The dark horse of the kennel, Scotch is the biggest surprise of the season so far. He was not able to complete training last season, and spent most of the winter doing tours with our retired dogs. A big, gawky two-year old pup at the time, it just seemed like he was out of his league. Like the six foot tall teenager tripping over his own feet who goes on to become a varsity all star, Scotch just needed a little more time to develop. He is showing the potential to be one of the best dogs on the team.[close]
Bourbon is the serious type, all business. He is most comfortable and fulfilled when steadily moving down the trail, or else systematically preparing to do so. Not the type to break routine or lose focus of his professional goals, he'd be the model employee for any company. His mature, responsible personality gives you the impression that you're dealing with a veteran, though he's the youngest dog on the team.[close]
Trots like a reindeer. It seems Whiskey inherited his Uncle Tux's unique and charming gait. There is a joyful bounce in his step, almost as if he is prancing down the trail. Whiskey's got no lack of confidence, and has no reservations mouthing off to his teammates. An extrovert by nature, there is never any question as to what his opinion is. A particularly untidy type, Whiskey's personal space is usually a mess in spite of our tireless efforts to keep things clean.
Possibly the cutest dog in the kennel, Moonshine is also as tough as they get. Her elegant markings and dignified demeanor only enhance her epic personality. She was the only 2 year-old puppy to be chosen to race in the B-team during the last Iditarod, beating out her 3 bigger brothers. She shows huge potential as a lead dog, and is already rocking it in swing, backing up the lead dogs and keeping the front end headed in the right direction.
Oats is sponsored by Tina Kramer-Christisen.
This big guy actually belongs to our daughter Annie. As a toddler she picked him out when he was just 2 days old. Digging through a pile of half a dozen nearly identical puppies, she plucked him out, gave him a nuzzle, and said, “This is my dog Oats.” Oats spent much of that summer wrapped in a pink baby blanket, getting pushed around in a stroller. Today he has grown into a powerful young lead dog, one of the largest in the kennel. Genial exuberance combined with impressive mass- think Dino from the Flintstones. He almost made the main team last year, and was the top dog in our B-team. Sometimes the really big dogs take a longer to develop and mature, so watch for Oats to be a game changer in this year's Iditarod team!
Last year we predicted that Gamble might become top dog in the future- “Possibly the best dog of his generation in the kennel.” We are often asked if it's possible to predict which puppy in a litter will be the best sled dog. In our experience it's impossible to know until they grow up. However, if pressed to choose one, we would put our money on the pup that you don't notice in the group. Not the biggest, or the smallest, or the biggest personality, but the most average one in the group. That dog would be Gamble. Judging by his performance in last year's record breaking team, and his development in training this year, Gamble may very well be leading the charge in future Iditarods.
Ripple is sponsored by Kathryn Fulda.
One of the best canine athletes we've ever encountered! Ripple's mind blowing athletic ability rivals that of our super dog Reef. She is also a maddening mix of exasperating personality traits, joyfully engaging in just about every bad habit that a sled dog is capable of. She chews harnesses, necklines, and dog coats. She jumps and lunges and twists when you are trying to lead her anywhere, and is constantly getting tangled in her harness when running. She does her very best to pick a fight with her teammates anytime she gets the chance, and seems oblivious to the ‘sled dog etiquette’ that we work so hard to instill in our team. Ripple is what I call a ‘Thousand Mile Dog’, meaning that you may only ever appreciate her personality towards the end of a 1,000 mile race. She finished strong in last year's champion team, and was barking and lunging to go every step of the way. It's likely that she will become our kennel's main breeding female, though we cringe to think of managing a team full of Ripples!
Barley is sponsored by Ann Marie Cox.
Barley thinks that life is hilarious. He’s constantly goofing off. Standing on his head and flipping upside-down into your lap when getting booties put on, or enthusiastically making doggie snow angels every time we stop on the trail. He’s such an amazing athlete that even serious challenges, like the Iditarod, fail to dampen his humor. As a dog trainer, the biggest challenge has been to get him to take anything seriously. Even my sternest voice seems to be interpreted as a knock-knock joke. Barley was a driving force in wheel during this last year's Iditarod, pulling hard across the finish line in record breaking first place with that same happy-go-lucky grin that he started with.
Reno is sponsored by Ann Marie Cox.
What Reno lacks in a sense of direction, she more than makes up for with forward orientation. She has no idea what Gee or Haw means, or how to follow the main trail if a smaller trail intersects it, but she sure tries hard to be a lead dog. She just loves to run up there, but there’s no telling what adventures she will lead you into. Another unusual trait that stands out about Reno is that she is almost always dirty. No matter the season or weather, her pretty white fur is almost always covered in dirt or mud or whatever she has found to roll in. She's a happy go lucky dog with the most willing attitude, and will almost certainly mature into a serious leader within a year or two. Of course, having both parents, Diesel and Guiness, as Iditarod Champion lead dogs sure doesn’t hurt her chances.
