Monday, December 12, 2011

Dear Glory

We said goodbye to our dearest Glory on Saturday. Having a regrowth of a stage IV tumor, she lasted with good heart and happiness for 8 months following the original surgery. We miss her so much. She's been living in a pen close to the house since her surgery and has had a great time running free each day, revisiting her old pen occasionally. She is the last pup of our original Scuba, no more lineage back to Scuba and Tanni now. She had the savvy of her Iditarod veteran mother, Scuba and the sweetness of her recreational leader dog, Tanni. Scuba died of cancer in 1998, the year Glory was born. Tanni died last year from an accident on the road. Glory raced with me, in lead, in Nicolet Sprint and she, the deep snow dog, broke many trails at SPK over the years. Godspeed, Glory dear (or as I called her, Glory, Glory, Hallelujah).

Weather is not our friend so far this winter. December 12th and it's raining. There is snow cover and the trails have a base but a few more days of this and we'll be on square one. It's too icy to run the ATV, way too early for sleds (although they are in ready position).

Monday, November 21, 2011


We had a bit of wet snow over the weekend, just enough to be messy and it is warming up to 50 degrees on Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Whitetail deer, rifle opener, Michigan today; Wisconsin, Saturday

Rifle season for whitetail deer in Michigan (one mile away) starts at daybreak. Wisconsin season starts Saturday. We have posted the land, again, and see a blind nearby , just off the dog trails, so we're not going to be running trails for awhile. All dogs are ribboned with their orange, so hopefully it's a safe season for our dogs.

The beautiful young (think it's a two year old) buck hasn't been spotted since Saturday (seven points)... we hope he's just deep in hiding but bow season has been active out here. No one hunts on our land, it's an oasis in the midst of all the other hunting land surrounding us.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Winter at Summer Place

It hasn't been cold but we have had some snow, mostly the nonfunctional kind, although it will do the ground water a favor as it was wet and heavy. Today it will melt down, but we did use it for a trail base, so some of it should hold. We were overly enthusiastic getting the sleds out, but every winter prep is a good one.

We took a short trip to Marquette, MI yesterday and spotted what looked like a small wolf or large coyote booking across the four lane highway out of a wilder area outside of town.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Storms coming, here and in Alaska

The storm approaching the Bering Sea Coast sounds ominous, so we hope all of our Alaskan friends will stay safe and sound.

Wisconsin has a storm coming too, a predicted 5 to 9 inches, the first of the season. It could also come in the form of rain. Tomorrow we'll see.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Racing is On, Congratulations, Tanner!

Tanner, our helper/handler, raced another kennel's dogs in a two dog scooter dryland event today, placing second behind another friend of ours, Ken Castaldi, who took first place.
Congratulations, guys!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Three Teams Today

Give something to a busy kennel to do and it will get done. We ran three teams today, pretty smooth, and easy runs.... Dogs run were : Leader, Buffy, Ruthie, Eos; team and wheel, Kiddo,

Herman, Matilda, Rosie, Sherpa. Buffy is still trail leading, trying to go out the familiar gate and we've taken to going a different route, new trail, to get her to change that habit. Tanner Johnson was today's handler and sometimes driver, and he does a great job. Plus he cleaned the pens AND covered the pontoon, multitalented :)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

Just for fun : Nome webcam

This is the link to the Nome webcam...

Always interesting to see either the Bering Sea or the main street, the hours of daylight and the temps... sometimes quite comparable (temps) to Wisconsin.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A look back

Jenny with Scuba's pups, training for her first race. Scuba, T. Bear, Stardust and Geronimo.

This race started at minus forty degrees. We stood with our teams by the bank thermometer until it reached minus twenty before the race could start. That was a WI Trailblazers race in Land O'Lakes, WI. In 1994 we received Scuba and shortly thereafter her pups were born. We didn't know we would get into racing at that time, but Scuba patiently taught us as we stumbled along as novices.

She patiently pulled our large sled by herself as we took our first runs on Millie Hill. On our first run with her, we hit a boulder , dumping me. She was laughing, I'm certain, as she hightailed it back to the truck. There the well experienced dog just sat down and waited for me to hike back.Never was I more grateful to see a dog as she had miles she could have run in that vast land , but she had headed back to the truck.

