Friday, November 27, 2009

Outtake: Howling With The Big Dogs

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

This 30-second video is so dumb I probably shouldn't post it. You really have to be a "dog person" to appreciate it.

Here's the set up: While I was editing the Happy Thanksgiving video on my Mac yesterday, my sweet, dumb companion dog Stella heard all the howling and started joining in. It made me laugh, so I grabbed a camera.

I honestly don't know if Stella realized there weren't any real dogs, but the instinct to howl with the big dogs must just be irresistible. Enjoy...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Hook Up And Head Out!

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

A number of you have asked about "hooking up the dogs" so we're going to bring you a series of posts about it.

For starters, we thought it would be a good idea to show you the process from start to finish from a fixed viewpoint. To do this, I set up a camera in the Kennel's exit chute and started it rolling. The problem is that it took about 16 minutes to hook up 16 dogs, and that's just too much video to ask anybody to sit through.

In the editing process I tried speeding up the video and, frankly, I think it got more interesting the faster I pushed it. Ending up at 8-times normal speed, I think it turned out to be pretty entertaining too. It all starts out so orderly as the first few dogs are hooked up, but the more dogs there are and the closer it gets to them heading out… Well, you'll just have to see for yourself.

While that camera was running, I walked out in the field to shoot the dogs on the run… Always fun to watch. I've included that at normal speed at the end, and I think you'll find it provides some helpful "slow down" time from an otherwise hectic, chaotic stretch of video.

With no further ado, here's what Aliy and Allen do every day and sometimes twice a day. We invite you to buckle up and hang on!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Happy's New Collar

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

A number of you have written to ask what's up with "Happy The Sled Dog" so we thought we'd give you a little update.

Happy is doing just great here at the Kennel. She is training on a full schedule with all the racing dogs and she looks really good. I asked Allen about her and he said, "Well, she's not our best dog... But she's not our worst dog either!" High praise from Allen, indeed!

The biggest thing in her life right now -- besides being able to flaunt the fact that she's an Iditarod finisher to all the new, young racers! -- is that she's got a new collar! In this video, Aliy explains and Happy shows you just about everything that makes her the unique sled dog she is!

Note: We promise that there will soon be a lot more about Happy here on the Dog Log! Stay tuned!

Friday, November 20, 2009

First Walk With The Pups

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

I was getting ready to take Stella and Tig out for their afternoon romp when Aliy said she was ready for a break and suggested we take the puppies out for a walk, too.

Although the pups mostly stay in a pen with their mother Pepper, they have been allowed to romp around the dog yard for brief periods. As you know, they also have been in the house from time to time. Today, however, was their first official "walk" down the driveway and out into the big field.

As you will see, the video is pretty chaotic. Frankly, I spent most of the time with the camera down at knee level, shooting freehand and hoping for the best. Add to that the fact that Aliy and I are both using our best -- i.e. most idiotic -- puppy-attention-getting voices. Plus, Tig and Stella tried their best to get our attention… Well, let's just leave it at being chaotic.

The video turned out, however, to have some really great puppy moments. So, I decided to abandon any efforts at editing and have just strung the clips together.

Bottom line: If you like puppy videos, we think you're gonna love this one!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday Pupdate!

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

We brought the pups inside for a while this morning and had a grand time with them.

Scooter was active and outgoing, especially enjoying time laying on Allen's chest. Smoe played hard then crashed for a perfect little puppy nap.

Sissy has the best mustache in the Kennel... Perhaps in the entire dog universe! (We hope her doggie friends don't tease her about it.) And then there's Spoog... What more can you say than "Too cute!"

All the pups are doing very well and growing like crazy! Pepper is a very good mom, and all the dogs are helping to socialize the pups in the Kennel pack. Stay tuned for future Pupdates!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

It Feels Like Winter Is Finally Here!

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

A picture's worth a thousand words...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Macgellan Update: Ready For Action!

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

Just a quick, final update to report that I'm ready for action!

