she did enjoy the longer rests however and was an excellent leader and mentor to the young dogs Junior and Chena he rotated up in lead with her. She really is the best dog in the world.

I'll try to capture more stories to share with you.

31 comments:

Phillips said...

I love these stories; the Iditarod is a dream and one day perhaps I will have the resources to see Aliy and Allen race, being at the start and again at the finish is a dream of mine. Thank you for sharing little anecdotes with us, it means the world to us 'arm chair' mushers.

Glad you are feeling better and rested, and I had no doubts that the dogs would be raring to go after the excellent care you provide them

Anonymous said...

I love the stories. Keep them coming

A-town's Becky said...

Hip boots, smart Allen
As for that leg injury, I hope Aliy remembered the IB and shared.

Willie you're so silly. It's a good thing Aliy counted! He gave a good example that these dogs run in harness because they want to. It is plenty easy to back right out.

Queen Quito, so glad you enjoyed the race. You looked like the quintessential professional teaching that young team.

Steve Parker said...

Nice stories. Good to know about the hip boots - who would have guessed. Great job all.

Dottye McCain said...

I love these trail stories... please keep them coming..

Cliff said...

Thanks so much for the stories! It's great that Quito was, once again, a superstar leading and mentoring the youngsters!

Anonymous said...

Congrats to both Red and Black teams! Oh, We were so thrilled to be able to give Quito a little scratch on the butt in Anchorage. It came to me last night that I should have a couple of tshirts made that say, Keep Calm, and Zirkle on! Take time to heal Aliy. Then, do as the dogs would do....kick some grass on that shit and move on. Hope that made you smile a little. We love you!

Tammy, Sue, Willow and Palmer

Carrie Hopkins, Windsor, CT said...

Way to go, Quito! I'm still laughing hysterically picturing Willie sad and forlorn on his own little island. Good thinking with extra packing this time, Allen! I laughed at some of Sebastian's shots from the trail of people's unpacked sleds and their "garage sales". I bet they were well prepared for open water too. I can totally picture the red team ready and rearing to go while Queen Quito and the other veterans of the black team tell them to shush cause they're trying to sleep.

Margaret said...

Ditto to the comment "keep these stories coming" - so thrilled to hear about the Happy River incidents. You know, had Mac been able to reach that point, he would have been in TIG heaven!!!

Please watch this carefully to catch Mac's retreiver genes kicking in!!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiViuA4b0IE

gypsy nana said...

Great story telling! Thanks so much for sharing!๐Ÿ•๐Ÿพ๐Ÿ˜€

Cindy Schaus said...

Ditto on keeping those stories coming. Now, if we were just sitting around a campfire roasting marshmallows and listening to the stories that would be so great. Quito stories warm my heart, even though I wasn't quite as connected to all of this when she was in her Prime.

Cindy Schaus said...

One more thing. I would buy a keep calm T-shirt like that!

Sunny said...

Aliy and Allen - I know you don't like to draw attention to yourselves; you give all the praise and attention to the dogs, as it should be. You embody the best of what 'happy people who are successful mushers' strive to be and we all love you for that.
But that 'Keep Calm and Zirkle On' t-shirt idea? Wow. I can't stop laughing. How perfect.

tmcaleer said...

Allen sounds like the boy scout motto "Always be prepared" smart thinking with the hip boots!!

I would not imagine Arnica gel was packed with Allen's kit to take care of the nasty bruise.

Awwww such a SWEET story about Willy, I saw an Insider Go Dogs Go (I think) video of that crossing where a dog went under water, sled on top of it, dog popped back up and in a flash was on the second ice island wondering what the heck just happened. Many tried jumping but being harnessed they were jolted back into the water. Burrrr! I grimaced about what the trail might be like further along.

So wow, VERY CLEVER, I love the "Keep Calm and Zirkle On" T-shirt/insignia concept. WOW, Jump on that one Aliy before someone else nabs it! ..... making lemonade from the lemon as the saying goes.

