Saturday, June 7, 2014

Copper, a special special dog

Each of our dogs is very special to us.   In all of the dogs we've had, Copper found a very special place in our hearts.   He was quiet and kind, yet he ran the place.  He knew our schedule as well as we did.  In the morning, after he was fed, he would sit on the front porch awaiting time to feed everyone.  He went from pen to pen with me, in the right order, every day.   Then when it was time to clean, he again went from pen to pen.  He herded and guarded everyone.
He knew after I showered that I often ran errands.  When I would be almost ready to leave, he'd sit by the front door awaiting his treat.  Then he'd sleep until I came home.  My favorite story of Copper was the day he came from nowhere, when I called him, to intercept aged Lillen as she ran toward the highway.   She just didn't know she couldn't do it, many cars were zipping back and forth.  Copper ran out and headed her off, leading her back to the kennel.  I think she thought she was in a race, and that she had won.  The ever so polite Copper let her go in the gate, first.
He was my Superman and my best friend.  I really don't know what to do without him awaiting me in the house or on the porch.  He enhanced our lives in so many ways.   We say, Godspeed dearest Copper.
You are a very special special dog.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Happy Birthday, Navy and all SPK Dogs!

Happy 12th birthday to Navy, d.o.birth, June 1, 2002.

Date of Birth            SPK Dog                   Age 2014

2.24.02                    Ruthie                         12 years

2.24.02                    Kiddo                         12 years

2.24.02                    Buffy                           12 years

6. 1.02                     Navy                           12 years

6.4.03                      Herman                        11 years

6.21.03                    Copper                        11 years

9.3. 03                     Swix                             11 years

9.3.03                      Yuki                              11 years

9.3.03                      Yo                                11 years

9.3.03                      Yeti                              11 years

9.3.03                       Zoom                          11 years

12.4.04                     Sherpa                         10 years

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Back to summer blog

Our summer blog is at:

We will update our summer activities there.  Please visit us.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ruby, sweet Ruby, 2002-2014

Ruby was easily the happiest dog at Summer Place Kennel.   Born February 2, 2002, she was the daughter of Liller (Butcher ) and Skinny (Louden, Zirkle), a wonderful litter.   Her litter siblings are/were:  Ruthie, Buffy, Kiddo and Quattro.   They were an energetic bunch from the beginning and had many, many great runs and races .  Ruthie, Buffy and Kiddo survive.

Early on, Ruby and Ruthie entertained a sort of rivalry, which translated each morning to fence sparring.   As soon as either would be out for her free run, they would run to the other's pen and bark, bark, bark.   Yesterday we watched them spar for the last time and as sick as she was, Ruby was enthusiastic and happy in her morning visit to Ruthie.

Ruby and Martin lived together for a long time.  When Martin died, Ruby was lost, so in moved Yo, Martin's neutered son.   They, too, have lived together for a long time.  Yo paid tribute to her in a very long solo howl yesterday.  He seems to be mourning her loss .  Each day they would vie for the larger house, and each day he gave in to her.   After her loss yesterday, he just laid by the smaller house, waiting for her to take the big one.

We can't know what's in their hearts, but we do know we all miss that little happiest spitfire that was Ruby.

Godspeed, dear Ruby.   Rest in gentle peace, next to your dear protector, Martin.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

And, again, more snow

The temperatures have modified, but we did have minus teens earlier this week.  Today a mix of snow and rain is predicted to bring yet another accumulation of 2 to 4 inches of snow by days' end.  We had five teams out running on Saturday and could run more this weekend.

Gardeners and golfers are wondering how long the snow banks will take to melt, but we winter lovers are still happy with snow depths.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Winter, 2014

We've had great running during winter, 2014.   The first part of the winter the snow came in deluges, but was not good packing snow, making it hard to put in trails.  Now , in late March, we have the best trails of the year.   We still have great snow depth.  (If you love spring and summer, you've had enough!)