Jenny Van Marter, skilled young horsewoman, was the first trainee at SPK . She arrived every day before going to her job , hooked up a four dog team, ran out toward Florence and returned. She was steadfast in her training as well which led to her first race being her first victory on sleds. Jenny now raises her children and horses, but she's welcome to come and run sleds again, any time.

The link to our first story on kennel history is the following:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Finally, weather to run

On Thursday we will run a nice team, eight or ten. Today was our veterinary visit with rabies vaccines and checks of a few dogs. All went smoothly. All running dogs have OK to run. Stay tuned for run photos.

Article published, thank you, Mallory!

Senior Correspondent has published an article about our life with retired racing sled dogs.
Our thanks to Mallory at Signal Hill for her shepherding of us through this process.
We hope the article might get others interested in giving lifetime homes to retirees... retirees with retirees .

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sand at Summer Place, Filling the Digs

All summer we let the dogs dig dens . They use them to avoid the heat, the flies and to play hide and seek with each other. Ruthie's was probably the winning den for this summer, no surprise.

Yesterday we had 15 yards of great sand delivered and placed for hauling today. At 8AM three strong young men arrived to spend the day hauling it by shovel and wheel barrow into the numerous pens. It also involved replacing houses. Great day, great team work.

Bottom to top, photos:

The day for shoveling started early.

One "Before" pile of sand with Jimmy, Tanner and Anthony.

Ruthie's den. (She isn't happy about it being filled today).

Midday on the "Before" pile. At end of day it was flat.

Jim ( 81), Jimmy (his grandson), Tanner and Anthony decide which houses need to be replaced.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fred Baker

Fred Baker was a kind and generous man. His life ended all too soon on the 17th, leaving behind
his dear son, Tim, Shanna and precious granddaughter, Josefina, his dear love, Beanie and his special dog, Button and an extended family. We were very lucky to know him. He loved riding the kennel trails. He loved his dog. Godspeed, Fred.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Eight dog team

This snow is last year's, but we expect some light stuff tomorrow. Eos and Zeus lead in this photo.

Our first eight dog team run with the quad will be:

Buffy, Ruthie, LEAD
Zeus, Eos SWING

Rosie, Matilda TEAM

Kiddo, Herman WHEEL

If we switch to a ten dog, we will fit in Yuki and Sherpa or Zoom.

Essentials: Straw and Sand

All in the name of winter readiness, we are beginning our annual straw bale count and filling the summer dens the dogs have dug. Today our helper, Jimmy, was greeted happily by each dog as he gave them freshly fluffed straw in each of their houses.

Zeus visited the doctor yesterday and received a clean bill of health, ready to run go ahead.
He couldn't be more ready, mentally after having been sidelined by his rock eating episode/surgery.

The dump truck will dish out sand tomorrow and Jimmy, Tanner and Anthony will diligently
haul it to fill the holes. They have some pretty incredible digs this year, their hideouts from the hot dry summer. Ruthie, the engineer of the bunch, continues to dig her den, just as the bears and wolves in the woods, preferring it to a house right now.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Trekking into fall

The leaves are falling now, recent high winds and rains helped them to take an early departure.

We are working on fall chores, waiting for sand and workers to fill holes in pens, fixing dog houses, fixing humans :), etc.

This past week has been in the 70's, 80 for five days straight, too warm for these eager huskies to run.

The sow with cubs has not been seen for awhile and we expect she's dug her den, although she would have been out in this heat.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Fall in the Air

The deer are eating the cherries dropping, the bucks are congregating, the dogs are revving up.

Fall is in the air and we are about to start running teams. Zeus has recovered from his rock eating surgery and is ready to relinquish his house dog role.

We have a nice group of run ready dogs.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Honoring Martin

Martin, veteran of the Yukon Quest, member of Aliy Zirkle's 2000 championship team, and father of great pups here at SPK left us peacefully and comfortably yesterday. It was sad to say farewell to such a sweet, strong, competent and loyal friend. We are honored to have shared his later years. He joins Skinny, Sierra, King and Balto in his resting spot, shaded by a birch tree with a view of our trails. Martin and Skinny were pups together in Aliy's kennel in Alaska.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Era: Skinny and Sierra

Skinny, gee haw command leader, Yukon Quest, and veteran of numerous middistance and sprint races, crossed the Rainbow Bridge this afternoon. Blinded by glaucoma, he put up a good fight to keep himself independent and ever happy. But this wonderful, honorable leader was becoming increasingly agitated by his circumstances and it was most humane to let him go with dignity and peacefully, wrapped in his gray blanket.