I had, of course, a few of the usual, "It's never easy!" challenges to contend with. A couple of frozen jacks on my camper required a little ingenuity and the use of an old-style camper jack that Allen just happened to have lying around! Sorting out and hooking up the rest of the "utilities" each had their idiosyncrasies, but nothing a half-dozen trips to the hardware store couldn't fix. To my great satisfaction, I'm now all set up with power, heat and internet in my camper!

What more could I want? Well… A guy's gotta have a dog! That's right, my sweet, quiet, low maintenance roommate from last season has joined me again. I brought Stella over from the Kennel, opened the door to my camper and said, "Go on, get in there!" It took her less than three seconds to figure out where the bed was and take up her usual bed-hogging position. Welcome home, Stella!

So, I'm ready for action and hope that you are too!

Each Dog Is An Individual

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

It's one of the most fundamental principles we have of being "dog first" at SP Kennel: Each dog is an individual. We recognize their individuality, we respect it and we do everything we can to accommodate it.

Most of the time, a dog's individuality shows up in little ways: Where in a team they like to run, which other dogs they like to hang out with, how much they enjoy being handled by strangers, etc.

While getting media off of Aliy's camera the other day, I found a little gem of a video clip that I think really illustrates the dogs' individuality. Here's the set up:

When a team returns to the Kennel after a run, most dogs are pretty mellow and ready to chill out. They've done their work and they're ready to head back to their houses for a hot meal and a good, long rest. As a result, most of them will wait patiently to be unhooked from the line, either quietly standing around or even laying down. Usually their tails are wagging, but mostly they're pretty relaxed and low energy.

Except for this one dog we've got. No matter how far she runs, she's always full of energy when she gets back to the Kennel. As you will see, that's actually an understatement!

(I suspect some of you may have already guessed who she is…)

Friday, November 06, 2009

Every Picture Tells A Story

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

We had just a little sun the other day when Aliy took a visitor out for a ride-along on a training run, so I grabbed a bunch of shots as they were leaving the Kennel. Although at first glance they don't really seem to be very informative, a closer look shows that every picture tells a story. Take a look at this photo and see what you can see.

Besides the obvious facts that there are 14 dogs running and we don't have much snow yet, let's zoom in on a few parts of the photo to see what else we can observe… Especially about the personalities of the individual dogs.

First of all, we've got talented young Dingle in lead with his head down and working very hard to impress his beautiful, leggy co-leader, Petunia. Dingle is a 3-year old who is really coming into his prime. He was one of Allen's main leaders on the Iditarod last year.

Petunia is a 5-year old who is fully in her prime. Although she is an absolute sweetheart around the Kennel, she is always a focused, hard working dog with strong leadership qualities while in harness. She knows she is one of the prettiest sled dogs in the world, and she uses that to her advantage.

Next, we've got the veteran Spicy, an experienced and talented 5-year old, running in swing with Malibu, a 2-year old rising star. True to her nature, Spicy has her head down and her tug line tight with her focus clearly on the trail in front of her.

Malibu has momentarily picked her head up to check me out. While in some cases this can be a sign of lost concentration, here it is a sign of "surveying the scene" that lead dogs must be very good at. Keep your eye on Malibu this season, as she is likely to be an important young member of the team.

Behind them you can see 7-year old Bullet, one of those rare dogs who can -- and will -- do anything you ask her to. Whether it is leading in the most difficult situations, setting the pace while running in swing or being a solid member of the team as she is here, Bullet is a dog who earns everybody's respect. She may be shy and not very affectionate around the Kennel, but Aliy won't go anywhere without her.

Finally, we've got the rest of the team:

Skittles is head up and sassy, and Spot is "in the zone." Behind them you can barely see both solid young Chica and the always hard working and cheerful Teddy. Next is Quito, another of the talented 3-year old crew, and behind her are Tyson and Nutmeg, working hard like good team dogs do.

And who do we have back in wheel position? The last dog on the right is young Bonita, yet another of the solidly developing 3-year olds. The last dog on the left… Well, that's our dear, sweet, dumb girl Happy… No focus, looking off the trail and momentarily "gone mental" as Aliy calls it. If I had to guess, right now she is thinking "Squirrel!"

Every dog is an individual, every team is unique and every picture tells a story!