Friday, March 14, 2014

March Madness, Alaska Style

Photo credit:   Photo of Aliy, 2014, leaving White Mountain;  we shared this from a media site but not sure if it's Jeff Schultz or a newspaper.
And, that is what this year's Iditarod seemed to be, a bit of madness.  The weather and conditions were highly challenging , maybe life threatening.   The top 3 wrestled for their positions, only to see Jeff King scratch just before Safety, a victim of howling, driving winds tossing his sled and dogs about like matchsticks.   Aliy charged forward only to discover that Jeff didn't beat her to Safety.   Snowmachiners gave her a report that their sleds (heavier) were being tossed and tipped, so she elected to stay in Safety for a bit.

Dallas Seavey , thinking he was running for 3rd, since he did not see Jeff or Aliy, hightailed it into Nome to actually win the race.  Aliy was in hot pursuit and the time differential of 2 minutes and 22 seconds, meant Aliy actually gained 17 minutes on him in that final run.

No one knows better than the mushers how well they did out there, to make it to Nome!  We, fans, are out here in awe and admiration, hearing story after story about the insanity that the weather brought.

Now just ten teams are out on the trail.  There will enough stories from this race to write a book about just this race, 2014, Iditarod.   It is a testament to the hard training and planning that the mushers have done for the past months, in conditioning their dogs and themselves, to take on what must be described as a beating.

Low to no snow, sheer ice, downhill through the Gorge bouncing off of rocks and stumps, etc, the challenges just never ended.  Aliy Zirkle said that one could hope each day would get better, but every day got worse... it was the worst ever.  Well, she ran a tremendous race, exercising good judgment and finishing in second.
I loved her answer when asked about the last three years in second... she said, "it's better than scratching!"
much to the delight of the crowd listening to her.  Well, it certainly is, wow, Aliy!  Second in Iditarod , any year, is fantastic.  This year it's mind boggling.   Go, Aliy and dogs!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Over the hill

We had fun taking photos of teams on the hills.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Friday, February 14, 2014

Eos, tough gee haw command leader, gentle force

Eos will be 15 in May, 2014.   She's been ill for the past two weeks, with nausea and refusing to eat.
We took her in today to  determine what we can for her to keep her comfortable.  She has a mass in her throat which is too far down to see without using anesthesia.   We decided to just do what we can to keep her comfortable.  The doctor gave her an injection of antibiotics to last for 14 days, a Vitamin B injection to enhance her appetite and an injection for nausea.  She was not too happy about the injections, but she was glad to get back in the truck and to return to her small 'apartment' in the living room.

Eos has run Iditarod several times and it's fascinating to know her.  We wish she could talk.  In 2007 she was on the team that Susan Butcher's daughter, Honorary Musher that year, drove to Nome.   We have a great photo of her coming to the finish line in Nome.  She's a small dog with great feet.  Her brother was Zeus and her nephew is Navy.   She is also a cousin to Copper. She is out of  Huslia (Butcher) and Mike (Ellis.)

Mostly she is a very tough and completely focused gee haw command leader and a gentle force in our kennel.  She pulled my then five year old granddaughter last year and they appeared together on

All in all, tonight our nicest Valentine gift is to have Eos home and resting peacefully.

Eos and Copper; Eos and Zeus; Eos and Navy;  Eos and Josefina;  Eos in lead on Linda's team, with Navy and Buffy.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Unusual winter

Because it has been a winter of unusual extremes and more snow than in recent years, we've added some comforts to each dog's pen.   It has mostly been cold and windy, low windchills, sometimes heavy snow,  fewer times, icy rain.   The trails that aren't groomed are deep and will grab a snowmachine and drag it in.

The extra comforts are :  straw bale blocking wind from house door; tarp overhead to protect dog and straw from icy rains; windscreen tarps on fences;  coats on dogs who won't eat them.  Fresh straw in houses each time the windchill takes a dive.

Photos of pens:
Kiddo's pen
Buffy's and Herman's pen
Yeti's pen

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Dogs happy in television short

Abby Miller from CH 6, WLUC-TV, came to the kennel with new dog drivers, Christine Grabowski and Jenna Grabowski.   It was a bit chilly but the dogs were very excited to take multiple runs with Christine, Jenna and even Abby , the reporter.   You can view it at:
you have to scroll through 'more stories' to find it.