Sierra came to us 15 years ago having been found in a dumpster. She has been here since our first sled dog, Scuba, and has made it her mission to keep the kennel organized, on schedule and no nonsense. She was a mighty little leader along with her now deceased partner, Tanni. Recently she had had a lot of pain and discomfort, finding it very hard to even lie down, even with medication. She too deserved to go with honor, love and safety.

To send these two amazing dogs together today was incredibly difficult, painful and sad, but it also evoked so so many memories of all of their astute, very loyal and instinctive behaviors. We are all sad, dogs and humans, but are grateful for the opportunity to know and care for these dear friends.

Godspeed, Sierra and Skinny, dear friends.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Summer Blog, 2011

We are moving to our summer blog for 2011. The address is:

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Zeus recovering

Zeus swallowed three rocks that did not pass, requiring immediate gastrointestinal surgery. He's a
recovering house dog now and very obedient and sweet... we just want him better.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Zeus had surgery

Zeus had surgery yesterday following an xray showing rocks in his stomach. This is our first known rock eater, poor guy. We checked on him late day and they had retrieved three rocks and were about to finish the surgery. He stayed overnight and possibly again tonight.

He is a very sweet and good dog and we hope for his complete recovery. We will add him to

our house dog roster now and hope to fix up a rock less pen for him when he is able to return outside. Eos will miss her best buddy/brother as a pen partner.

Photo: Zeus, right in photo, Eos, left in photo.

Monday, April 25, 2011


We have a new helper, Tanner, who already knows the 'ropes' with dogs. He took out two teams for very short runs the other day which always makes the dogs happy. We hope he'll be here during the summer to work around the kennel. He hopes to race sprint next winter again.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Walk back in kennel time

In 1996 Jenny Van Marter came to SPK to train and race our dogs. She trained hard, used a heavy sled and went through all kinds of challenges to win her first race. It was minus forty at start time in Land O Lakes, so we had to wait until minus 20 for takeoff. She won the four dog class. Yesterday she sent us photos from that year which are so heartwarming. We had so many challenges as we learned together about sled dog racing. Jenny was a great sport and talented.

Photos of the original kennel dogs are precious. In the team photo it is Scuba and daughter,Stardust in lead; Scuba's sons, Geronimo and T. Rusty Bear in wheel. What a great lineage. Only Glory remains from that family in our kennel.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Beautiful sweet Balto

Balto, age fourteen, in this photo the pretty white and brown wheel dog, racing the Nicolet

Sprint, crossed the Rainbow Bridge today. We loved her great face and fur and feet and

spirit. One day she climbed two ten foot fences to get into another pen. She did almost hang

herself one day in a thunder storm, trying to scale the fence. Her back legs finally gave out on

her. On this team, Skinny and Glory in lead, Sulatna in wheel with Balto.

And more is coming

Six to ten inches of snow, possibly, tomorrow. After a weekend of heavy cleanup, here it comes again.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Still Winter

Yesterday started with ice rain building up into an inch of ice slush. The pens were a mess, tarps covered and frozen. After a day of cleaning up, the storm came back and this morning we have not only ice rain but new heavy wet icy snow, bending again all of the protective tarps. The dogs are quiet this morning. We've gone from loud wild thunderstorms and a few warm days back to winter. Maybe they think we skipped summer this year. The roads will be treacherous again this morning as I wind my way two miles down the road to my son's to care for his animals while they are out of town. If I can speak for the dogs, they say 'enough already'. Daylight is about half an hour away and the wind is wild right now. A year ago at this time we were enjoying wildflowers. Three of the older dogs are showing strain on their back legs, Balto, particularly.

Photos before the ice and snow:

Impression from Sierra lying on the frosty grass.

Apache, son's dog, taking a trail stroll with me and his ball.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Trail Erosion

On April 1st we declared our trails unsafe for any further dog team travel. We've rec'd snow since then but the trails are still not safe , especially now that we are again in a meltdown , of sorts. The ice has eroded and mud holes take its place. SLOPPY is the description for all out here.

