Saturday, November 16, 2013

Sweet Rosie

Sweet Rosie ran and led a great trail run with her buddies on Tuesday night.  We posted the photo of her happy run.  On Thursday we had to take her in to the animal hospital.  She's been there until this morning on IV support.  I just went in to see her and we decided she just couldn't make it anymore, so Rosie has crossed the Rainbow Bridge.   Her intestines were her problem .

We loved that little free spirited fox like girl.  She was the fastest dog in the kennel.  She liked nothing better than to race her sister, Buffy, and win (which she usually did).

She's a big part of the heart of our kennel, too, so we're busy at patching our heart this afternoon.

Godspeed, Rosie!! Thank you for all you are.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Getting our miles

Because we can't run from November 15 to December 1st, we are getting miles every way we can.
We've been taking different groups on late afternoon trail runs, hoping to not meet the skunks and porcupines that are still hanging around.
On a trail ride earlier today (no dogs), I did see a coyote barreling through, but couldn't catch him in a photo.
We've never had a negative encounter with a coyote and dogs although we have had them cross our path several times.
We may still trail walk into the weekend, although Michigan hunters are only one mile away.  We don't want any dogs to panic at a rifle shot and run out the gate, so we're going to be locked up . 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Snow showers move us back to our SPK winter blog.

We've had spotty accumulation of snow and beautiful snow showers the past few days.  The dogs have
beautiful winter coats coming in and lots of energy for running.  We are back to giving their afternoon soup for hydration (which they love).

As we head into what is probably our last winter of sled dog running, we have fifteen great dogs.
If you want to schedule a run, be sure to let us know early.

There is a 4 dog race that we are keeping an eye on, possibly to enter a team.  We have to get miles on dogs and humans first.

This year's runners are:  Navy, Eos (limited), Ruthie, Buffy, Rosie, Herman, Yuki, Swix, Zoom, Kiddo (limited) and Yeti . Copper, Ruby and Yo will be cheerleaders, along with Boss, the cat.  We hope to have another kennel race, similar to last year's... same rules, same trails.

Sunday, May 19, 2013 Our Summer Blog

Now that we can see grass and blossoms and snow is mostly gone, we are moving to our summer blog.
This year the link is :
Please join us there for our reports on our dogs and the local wildlife.   Currently we still have two baby foxes living under our largest outbuilding.  Stay tuned.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Spring Straw

In the winter we generously distribute straw to keep each and every dog warm and dry.  In the spring we have to remove ALL of that straw since it draws insects, weeds, burrowing critters, etc.   The pitching and hauling is a huge effort .  This year Tanner Johnson and Anthony Kligis are the straw haulers.  Quite a few teens have earned spring spending money in the past 20 years of the kennel, hauling straw.  It's a huge project.  They finished five pens today, seven pens to go.

Baby Foxes

Monday, May 6, 2013

Last Snow?

We hope our last snow and ice for this winter was on May 3rd... we hope!  The rivers are flooding from runoff now, but birds and even hornets abounded yesterday in sunshine and high 70's for temps.

We still haven't been able to rake straw out of pens , with its recent ice encrusting.   Yesterday Tanner did get to rake straw out of the shed, taking 11 loads away.  That is just the beginning of very late spring chores.

The annual (we hope it's only once) run in with a porcupine occurred when a helper let Zoom and Sherpa out.  They ran off for 8 hours and returned to us with faces full of quills.  Zoom spent the night in the clinic and Sherpa is still sporting a sore foot.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Latest trails, April 22nd, still intact, but raining

April showers are pouring down on the intact dog trails at SPK.  Dogs are wet, everything is wet.  Nice hot soup is still an afternoon treat that is well received.   The 60's are expected on Saturday.  Long overdue.
As much as I don't like hot weather, it's enough already of winter.  Bears have been in their dens for 7 months.  See:

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Still Snow Cover

We are looking at full snow cover on trails and fields, April 20th.  Area lakes are still frozen.  Ice fishermen are happy.  Dogs are puzzled.  Humans are a bit tired of snow and more snow.  We purchased a record number of straw bales this year.   Driving just 15 miles south we see grassy areas.   Lilacs, when will you blossom?  I'm guessing June 10th, a month late.