Known in the mushing community as a “spook”, dogs like Black Jack seem to have extra adrenaline pulsing through their veins. He is friendly and social, but jumps out of his skin at the smallest surprise. A loud noise, a musher's stumble, or anything unexpected sends him into orbit. Fortunately, all of that anxiety disappears when he is in harness. The security and compression of pulling into the harness seems to bring balance to his nervous system. Mushing is his therapy. He is a supreme athlete and could easily step up as a core team dog.[close]
Rye has all of the qualities that you value in a best friend. He’s sensitive, caring, and respectful. Friendly, but not clingy, and loyal to a fault. He acts and looks like a Golden Retriever, and has a close bond with his people, which is unusual in sled dogs, who are generally pretty accepting of anybody who feeds them. Rye makes very deliberate eye contact whenever one of his humans, Jen or Dallas, come into the dog yard, as if to acknowledge that distinctive kinship. He is not the most confident dog in the yard, but with careful coaching he is maturing into a stellar lead dog. He ran all the way to White Mountain, the last checkpoint, on last year's race, proving himself to be a champion caliber dog.[close]
Steady, dependable, and honest. Rapid quietly gets the job done. He’s got the opposite personality as his litter-mates River and Ripple, and is never one to cause trouble or challenge his musher. Calm and level headed, he’s happy to run in the middle of the team and just mush. Rapid’s mild personality and solid work ethic make him a valuable teammate who you can trust to get along with any dog in the team and make his musher’s job as easy as possible.[close]
Reef is sponsored by Mark Kapocsi.
Without a doubt, the most gifted canine athlete we have ever known. He is a freak of nature- in a good way! Physically and mentally this dog can drive the pace for 1,000 miles. Reef has this amazing ability to minimize dismal trail conditions. Breaking trail…NO PROBLEM. 50 below…GREAT! Gail force winds…I WANNA GO! In his rookie year as a two-year-old, he led the team out of Safety in an extreme blizzard, going on to win the Iditarod and set a new speed record. The next year, as a three-year-old, he broke trail in single lead for hundreds of miles, leading the team to Nome for another Iditarod championship. Last year he broke his own speed record, leading the team to his 3rd Iditarod win. Our kennel’s top dog, Reef's name is known in mushing circles around the world. Not bad considering he’s the runt of his litter, and greatly resembles a scrawny orange coyote.
Petite and dainty, this little girl can run the legs off of the boys. The only girl in her litter, Lava took to leading early. Rumor has it that she taught her brother Reef how to lead when they were yearlings, and she's always been one of the sharpest lead dogs in the yard. A working mom, she balances raising pups with racing Iditarod. The last couple years she has been passed over for the A Team for being “low on miles” due to maternity leave. We are hopeful that the year round training program implemented this year will give dogs like Lava the extra time needed to build their conditioning back up after weaning the pups.[close]
Steiger is the “golden boy” of the kennel. He is a big, powerful blonde dog with long legs that makes fast speeds look natural and easy. You can bet that no matter what the team is doing- running, sleeping, taking commands, breaking trail, Steiger is doing it perfectly with his own brand of confidence. His other hobby is hunting, and he regularly catches small rodents and birds that we encounter on the trail, snatching them up as we mush by without even breaking stride. We still haven't decided if he has a strong prey drive or it's just his voracious appetite at work.[close]
Tide is the energizer bunny. His energy seems to build the farther we go, and he finishes each run wriggling and perky. Always ready to play, he prefers to romp and wrestle with friends in between training runs whereas the rest of his teammates would rather rest and relax. He looks like a perfect clone of his father Payton, who is the patriarch of our kennel bloodline. Sleek and muscular, Tide’s youthful enthusiasm has transformed into reliable endurance and speed. This last year he finished the fastest Iditarod in history in lead next to his litter-mate and running partner Reef.[close]
Surf is sponsored by Kathryn Fulda.
A litter-mate to top dog Reef, Surf’s talent tends to get eclipsed by his twin brother’s accomplishments. Luckily, he doesn’t seem to notice. Definitely one of the sharpest lead dogs in the kennel, Surf was a key player in our last three Iditarod victories. He’s a hard driving, speedy dog who is an expert at Gee-Haw steering commands. Small and lively, he's always on the go. If forward movement is paused, he just goes up, leaping high into the air until forward motion can be resumed.
Lobben is sponsored by Napa Auto Parts.
Lobben was named after a popular (for dog mushers at least) Scandinavian boot. This guy is big, powerful, and the class clown. He's a talented lead dog with a happy-go-lucky attitude. We had concerns that his goofy personality might prevent him from stepping up and getting serious when the time came to get the job done. Let's just say that those fears were unfounded. Lobben finished in swing with the champion team the last two years in a row. Both years he was a key dog throughout the entire race, spending quite a bit of time driving the pace in lead. He is living proof that you can be goofy and effective at the same time. Lobben is one of my most trusted lead dogs.
Maui is sponsored by Ann Marie Cox.
