The 3 yearlings from last summer: Gold, Prata and Bronze are healthy and happy. They have learned all about team work and focus. They were in steady Fall training into the beginning of winter. In mid November when the Adult Racers were bumped up in mileage training runs, these youngsters stayed training on shorter mileage. Throughout the month of December, the Yearlings began training longer mileage along with a some of two year olds and several Mature Dogs. These dogs are specifically training for the Two Rivers 200.

  • Gold is a gorgeous, furry ‘Clyde look-a-like’. He is confident in harness and in the yard. He loves to eat as much as his Daddy. He is a strong dog and enjoys running. He has a snow dipping habit while in harness that causes him some issues because he falls off the trail sometimes. Oops. Gold is on the skinny side but as a youth with tons of energy, he will be hard to keep chunky until he matures. He has the most training miles of the yearlings ~ but only beating out Bronze by 12 miles.
  • Don’t get mad but… Bronze is a little “dumpy” looking. She is not glamorous. On the other hand, she is a great sled dog. She loves to get harnessed and literally screams a high pitched squeal while waiting to depart. She is a steady worker and always wants to go farther and faster. Bronze loves to eat and has had no issue keeping weight on her bones. Bronze is no slouch and is hoping to prove that on her first race this season.
  • Prata is a mini-Quito. She has the same fur, ears and look in her eyes ~ just a bit smaller. Prata began the season as the ‘stand out’ yearling. She was the first youngster to become a lead dog and was full of energy. In November she lost focus and became picky with her food. She was 16 months old and had never had a female heat cycle. We were concerned about this so we had her spayed. Prata has recovered completely and is ready to roll. We do not expect her to race as a yearling unless she is ready for a short Tune Up race later in the season. Prata is in harness doing short ‘fun runs’ with Quito, Nacho, Biscuit and occasionally, Scout.

There are twelve dogs who are 2 year olds. They all are a handful of energy! The focus of these dogs varies and some of them have not been pushed as much as others. There are only 24 spots for the Copper Basin 300 race roster. Only a very, very talented 2 year old could “bump out” one of our older, more experienced dogs for the Black Team. Time will tell because a few of them sure want to give it a shot. The rest of the 2 year olds are training for the Two Rivers 200 and the Yukon Quest 300 (and of course the Iditarod  Black Team.)

