Friday, April 24, 2015

Meanwhile back at the Kennels

The snow is melting fast in Alaska, even quite a ways north. It was in the 50s in Fairbanks today. That means even the tail end of the mushing season is over for another year. Dogs still will run a little bit, usually hitched to an ATV or cart but many get to loaf more. New litters arrive and some kennels send part of their team off to take visitors on rides, perhaps sleding on the glaciers or demonstrating for travelers on the cruise ships and train and bus tours. In short, lots is still going on.

SP Kennel had an update recently on the Survivor Five which includes my beloved Ginger. Poor baby, in March she had a serious digestive problem and had to have intestinal surgery to fix it. However she is healing well and seems on the road to total recovery, now well enough to share space with an older dog for some milder play than her four rowdy brothers would allow. With Aliy and the others, I am hoping and praying fervently that she will be able to be in harness come the fall and catch up for the time she has missed due to this problem. She shows great promise and is a brave, tough and determined girl!

I lifted this photo off the SPK blog. That is Ginger with her uncle Biscuit, and it's hard to believe she was the little fuzzy scrap Aliy was holding to show me last August! They grow so fast. I think Ginger weighs about 42 pounds now. This shot is just about where she was that day, too, the enclosure called The Play Pen!

The four "boys" are going great guns, three of them getting to be big dogs near the fifty pound range which is large for the SPK lines.  Of course their daddy Clyde is one of the larger males where their mommy Chica is about the average in the lower 40s range. Ernie and Ginger are smaller but Scooby, Rodney and Five are all big stout guys. I know we will hear more of them in the future. I'm also looking forward to whatever litters arrive this summer and hope to be there to see some of them.

I'm working on a kind of table with some canine genealogy of the SPK kennels stars. If I can find data on some of the other kennels' lines, I will attempt to do the same for them but SPK is so generous with their info and sharing about the dogs we all love so much that they make it easy.

I am still pursuing a goal of a brief visit to Alaska in early summer to meet a new pen pal who may be helping me with a place to stay and some other assistance and to set up some projects for later. Then I intend to go again probably about mid September when the tourist season is nearly over and the mushers are in from summer jobs to begin the serious training season. I've added more names to the list of women I want to meet and talk to and would love to contact every one who ran in the Iditarod and the Yukon Quest this year or signs up for the 2016 races! Wish me luck!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

A Look toward the Next Generation

Two fun and fabulous bits of news appeared in recent days on the SP Kennel website/blog that made me smile. First, the five pups that I call "the survivors" were recently in harness and running for short distances with some of the older dogs before the snow disappears! This was very exciting to me. I watched a video clips of first Rodney and Scooby and then Ernie and Five in the positions closest to the sled as Aliy began their training. She said that Ginger was not as rowdy as her four brothers but that she too was being 'broken in' and there would be pictures soon. I can hardly wait! The boys are rangy and very active furkids, promising to be power house dogs.

As you may know, these puppies were just a couple of weeks old--eyes open and getting around but still very much babies when I visited last summer. Shortly after that I learned that the original litter had consisted of nine pups but a strange virulent infection hit and four of them did not make it. That is why I call these five The Survivors and feel they are both especially hardy and very blessed to have made it and be growing up into promising future champs. The parents, Clyde and Chica, both ran in this years' big races and are exceptional dogs. Chica is a full sister to Quito, the outstanding lead dog who brought Aliy's team into three superb second place finishes. I'll snag portraits of them off the SPK site to share before long as I do plan more posts on the SP dogs and bloodlines.

Anong the now two year olds, there are eleven pups from a 2013 litter produced by Nacho, full litter brother to Chica and Quito, with Olivia, another exceptional female dog in the SPK group. They are called the "fire" litter and most have related names.  Now also entering the regular pack are another eleven pups from a 2013 match of Quito and Biscuit, mostly with golf-related names. The SP folk --and other Husky breeders it seems--tend to get a theme for naming a litter to help keep them straight as to year and parents. More on these twenty two dogs shortly but as you can see, large litters are not rare.

The other item was news from a weekend mushers' event held at Two Rivers, AK where SPK is located and a number of other lesser known mushers live to including Sebastian Schnuelle who blogged from the trail on this year's Iditarod but has run the race in the past. this time Aliy and Allen did not compete but served as race marshals, dog handlers and Jack/Jackie of all relevant trades. There were fun races for small kids, juniors and adults. The kid's race was won by the grandson of Allen and Aliy, a five year old, driving two seasoned SPK dogs on his small sled! He sure beamed when he got the medal and grandpa and grandma looked pretty happy too.

Now Aliy, like me, got her kids "second hand and house broke" with her marriage but grandkids are 'yours' no matter what.  I could see the pride and joy in her expression. It's great to see a new generation coming along and taking up this fine sport. That was a feature of the Jr. Iditarod which made it special to me. I hope we'll see this young man with such deep mushing roots racing for real in a decade or so.  The circles of life go on which is very heartening.