As you know, every year we retire select dogs from their racing careers to very select Forever Homes. It is always a happy and sad time for us as they move on to another exciting phase of their life without us. Our philosophy always has and always will be: “the right home, for the right dog, at the right time”. (Read more about Aliy’s philosophy about retirement in this story about Hotshot.)

That “right home at the right time” arrived for Chemo earlier in the summer. Mary Beth and Elizabeth have sponsored Chemo for several seasons and have followed his fortunes closely, even coming up to Alaska twice to see him. A couple of years ago they expressed interest in adopting him once his racing days were over and have kept in touch ever since.

Chemo is such a lovely boy. He is quite a sensitive soul and can be a bit shy when meeting new people but is very loving and affectionate to those he knows. Aliy wrote of him after Iditarod 2016: “Chemo is an honest, carefree addition to any team. He is genuinely a happy character and likes to travel down the trail. He stayed healthy throughout the race and slowly moved his way farther up the team as we neared the finish. Chemo is definitely talented, but sometimes I had to convince him of that fact. I think he dug pretty deep to finish this race and I am proud of him for that.

We are sad to see Chemo leave the kennel but at the same time so very happy to hear about his new life in the Adirondacks. Thanks to everyone who ever joined Chemo’s fan club.

Good boy Chemo!


Here is the rest of the story from Mary Beth:

We were thrilled and honored to get an email from Aliy asking us if we were still interested in providing Chemo his well deserved Forever Home….we responded with YES, ABSOLUTELY!!

We have spent four wonderful racing seasons watching our Sponsor Dog race with SPK, and it’s a dream come true he is now here with us at our Adirondack Homestead! His first seven years were fantastic and exciting…and we hope he will find life here in the “Dacks” equally fantastic and exciting…he is off to a great start!

He has already become my “fishing dog”, you know, the kind of dog who enjoys just sitting on the stream bank as you fly fish and not swimming right through your fishing hole! I actually created a fly pattern using Chemo’s under fur dubbed on a hook (with the way he sheds, I got a lifetime supply) along with some moose hair Aliy gave me for the wings…I call the pattern “Sled Dog Caddis” and it has caught many a brook trout for me this spring with Chemo watching from the bank!

He is of course the Lead Dog of Team Adirondack, and we have already covered 72 miles of trails with the PawTrek Scooter (a scooter specifically designed to be used with dogs)!! Whiskey, our three year old male German Shepherd is in awe of him…and Chemo has already taught him how to keep a tight tug line and to focus on the trail.

His new six year old German Shepherd sister Willow (alpha female) to our surprise (and relief) accepted him into the family immediately, and Chemo’s talents as a Lead Dog seemed to earn him great respect from her. It was amazing to watch this dynamic unfold between the two… they are great friends now! Chemo’s silly side really won Willow over… she loves a good game of chase, and Chemo knows how to stay five steps in front of her with a big smile on his face and his tail curled up and held high as both Willow and Whiskey chase him around! Chemo is a love bug, and often times comes up and wants to be petted and massaged. When I was at the Kennel, Wendy shared with me Chemo’s favorite places to be petted…I would have never thought to rub the inside of a dogs ear but he LOVES that! Those 5 days spent at the kennel bonding with Chemo was an important step in the adoption process!!

Elizabeth and I often times find ourselves saying things like “how does he know how to do that”… like being house trained, heeling behind us along a foot trail, or fetching a tennis ball and immediately coming back and dropping it at my feet while smiling up at me with that “do it again” smile! He has some funny habits, like making a bed if there is even a hint of staying somewhere for a spell. Once Whiskey was watching him do this and walked away literally covered with dirt that Chemo flung his way! Then there is the Schnitzel, our Siamese Cat… who in the first days of Chemo being here touched noses and then rubbed up against him. Chemo seemed to think that was pretty cool!

So… what’s next for Chemo? Well, more PawTrekking of course! Right now we are doing local trails and our own network of paths, but soon I’ll branch out to do some longer excursions. The Pawtrek Scooter also has a small trailer… so perhaps there is even a nice camping trip to be experienced with the Team! This winter we will get the dog sled down and trek around on our 43 acres every weekend as we follow SPK during the race season… once the ice is on the lakes Chemo will lead Team Adirondack out to my favorite ice fishing spots in search of Adirondack Lake Trout to catch through the ice.

We have lots of adventures on the horizon… with one goal in mind… having FUN and being HAPPY! That goal is for Elizabeth and I as well… if our dogs are happy we are happy! Thank you SPK for allowing us the opportunity to give Chemo a really cool “Life is Good Part II”!! We won’t let you or Chemo down… he is everything we knew he would be, and then some!

9 Responses

  • How lovely!!!

    So happy to hear about Chemo's "Life is Good, Part 2" – and the Adirondacks seem like a great fit, too!!!


    Love the planning program at SP Kennel – and love that Chemo exhibits his awesome training/habits/joi de vivre thousands of miles away from "home" – and what a guy – WOOF!!!

  • Congratulations Mary Beth and Elizabeth and Chemo. It sounds like you are all having a wonderful time. Chemo truly has found a a retired sled dog's paradise.

  • This is so great for Chemo! How special to be able to adopt the dog you sponsored for many years, Mary Beth & Elizabeth. The Adirondaks seems like a perfect place for a dog who was raised in cold interior Alaska. I don't know anything about fly fishing, but the "sled dog" Caddis Fly Pattern is very cool. Chemo, what a fabulous retirement life you will have (or already have). Love all the pictures of him with his new canine brother & sister.

  • This is a beautiful new forever home for a beautiful dog. Chemo is a lucky boy to be so beloved by so many people and now, even a few more in the family – Whiskey, Willow and Schnitzel to adore him.

  • It so nice to see Chemo has gone to live in such a wonderful place where he can continue "happy trails " 🐾🐾.To Chemo thanks for all your efforts over your race career . 😘Denali 🐾🐾 and Joanne 🇦🇺

  • What a fabulous retirement for Chemo. Take Care & Thanks Mary Beth and
    Elizabeth for your never ending Love for Chemo.

  • This is AWESOME! As someone who grew up running around the ADKs, then attended Paul Smith's College and helped start a foundation here in AK that helps place injured and retired sled dogs in loving forever homes, this warms my heart. If I didn't live in AK, the ADKs is where I would be and they will always have my heart! You are a lucky guy Chemo!

  • Congratulations on your great retirement home, Chemo. I hope you and your new family have as happy and long a time together as I had with my Iditarod retiree Mischief (not an SPK dog though). At 7 1/2 I figured to have 5 or 6 great years with her but we had nearly 10 wonderful years! Sounds like you have the ideal situation!

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