Friday, April 1, 2011


It's a bit like watching a pot boil, spring meltdown. If you watch it, it takes forever. We, who love snow, have given in and agreed it's time for it to melt down for yet another year. Last night we shoveled and tossed buckets of water from pens, but chopping drains once again frozen is

a bit more difficult. This last refrozen ice is stubborn about melting. Maybe today? but then again comes snow/ice rain in the forecast. We just have to wait.

Monday, March 28, 2011


Our trails are still 'there', but ice and grass patches, not for safe travels. We've had a couple of below zero nights in last week, but meltdown will be active with days in 40's this week. Don't think we'll make our record of usable trails until April 9th, but we'll see.

We have a new young handler interested in summer work, the dogs will love him. In the meantime, it's that transition time of year.

Photo: Buddy (14) and his deer pals.

Straw bale count: about 50 for the winter, down from last year, milder winter this year, but we'll still be raking up 50 bales.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Coveted, well deserved awards to Aliy and Allen

SPKennel, Aliy Zirkle and Allen Moore won two awards this year, possibly the most coveted
of all... Aliy the Seppala Humanitarian Award, the second time she's won this prestigious best dog care award, and Allen the Sportsmanship award for literally saving Karin Hendrickson's
ice when she was suffering from hypothermia on the sea ice... he hooked her sled, dogs and all
to his and took them to the checkpoint, White Mountain. SP Kennel, Two Rivers, Alaska
represents the very highest standards in mushing with dogs. No wonder their dogs love them!!
(and we love their dogs :)

More lightning and thunder!

Is it the super moon? Last night the dogs endured a second round of thunder and lightning.
We brought Lillen inside as she would not eat or drink. The display of lightning was like fireworks, lighting up the snow and resounding , almost like echoes. I did walk out to check
and the dogs settled down to see me walking in it. Now we're expecting 8 inches of snow...
feels like Mother Nature has a lot of fury this spring.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


While we can still say we have a trail, it is partially melted down and ice. Seems like the winter went by way too fast. And today I'm 70, wow! aging as fast as the snow is melting!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Thunderstorm, Hail, Meltdown

After a very warm, sixty degree afternoon of meltdown and messy pens draining mud and straw, we had an unseasonal thunderstorm with lightning and hail. Lillen, who has rules,
pouted in her house, clearing expressing that the storm was not within her expectations. She rallied an hour or so after the storm.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Aliy finishes in 11th

Glad to see Aliy Zirkle finish in 11th into Nome. On the final stretch onto Front Street, she passed Dee Dee Jonrowe. There had been a photo finish just prior with Ken Anderson seizing
9th place over Jesse Royer who then placed tenth. Aliy's dogs looked happy and healthy
and they charged toward the arch. Great year, Aliy. It was her second best finish time, in a fast year. John Baker beat Martin Buser's record time by three hours, which shows how fast the trails were.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wintersong, Glory, lead soloist

Glory leads the song in the first pen as she heals from her surgery.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Hopscotching Mushers

It's great to watch this year's race and the leaderboard keeps hopscotching... right now Buser
shows to be in 'lead' out of Nikolai but there is a pileup of mushers into Nikolai, some who have
camped enroute, so the leaders will change again soon.

At home we took Glory in for a check up today, they left her surgical drain in. And, we discovered a tumor on Frita... not a good year for dogs, but mostly aging related illnesses.
Frita will get her turn at surgery soon.

Iditarod, Day Two and all

Iditarod is fast with good trails right now. Aliy is in/out of Rainy Pass and into Rohn. Allen
is out of Rainy Pass. Mackey and Neff are just six miles ahead of her at this moment.