Friday, April 12, 2013

April Snow, Latest Trails Ever

Copper sat sadly on the front porch this morning.  He was excited to go out until he saw the snow, deep snow.  We haven't lost our trails before today and now we have added snow to keep them intact for a bit longer.   Prior to this, the latest we ever had ribbons of trails was April 9th.   This winter just wants to hang on... April 12.2013.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter Sunday, 2013

We received quite a bit of wet, concretelike snow on Saturday, March 30, added to our at least one foot base of snow... quite different from a year ago when we were already hauling straw out of the pens.
For Easter Sunday morning we had more snow flurries and wind.   It didn't dampen Josefina's enthusiasm for the Easter Bunny trail and we had a wonderful Easter celebration together.
The dogs are taking this late spring in stride, but they would prefer running out on the trails.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Beautiful Buddy

Buddy, a beautiful, dignified, strong minded, tough, gentle, quiet dog crossed the rainbow bridge yesterday at age 16.
He had been failing in health for quite some time, but up until yesterday he was out and about with us each day, guiding us in our daily chores.
Buddy came to us as a rescue in 2004.  He had come from Alaska with a UP 200 musher and had been placed in a U.P. home, hopefully to run as a retiree.   But it didn't work out and we were asked to take him, which we gladly did.
Buddy was bred by Raymie Redington and his pedigree is very nice.  He goes back to a line that we also had in Liller and is now in our youngest, Sherpa.  At times he would look, to me, as if he had some Great Dane in him... the prominent ears, the set of his jaw, the quiet but strong/gentle personality, perhaps some
Harlequin markings. It is hard to capture his brilliant blue eyes in a photo, but they were striking.
He did run in teams with us and was SO proud when we hooked him up in his early years with us.  But his aging bones/structure caused us to retire him from running.   His main job was to live with and be a companion to Ruthie.  He took it seriously and every morning presents himself to herd her when she free runs.  Ruthie will miss him very much.  I will miss him very much.
Buddy is a great example of why it is so rewarding to take a dog needing rescue.  Although he came to us with mange and infected teeth, the excellent medical care he received from IMAH put him on the road to an
active life for another 9 years!  Wow, yea, Buddy!   Godspeed, dearest friend.

Photos:    Buddy
               Buddy with Copper, waiting to assist with morning feeding.
               Buddy awaiting Ruthie's free run.
               Buddy in his pretty red coat.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Kind of fun!

Images of Riverboat Discovery Tours - Attraction Pictures
This photo of Riverboat Discovery Tours is courtesy of TripAdvisor

I don't know if this photo will post but will try.  We love to find photos of our retired dogs in their former lives.   Here is one with Navy in it, can you find him?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Kennel Race Complete, All Winners

We had a great time in February and March, choosing teams, hooking up dogs, teaching beginners to drive sleds and some of the beginners participating in the kennel race.   BTW, we got the idea for a kennel race while reading Aliy Zirkle's blog... they had a full out race with their handlers and mushers.  We're a bit more limited here, but with 17 dogs and 9 participants we had a nice little race, giving good experience to everyone.   Our main goal was to keep it fun and safe and to give the dogs more running time.  The dogs were very enthusiastic and happy to be doing it.  The winning dogs were:  Navy, Ruthie, Rosie, Eos,
Buffy, Kiddo, Yuki, Herman and Sherpa.  Yea, good dogs!


Best overall time for 4 and 6 dogs teams:  Tie :  Tanner Johnson and David Loomis, 6:41

6 dog times:
Tanner Johnson:  7:35; do over, 6:41
Katie Richard, 9:00

4 dog times:
David Loomis, 6:41
Shanna Cade, 6:55
Mary Lee Riddle,  7:17
Adam Loomis (3 dogs), 8:22

1 dog, child under six
Josefina Cade (!)