Love the synopsis and sharing stories and "Queen Quito" GOOD GIRl!! Enjoy the dinner and remaining time there. I know you all still have tons of work to do before getting back home.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the stories. Love them! Glad everyone is getting some much deserved rest.
Love the idea of the t-shirt Tammy.
~Meredith

Judy in VA said...

Love the stories and Would really enjoy hearing more of them!. That Quito is such a classy lady--with so much to teach. And Willie--what a hoot he must have been! Thanks for sharing such upbeat stories๐Ÿพ๐Ÿพ๐Ÿพ๐Ÿพ

Dawn from Maine said...

I love the trail stories, too. Please write a book or do some video storytelling. I can see Aliy going back for Willie. He KNOWS he's a loved puppy! Bless both of them! Quito is an amazing girl--so trusting and smart. Thanks for sharing :)

Nessmuk said...

Silly Willie!!! Living up to his nick name!

Hip Boots?!?! Wow...I recall a funny story when Allen turned down chapstick because of the weight! Might need those hip boots more often if these mild winters keep coming!

Yes...more trail stories please!

Anonymous said...

Can we get an update on Clyde? Has he made his way back to you all yet? Great race Aliy and Allen! Can't wait to hear more stories. No one tells them better than SP Kennel.

Thank you for sharing. Peg

Dawn E said...

Love trail stories...thank you so much.

J elliott said...

When I saw the daytime shots of that h2 o crossing - first thought was uh- oh .. Now they need to wear diver's dry suits... Hip boots probanly better

Honestly you guys - what tribulations to overcome. Now Allen needs a sportsman recognition & then some...

Gaye Morgan-Walton said...

Thanks for the insider glimpses into our fave mushers and their teams. Next best to being there--I will be someday I hope!! As to Quito, I will be her fan as long as she lives and I hope she will end her days way into the future in a wonderful retirement at SPK. I cannot visualize them ever letting her go away. She is a one of a kind dog. But thankfully her offspring are carrying on some good traditions. Golden Harness pups and their older siblings. QT is my baby fan for now.

Lourdes, VT said...

Oh man, I love those kind of stories so very much! I realize now, that the Iditarod is so much more than just a race, so much more than what the slogan "The toughest race on Earth" advertizes!!! It is a result of a way of living that is so exacting and at the same time, so very wonderful!!!
I love you all, Aliy, Allen, the Red and Black Teams, the handlers, volunteers, Moira, family, specially the beautiful, beloved dogs!
You guys are simply great!!!

Anonymous said...

yes, love all the trail stories, keep them coming.
thanks

Anonymous said...

Is anyone else trying to figure out how to make hipwaters for sled dogs? Selling those and the Kept Calm and Zirkle on tshirts...one could make a fortune!


Susan McCandless said...

If SPK wants to use my Keep Calm and Zirkle on idea...they sure can! I would even buy a shirt myself!

0300jh JeanneHammel said...

What a delightful insight. As always have to go back to: "There is no quit in Quito" that phrase has gotten me personally through many challenges.... Maybe trademark that (LOL). So happy to hear of your adventures and positive outlook. Thanks for the continued inspirations. GO SPK!!!

Kathy said...

Love the stories! Allen you have the last laugh now--Get Well Soon!
The T-Shirt's sounds great--I'll buy one!
I have an idea for when you retire Quito--Music of Unforgettable
by Nat King Cole with pictures of Quito! She is truly Unforgettable!
SP Kennel is the BEST!! Sharing things with there FANS!

patricia lewis said...

Thanks, Margaret, for that blast from the past. I totally forgot about Mac out-retrieving Tig.

Marilyn cozzens said...

Yes love the trail stories. Quito is such a very special truly remarkable dog! She deserves the title QUEEN. Both mushers & dog teams are fabulous. Love everything about SPK. Thanks for all the wonderful posts Moira.

Marilyn cozzens said...

Oh & has Clyde made it to Nome? I hope all is well with him.