And we are about to get dumped on with heavy , wet snow, six or more inches. Glory goes
to the vet today to have her tube removed and then we will start to tame snow, hopefully.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Iditarod Commentary, Joe Runyan

Alaska Dispatch has Joe Runyan doing commentary,
Only thing I don't like about Joe is that he tends to see only males in his observations!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Iditarod Watch

Bib numbers were drawn at the Musher Banquet last night in Anchorage, for the Iditarod Start.
Aliy Zirkle drew bib no. 18 and husband, Allen Moore, drew bib no. 5. We'll be watching the race via GPS Tracker on

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Update, Glory

Beautiful Glory's tumor report came back, not good... hemangiosarcoma, grade 3, aggressive. As I write this she is singing her beautiful multitoned howl in the pen next to the house. Her prognosis is not positive, but her personality is an A plus. The kennel's happiest dog is how our veterinarian classifies her. We love you, Glory, sing on!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Sled Dog Racing Super Bowls

Egil Ellis' team won the Open World Championships in Anchorage's Fur Rendezvous. Egil's
former winning leader, Mike, is father of our fantastic Zeus and Eos . Mike was also Egil's main stud for years. We're happy to be giving Zeus and Eos a happy retirement home and they had
a great winter of running .

And now we watch Iditarod, the Start is on this upcoming Saturday in Anchorage at As always, we are following Aliy Zirkle and Allen Moore . Their blog will be updated during the race and Aliy will be carrying a video cam on her sled.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Well, today would have been our Florence race. Rob and the team were well ready for it.
But the snow exited and turned to ice and mud. At least the dogs had a great winter of
running, hooray!

This interim period that isn't quite winter, not quite spring is a bit boring for the dogs.
They do get their free runs in the mornings IF it is not too icy. If I see a dog slip, the morning
free runs are canceled. Some of them just run laps in their pens, Eos is one so we try to
keep that straw covered for safety.

The truck still sits at the base of the driveway as even the drive is too
icy to navigate. Walks are limited for house dogs. Even the deer find this ice challenging and
feeding them is only accomplished by sliding down the rather steep incline. Hauling dog food is also a bit difficult. Today we'll attempt to get it out of the truck by sliding the snowmo next to the truck without smashing into it.

Last night we saw a dusting of snow, first in quite awhile, not enough to ease the slippery conditions but cleaner looking at least.

Iditarod starts on Saturday and the Fur Rendezvous is on now in Anchorage. Quite a contrast, looking at the competing teams of the Rondy running down Anchorage streets with stoplights and trucks versus the wide open spaces of Alaska's Iditarod. Watching both of these races
brightens our interim days! Cheering for Aliy Zirkle and Allen Moore and their wonderful dogs!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Rob's Tsunami Team

Tsunami is an unassuming wheel dog who is well appreciated by the drivers who have him pulling uphill.
The ice trails stay icy and running would be dangerous. Glory had surgery two days ago
for a tumor on her shoulder, for which we'll await biopsy results. She's singing to us
right now in her recovery pen, sounds reminiscent of her mother, Scuba.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Again, weather.

The Florence race is canceled, the trails are either gravel or ice. Our trails still mostly have a snow base covered with ice and a few bare spots. The projected storm of 4 to 8 inches did not
show up, so it's another week of icy life. We go through this every spring, but this isn't spring!

Disappointed dogs watch me as I gingerly clean pens with my Yaktrax on my feet. It's hard to let them even free run as they slip and slide.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Fierce Winds, Full Moon, for UP 200 Takeoff

The wind is howling like a banshee, gusting , the windchimes are clanging, the dogs are very quiet. We watched the UP 200 takeoff, trails will be mixed, punchy, icy, temp is plus twenty
but windchills (some winds up to 72mph!) will be lower. The full moon is like a very large lantern in the sky, beautiful for the mushers.

Took a few photos as dogs and I took a pre bedtime walk. Our driveway is lethally icy, no traction whatsoever. Our trails are icy but passable. Our race for next weekend has been
canceled, officially... and Sunday we are expecting 8 inches of snow, go figure!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


The past few weeks have been a bit intense with a bit of everything winter can bring.
Trails have stayed good up until now, where we've now turned to ice, with rain expected and higher temps later this week. Current 5AM temp is 27 degrees.
Photos show a few of our dog and human adventures in past few weeks. Rob has continued his steady, good training for the upcoming sprint race. Will we have a trail? we hope so! We've looked over the map and it's familiar running territory for several of our dogs, including, Buffy, Kiddo and Ruthie. Buffy continues to have the ever ready memory of a trail leader... sometimes surprising us with a sharp turn into deep snow where the trail ran BEFORE. Rob handles it.

We had two beginners on sleds this past weekend (Ray and Cindy) and each did very well. We love promoting the gentle sport of running with dogs.