  • Barista is excited in harness. She had a problem last year with chewing the line but has since learned her manners. This season she has had a harder time maintaining a steady pull ~ she goes out too hard in the beginning and tires at times. She is a sleek, good looking gal but does not have a lot of extra weight on her. She is now training specifically for the Two Rivers 200 and by that she is training slower so that she has energy in the end. Barista’s current cumulative training mileage is below the Racers’ average (but not extremely low for a 2 year old.)
  • Bean is a little trotter. She is super comfortable in her gait and seems to be able to do it forever. She is not a SPEEDSTER! She is short in stature but has a fireplug build. Bean had an impressive training month in November. She has gone on some of the longer runs and has potential to do all of the races. Bean’s current cumulative training mileage is below the Racers’ average (but right on target for a 2 year old.)
  • Bruno is a muscled up man. He is the kinda guy who just bulges muscles. He enjoys his meals so he has kept his weight through the longer training miles. Bruno has been running in lead once in a while, but he still hasn’t mastered the ‘poo on the go’ talent and we come to a screeching halt when he needs a potty break. He has a chance at a spot on a Copper Basin 300 team, we’ll see what happens in the next week. Bruno’s current cumulative training mileage is right at the Racers’ average.
  • Chevie is a racy gal. She has a short husky coat and looks thinner than she truly is. She might need a dog coat in cooler temperatures. Chevie is a hard worker and gets excited to go. She is generally a good eater but had a week in November when she didn’t enjoy her meals as much as we had hoped. She has a minor shoulder cramp earlier in training but it was nothing serious. She has a chance at a spot on a Copper Basin 300 team. Chevie’s current cumulative training mileage is right at the Racers’ average.
  • Creamer is all legs. She takes after her big sister Chena with an extremely poor eating habit – and with her long legs she looks like a scrawny super model at times. For this reason, she sat out a few training runs when the temperatures were cold and she did not eat a full meal. December has been a great training month for her and she is training for the Two Rivers 200. Creamer’s current cumulative training mileage is below the Racers’ average.
  • Dancer is bigger than she looks at first glance. For being a ‘circle dog’ (her ADD energy makes her run in circles constantly) she manages to keep a healthy weight. Her feet can take a toll when she circles in icy conditions and she had to miss several training runs due to that. Dancer still has her focus issues at the beginning of a training run. She looks around like she is ‘missing something’ but after a few miles she settles in. Dancer’s current cumulative training mileage is below the Racers’ average and she is training for the Two Rivers 200.
  • Decaf is a goofy guy who sure tries hard. Too hard! Decaf has gone out too hard and regretted it on several runs when he ended up riding home in the sled bag. Decaf is a dear, sweet boy who just needs to learn to ‘take it easy’. He gets incredibly excited from the moment someone touches a harness until he shoots out on a training run. We will continue to whisper in his big ears “Easy buddy!” until he listens. December has been a successful training month for him and he is training for the Two Rivers 200. Decaf’s current cumulative training mileage is below the Racers’ average.
  • Jefe is a lovely boy. Very happy and joyful about everything. He has been strong throughout the season and even found him self in lead (What?!? Where am I?) He was one of the few dogs who had a cough despite the fact that we vaccinate annually for Kennel Cough. He sat out several training runs due to that health issue but has been 100% since. Copper Basin 300? TR 200? We’ll see. Jefe’s current cumulative training mileage is right at the Racers’ average.
  • McCaw is Gi-Normous! Over 60 pounds of beef. He has lots of muscle and body to move around and he seems to do it quite well. In November McCaw seemed unstoppable and then when the temperatures warmed in early December he has several poor training runs back to back. We cut him back in mileage and intensity and made it fun and easy again. He has progressed throughout December and is now training for the Two Rivers 200 race team. McCaw’s current cumulative training mileage is slightly below the Racers’ average.
  • Perky looks great and according to him… feels great too. He is a leggy tall guy who keeps his weight nicely. He is one happy-to-be-alive dog. Perky has shown us that a happy dogs can get the job done as well as anyone else! He loves to run, so we let him. He has a good chance at a spot on a Copper Basin 300 team in a week. Perky’s current cumulative training mileage is slightly above the Racers’ average.
  • Q.T. is also lots of legs. She stands taller than many dogs, but her slim figure is a tell tale sign that she is still a youngster. Q.T. is spunky in harness and likes to strut her stuff – even after the 50 mile Tune Up race! We wish that she would carry a little more weight but she manages to get the job done nicely. Q.T. also has a chance at a spot on a Copper Basin 300 team. Q.T.’s current cumulative training mileage is right at the Racers’ average.
  • Sanka is a small gal with HUGE ears. She has really taken to the lead dog position and obviously has confidence. She has a fast pace and likes to lope or canter down the trail. She is the smallest 2 year olds but that hasn’t slowed her down. She has had a great season thus far. She will be on several race teams… we just don’t know which ones yet. Sanka’s current cumulative training mileage is right at the Racers’ average.

There are five dogs who are 3 Year olds from the Chica and Clyde litter. They are a varied bunch for being siblings – they don’t look alike, act alike or perform alike. Was there a Milkman around back then?