Leaders, Buffy and Ruthie, are sisters from the Skinny (Aliy Zirkle/Jerry Louden) and Liller (Susan Butcher ) breeding, born February 2, 2014.  We'll be celebrating their birthday on Sunday.

Yuki and Yeti, are pups of a breeding of Zirkle's dogs, Frita and Martin.

Navy , leader, recently joined us from Susan Butcher's kennel, joining his Auntie Eos.  Their lines are from Ellis and Butcher (Sven, Zeus).

It was fun to provide the opportunity for Abby to drive a sled.  Christine and Jenna are no longer beginners and are doing well.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Three new dog drivers

Weather cooperated for first sled dog driving turns for Christine, Nick and Jenna.   Christine ran 4 dogs, Jenna ran 4 and Nick ran 6.  Each run was done so well and the dogs (and I think the drivers) had a great time.

The trails are still a bit punchy.  We've had snow and snow but no more concrete type snow since around Christmas (the kind that packs hard).  Now we're back in another arctic blast, but not quite as bad as the last one.  It'll be minus 12 tonight, minus 26 windchill, but at least it's not minus 50 windchill.

Dogs all received new straw today and nice hot meals.  Kiddo is improving , as is Eos.  Both have spent quite a bit of time outdoors, Kiddo now being able to sleep out all night.

As usual , not every dog got a run.  We promised them turns the next time around.   Yesterday's dogs:

Team 1:  Ruthie, Buffy, Navy, Sherpa     Team 2:   Ruthie, Navy, Sherpa, Herman  Team 3:  Ruthie, Navy,
Zoom, Buffy, Sherpa, Herman

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Weather acceptance... minus twenty eight degrees, 5:00 AM

We are posting about extreme weather that has lasted for six days and we're thinking of our Two Rivers, AK friends who have had this, off and on, since November.  They've had some warmups too, but this cold stuff is more the norm for them.   So six days of it really isn't that bad, but it's still extreme.  A North Carolina friend is fretting about six degrees , which seems warmer right now.  It's all relative and you deal with what you have. The house gets cluttered and the water dishes get spilled, gear builds up, but it's working.

Photos:  Copper in the 'blue' cold;  Eos outside checking it out; Navy on his bed;  enthusiastic Zoom wriggling around , warming up.

  Each day it seems like a break is coming.  Yesterday it warmed up to ten with sun, we were all appreciative.  Last night twenty five below again (which is Two Rivers's terms is not so strange).  Now we're looking for a meltdown in the thirties and rain, arghh.  But warmth for these dogs is welcome.

We had five house dogs last night and daytime visitors in and out.  Eos is living in the house full time these days, age 14 and 8 months, she's not as interested in eating as is normal for her.   She's an amazing dog and we're babying her along.  Copper is an in and out dog.  Navy is in at night (or whenever he can sneak back in... his heart is in being a house dog now, especially in competition with Copper).  Kiddo, tough girl, slept in last night (age 12).  Yeti, Martin's and Frita's son, relished being in yesterday.  He's a look alike to his Iditarod/Quest father.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Polar Vortex

A polar vortex is upon us.   This winter's weather, to date, has been a mixed bag of rain, ice, snow , bitter cold, wind and nothing too functional when it comes to sled dogs or running them.

This morning's wind chill is minus 38 and is forecast to stay there most of today and through the night again.  Nick (handler) helped to put up wind screen tarps and replenished, generously, the straw for all dogs, in the houses and outside for sitting.

Our dogs from Alaska are interesting to watch .  Eos, who has crossed the Alaskan Range and run to Nome, Iditarod, at least twice, is the oldest but most accepting of this weather.   She steps out, spends a short amount of time assessing and comes back in.  Copper, Iditarod, 06, furry and tough, steps out, moves forward, then barrels back to the door.   Navy, short coated Zeus's son, says, "not for me!"
Buffy, Copper Basin vet and visitor at Aliy Zirkle's kennel for a time, varies her opinion.  Buffy just plain likes to run, cold or hot, run, run Buffy!   Same with Ruthie.

Today's vortex , however, will take a bit of a toll on the humans, so we'll see how we do. Starting out with a nice warm, meaty meal for the dogs and it won't get any warmer, so here we go.