2 dog, youth over six
Cole Sweig,  3:59
Ethan Sweig, 4:57

Congratulations to all participants.  Thanks for joining our kennel race.  Thanks to Tim Cade for grooming
and regrooming the trails so they'd be race ready.  Prizes will be distributed soon.  Every participant receives a bandanna as shown below.  Copper, Iditarod, 2006, models the race bandanna with Tanner Johnson.  Tanner and David Loomis tied for best time overall, 4 and 6 dogs.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Cheers to Aliy Zirkle and Allen Moore, Iditarod 2013

What a tremendous race was run by Aliy Zirkle and her red team of SPKennel dogs, and Allen Moore's black team, with the younger SPK Dogs.   It is a pleasure and privilege to be able to follow their kennel's success.   We are in awe of their dedication, professionalism, especially their great dog care and their continued energy to make SPKennel the premier sled dog kennel in the dog world today.  Cheers from our kennel in Wisconsin.

We took this photo in McGrath in 2001, Iditarod.   Ray Redington, Jr.'s team is in front,
his white leader , Tommy, sleeping .  Behind is Aliy's team, that at the time had a bad
case of kennel cough.   Doug, her father, is standing behind the team.  Our small travel group
somewhat adopted these two teams as we watched the Iditarod unfold.  Adopt in the sense that
while we couldn't help we could observe and care about these dogs.   I can see Martin in this photo, who Aliy later brought to us to live out his life.   He even raced in the Jackpine 30 with Julia one year and took us so competently on many safe runs; strong, muscular, so competent Martin.  Martin
then fathered pups with Aliy's dog, Frita, who also came to retire here.  Their pups that are still with us are:  Yo, Yuki, Swix, Yeti and Zoom, all sweet, tough, smart dogs.  We appreciate so much this

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Avidly Following Iditarod

While the temperature is in the thirties with bright sun, blue sky, here in Wisconsin, and our dogs are sunbathing, wishing for sunglasses, we can't help but wonder how the seriously working Iditarod sled dogs are doing today in Alaska.  They are expecting up to 50 degrees on some parts of the trail today.  And I don't know how the predicted high winds have factored in the race, but we'll find out soon enough.

Aliy is looking very good in what I see to be the top three going into Iditarod checkpoint.   The first four in have had very long journeys... 13, 14, even 16 hours, so that can mean they camped or the snow is so punchy from heat that they trudged, or probably combos of various things in the inclement race weather.  There are two in that mix who haven't finished their 24's as she has, so I think she is seated at 2 or 3 right now.

It's a race and it still has 700 miles or so, so we'll settle in and obsess a bit about it.

Photo from a camping trip with Aliy, sister, Kaz, Julie and Eunice.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The dogs are the teachers

Yesterday we had the opportunity to again watch our dogs in action, teaching beginners about sled driving.

We go over the basics of sled control, safety routines,  various bits of informational info about driving a sled and being with sled dogs.   The trails are groomed ahead of time.  The dogs are selected for their ability to require minimal handling by inexperienced drivers.  We very seldom start beginners with more than 4 dogs,
usually 3 or 4, infrequently 5.

The chosen teachers yesterday were Ruthie, age 11, lead;  Buffy, age 11, lead/wheel;  Herman, age 9, wheel;
Zoom, age 9, team/wheel;  Kiddo, age 11, wheel; Navy, age 10.5, lead; Sherpa, age 9, lead/wheel; Yuki, age 9, wheel.  With our kennel of aging dogs our depth of field is shorter now.  Some of the dogs ran with 4 teams yesterday.  Only two of those dogs have not had race experience , either with us or elsewhere.  In their hearts they ARE racing, so sled control is important.

With beginners we also don't do much with commands, although we do tell them Gee./Haw/On By/ No and
Whoa!   It is our experience that the pace is so quick at takeoff that the most important thing is sled control and we focus on how to do that.  The dogs know our trails so well that they'll be pretty much 'push button' to go the usual route. The driver's job is to keep the sled under control for their own safety and desired speed.  We ask them to not let them run full out.  Yesterday we wanted to take a fresh trail so I led the teams on the Skandic, giving the commands and they took the turns as the pros they are.   I can stay far enough ahead to stay out of their way, but I can also slow down to keep the dogs slower.