Maui isn’t the kind of dog that draws much attention to himself. He’s in the background, working away, getting the job done. Dependable, but not flashy. He eats, runs, and sleeps, just happy to be a part of the team. Maui's got a near perfect build for a sled dog. Just the right size, thick double coat, and always fat, at least by sled dog standards. Really a beautiful animal. Born into a family of show-offs (Reef, Tide, and Surf), we suspect that he is the invisible middle child. Even so, he's proven himself as one of the most consistent performers on the team.
Hero is a beautiful dog and has that classic Hollywood husky look. He is the biggest dog on the team, but despite his large size is a surprisingly fast and willing lead dog. Hero’s massive bone structure and mellow demeanor sometimes make it seem like you’re working with coldblooded draft horse. He led the 2015 Champion team across the Iditarod finish line in Nome, and also finished with the 2014 Champion team. While he’s actually only raced in three Iditarods, he was conceived at the starting line of the 2010 race. Technically this makes him a 4 time Iditarod finisher! Dallas rates him as “one of the top 4 most important dogs in the team”. In the off season Hero is a sled dog ambassador, flying all over the country to attend Iditarod themed key note speaking events. He's become quite fond of room service and hotel beds.[close]
Blazer inherited his champion father’s distinctive long body and smooth trot. His bloodline can be traced back to the original “village dog” huskies of old, and he’s retained many of the strengths of those legendary dogs. Good appetite, tough feet, and intractable perseverance. While not overly excitable, Blazer is also unperturbed by harsh conditions. He is completely in his element when racing Iditarod, and comfortable with whatever conditions Alaska has to offer. One of the top stud dogs in the kennel, many of his pups have their dad’s distinctive golden eyes lined in black.
Hombre is the son of the 2012 Iditarod Golden Harness award winner Guiness. He’s definitely the crusty sourdough type, much like the men who first settled Alaska. His grizzled coat has always given him the appearance of a very old dog. To add to that, he prefers sleeping on the ice next to his dog house, causing him to be all frosted up on cold mornings. But what Hombre lacks in elegance, he more than makes up for with his respectful, mannerly demeanor. There is a true gentleman underneath that rugged exterior. A key team dog during the early and middle section of the Iditarod, his ability to do the long runs on little rest helps position the rest of the team for a win. His steady, mature personality is a positive influence on the younger dogs in the team.
Candle is sponsored by Northern Adjusters, Inc.
Named after a village outside of Nome, Candle has a small, sleek build and an unusually long stride. She's always got that super alert look on her face reminding you of a little fox. The sweetheart in the team, she’s as much of a companion as team mate out on the trail. Candle spends most of her time in wheel, though she is happy to run just about anywhere in the team. A pretty girl in a team full of mostly intact males has the potential to cause significant distraction, so she is usually sequestered in the back. Candle has finished in every Iditarod (including 3 wins) since her first race in 2013. She has never been dropped, and is our only dog that can make that claim.
Tux is sponsored by Claire Fitzpatrick & Michael Cook.
Handsome Tux is the poster boy for our Alaska Sled Dog Tours business. His flashy “tuxedo” markings earned him his name, and his extra-long, elegant tail and graceful “reindeer prance” lend to his sophisticated persona. As a pup, he was born in the winter. About the size of a hamster, he was nearly ambushed by the cat while warming up in front of the wood stove. Tux has now grown into a talented core team dog, outweighs the cat by 40 pounds, and almost always lives and runs near his only brother Blazer. It's very common for litter-mates to spend their entire lives together at our kennel, and we often see that their running and personality styles compliment each other.
Glitter is sponsored by Ann Marie Cox.
This year Glitter is the only 7 year old training with the A Team. Ironic that the oldest dog in the team acts like the youngest! If you’ve ever met Glitter, chances are you got licked… in the face. She is a dog who seems to vibrate at a higher frequency. Trying to hold her still for something like a vet check or a nail trim can be exhausting. Not because she isn’t cooperative, but because she wiggles with every fiber of her being. Not even running 1,000 miles at a record breaking pace is enough to still her wriggling. Her signature move is to climb over the dog next to her and get in a few happy licks to your face while you are stooping to remove booties. Glitter usually runs in wheel next to her favorite team mate Candle.
During his competitive career from 2011- 2015, Beatle finished in every Yukon Quest and Iditarod champion team from the kennel. He has also won the Iditarod’s prestigious Golden Harness award, chosen by the mushers as the most valuable dog in the race. Beatle's extensive leadership experience is now being shared with the young guns. This year will see him leading the way to Nome for the next generation in the kennel. He is a far more effective teacher for those pups than any human could ever be.
One of our retired Champions, Gatt won the Yukon Quest in single swing and was a rock star swing dog on the 2012 Iditarod champion team. Out of harness Gatt has a quiet, apologetic personality, but in harness was the cheer leader in the team, keeping up a steady, ear piercing bark during every hook up. These days he happily greats tourists who visit the kennel, and still insists on living and eating with the race dogs.[close]
Photo Credit: Angie Lason Photography