Friday, November 28, 2008

After Breakfast

Note: This is an excerpt from my contributions to the SP Kennel Dog Log

Aliy and I had just finished feeding the dogs their breakfast, when she started talking about how she looks at the dogs every day and evaluates their condition. I said "Hold that thought..." and got out my camera.

So, here's another brief "behind the scenes" glimpse of kennel life... Plus a little bonus footage of a few of the puppies here at SP Kennel. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

On A 4-Wheeler Training Run

Note: This is an excerpt from my contributions to the SP Kennel Dog Log

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Left Behind!

Note: This is an excerpt from my contributions to the SP Kennel Dog Log

With more than 60 dogs at the kennel, it is physically impossible for Allen and Aliy to run all of them at the same time. This means that some of them get left behind. Now, I don't pretend to really know "the mind of the dog" but it seems to me that those who are left behind are pretty bummed about it... Some especially so.

I shot this video of what it's like at the kennel "after the bosses are gone" and thought I'd post it to share a little "behind the scenes" action. I think those of you who are fans of Heeler -- "Mr. Personality" -- will find it especially entertaining, and I hope the rest of you enjoy it as well!

(Note: Aliy said the only thing she doesn't like about the video is that it shows what the kennel is like before it has been cleaned. I've assured her that everyone will understand, especially since I ended by saying "it's time to clean the dog yard!" If you'd like a real look "behind the scenes", I'd be happy to share that little bit of fun with you some day!)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

On The Trail With Yearlings

Note: This is an excerpt from my contributions to the SP Kennel Dog Log

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Macgellan Is Here!

Note: This is an excerpt from my contributions to the SP Kennel Dog Log

I'm sure you've noticed the new videos we've posted on the blog over the last few days, and you may have wondered "What's up with that?"

Well, Macgellan -- one of our kennel sponsors -- emailed me last summer to say that he had completed his latest expedition (a 658 day circumnavigation of the surface of the earth!) and was planning his next: To spend the winter exploring Alaska and the world of sled dogs.

He asked if he could start out by spending some time at the kennel and I told him that if he was sure he wanted to be in the interior of Alaska at the coldest, darkest time of year he was more than welcome.

So, he arrived last weekend and has gotten right into the swing of things. Partly he is helping out with kennel chores like feeding, hooking up teams, doing errands in town and the endless process of cleaning the dog yard! Everything he does around here helps us have more time to do what we need to do most: Train dogs!

He is also helping out with our "technology issues" like installing wireless internet in the kennel, adding videos to the blog, etc. We are especially excited about this because it will enable us to bring you much more -- and better -- coverage of the dogs, our training and, very soon, the racing season.

We are happy that Macgellan is here and we look forward to having his ongoing help. We hope that you are too!


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Macgellan Update: With Sled Dogs In Alaska!

Greetings!… I've been crazy busy since completing The Voyage back in May, but haven't had anything suitable for posting to the web. I am delighted to report that condition has now changed!

I am writing to you from Two Rivers, Alaska, about 25 miles northeast of Fairbanks in the heart of the Alaskan Interior. I have come up here to explore Alaska in the winter, and to totally immerse myself in the life of the Alaskan Husky sled dogs I love so much. I have been very fortunate to renew my acquaintance with Aliy Zirkle and her husband Allen Moore -- both professional dog mushers and Iditarod racers -- who run SP Kennel here in Two Rivers. They have very graciously helped me arrange nearby accommodations and are including me in every aspect of kennel operations, from running dogs to cleaning the dog yard. You can imagine how happy I am to be amidst 60 fabulous sled dogs on a daily basis!

In brief, Interior Alaska in winter is cold, dry and dark! Temperatures have been -10F to -20F degrees since I arrived last week, and promise to go as low as -40F degrees in the near future. The air is so dry that the usual winter problems of chapped hands, lips, etc. are a continual challenge. Frostbite is also a constant danger, and you have to be very careful to keep covered at all times to avoid getting "nipped" (which can happen in a shockingly brief amount of time!) It doesn't start getting light until about 9am and the sun never gets more than 15 degrees above the horizon before setting again at about 4pm. This, too, promises to get "worse" as the days shorten even more over the next month. I'll keep you posted!

I will be contributing heavily to the SP Kennel Dog Log and invite you to look for all my postings there. I plan to cross-post some of that content here, whatever and whenever it seems appropriate. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, I've gone to the dogs!

Best regards,