The beginners also learn the basics of handling dogs:  bringing them to the picket line, harnessing enthusiastic dogs who are wild to run (watch your teeth and eyes);  leading them to the gangline and hooking them up;
releasing the quick release;  jumping on a machine to follow and be ready to assist a team with a problem.

Photos later.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Following Iditarod

It's time to follow the annual Iditarod sled dog race that travels from Anchorage, AK to Nome, AK, over mountain ranges, down frozen rivers, out on the frozen sea, into Nome.   The mushers and dogs who run this race have been training long and hard.  Our personal favorites are Aliy Zirkle and Allen Moore, SPKennel, Two Rivers, AK.

We have subscribed, again, to the GPS tracking of mushers at   Last year was VERY exciting as we could see Aliy in 1st position most of the way, vying with Dallas Seavey for first and second.
Aliy runs the number one team from their kennel in Iditarod and Allen runs the younger dogs, getting them race trained.   Allen just won the 1000 mile Yukon Quest in February with many of the dogs who will be on Aliy's team.  Rosters will be posted the morning of the race at their blog,   It is THE best place to learn about Iditarod and the sport of dog sledding done right.

Photo shows my son, Mike, and several of Aliy's uncles/friends waiting for Aliy to come through Finger Lake
checkpoint one year.

We personally want to wish  Aliy, Allen, the SPKennel great dogs and all of the mushers well in this year's
great race.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Kids' Day at Summer Place

Photo: Jennifer Loomis, Tanner Johnson,
six year old, A.J., Yuki, Kiddo (wheel), readying for A.J.'s ride with 4 dogs.

Adam Loomis negotiates the fast curve in the pines.

Adam's three dog team coming out of the loop.  Ruthie, Buffy, Herman.

First time driver, Cole, has a smooth run with Navy and Ruthie speeding along.

David looking like a pro with great four dogs,
Navy, Ruthie, Sherpa and Rosie.

 A.J. confidently says, " I had 4 dogs so I'm a pro! "   Tanner said A.J. cheered the dogs on the whole way.  I even had a chance to leap on the team
as they negotiated deep snow on a turn.

Ethan, first time driver, looks good going
home with his two dogs, Ruthie and Buffy.

 Timers and Moms, Jenny and Jennifer compare timers for Ethan's run.  Tanner was the handler for all teams yesterday.

Great handlers at the gate to turn the dogs for the beginners, Kevin, David and Adam turning Tanner's team with rider, A.J.

 Out of the pines to the climb uphill.

Tanner with precious cargo.

Tanner's 4 dog heading home.
A big thank you to Tim for chopping all the gates from the big snow and dragging all of the trails.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Trails and Snowbirds

Tim groomed the trails yesterday so they are in top notch condition...wide and packed with safe turns.
He also changed some gate latches on pens for the busy dogs who can get out with the higher snow levels
(nose the latch and out they come).  The snow birds are here in flocks lately (not sure of their scientific name).  They flutter  over the deer , all white bellies, looking very beautiful in the sunny and snowy landscape.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

-18 this morning

The roller coaster that is winter is rolling on.   This morning it is minus 18 but promises to warm to
plus 16 by afternoon.  Tomorrow it will be in the mid thirties.   This takes a bit of a toll on the dogs,
up/down and not to mention on the human.... chopping iced gates after a rain /freeze has been a constant.   The dogs can maneuver out of the gates if they aren't chopped, so on goes the chop chop.

This morning we were expecting racers but sounds like they might want to reschedule due to the temps, not sure.

Thanks to visitor, Marty, for freeing up the chain in the track of the Skandic yesterday... in his suit and tie, no less.   Our main machine for chasing teams, grooming trails and hauling, we'd be without it this morning if he and Talia  hadn't stopped to visit.

Photo:  Granddaughter, Fina, awaits the hookup of her mother's team for kennel race.
We hookup to the pole and the machines are ready for takeoff to follow the musher.