  • Five is a big boy and weighs in at about 60 pounds now. A powerhouse to say the least. He will run in lead but only with an experienced partner – when you partner him with another newbie you’ll find them face down and rolling in a snow bank. If we can keep him healthy and muscled up he will truly be a helpful fellah in the steep, long hills on some of our races. He is a contender for all races. Five’s current cumulative training mileage is above the Racers’ average.
  • Ernie is slight of build and sleek – he looks nothing like his three brothers. He is cute, mild mannered and somewhat petite. He is NOT a powerhouse but does manage to pull his weight quite well. He LOVES to climb mountains and literally screams as the team grinds to the top. Ernie still has a minor eating issue and doesn’t like to gobble down food if he is tired – he would rather sleep. Can you blame him? He is a contender for all races. Ernie’s current cumulative training mileage is slightly above the Racers’ average.
  • Ginger is becoming quite the lead dog – she has drive and speed. However, she isn’t the “drill sergeant” of the team and will gladly drift off into a snow bank if her lead partner feels compelled to cool off. Ginger’s husky coat is lacking and you will often see her in a dog jacket. She is already a thin dog so we worry that her ‘non furry’ coat might not be enough for the cooler temperatures. She is training for the Two Rivers 200 as her next race. Ginger’s current cumulative training mileage is right at the Racers’ average.
  • Rodney raced both the YQ and ID as a 2 year old and gives all he’s got. He was headed for super stardom this season until he got some minor tendonitis. We have “benched” him for the longer training runs but he is completely uncooperative and does just as many miles while in anticipation of running as he would do if he were in harness. We will have to see how his forearm responds to the “rest” treatment. We would love to have Rodney ready for the Yukon Quest and Iditarod teams. Rodney’s current cumulative training mileage is below the Racers’ average.
  • Scooby is a perfect looking sled dog and lucky us… he’s a pretty good athlete too! He is a great eater, overly excited to run and scampers back to his house after a work out. He is R-E-A-D-Y to race. He will run near the rear of the team so that we can watch him whenever we stop to take a break – Scooby doesn’t like breaks and will gladly pull the snow hook and continue on without his musher or the rest of his team being ready. Scooby’s current cumulative training mileage is above the Racers’ average.

There are ten dogs who are 4 Year olds: the one and only Fire Pups and — Champ and Cayenne. These are all racy, fast and happy dogs. Several of the females are very small. Nearly all of these dogs will lead and most of them are primary leaders. These dogs have a lot of racing experience and will be the bulk of the main racing teams.

  • Amber is still a super cheerleader and a GREAT swing dog. She is fast but also tough. She came back a Copper Basin long training run with some soreness in her front end. But the next morning she played around for 30 minutes with her chew bone and harassed her neighbor Clyde, so she might just need a little time off. Amber’s current cumulative training mileage is above the Racers’ average.
  • Cayenne is doing it! We have been rooting for this little girl to get after it and she is. She is super excited to get harnessed and is impatient on the line. Her steady gait makes her able to do the long runs. Maybe this is her year… look for her to harness up for some races. Cayenne’s current cumulative training mileage is right at the Racers’ average.
  • Champ is a pretty boy. Long legs, big chest and a sassy attitude. He really likes him self. As he should! Champ is talent, speed and energy. He’ll lead or he’ll run in wheel. We need him to stay healthy and then he’ll be a top contender. Champ’s current cumulative training mileage is above the Racers’ average. AND CONGRATS TO CHAMP! He has the second most training miles thus far this season of any SPK Racing Dog.
  • Chena is a sweetheart. Her calm, almost sheepish, attitude is deceiving. She is one of the best lead dogs at SPK. She can either motor down the trail or grind in the hills – she is up there in front giving it all she’s got. Chena is is a contender for all races if she can keep her weight. She only eats a certain type of dog food… yea… she’s that picky! Chena’s current cumulative training mileage is right at the Racers’ average.
  • Commando is a primary race leader. He is self-assured and expects to lead. He is also a speedster. Look for him when the SPK team is trying to go FAST! Commando has super weight this season and looks like a perfect sled dog at just over 50 pounds. He will be important this season. Commando’s current cumulative training mileage is above the Racers’ average.
  • Daisy is a “give it all ya got” gal. And she does! She has been leading a team of yearlings and two year olds through December on a somewhat slower paced team. We are trying to tame her bottle rocket energy and make it more of a ‘slow burn’. She needs to  start and finish a race to bump her confidence. Daisy’s current cumulative training mileage is right at the Racers’ average.
  • “M” is learning the ropes and has become fairly comfortable at SPK. She has been in steady training and knows the routine. She now run freely home to her dog house after a training run (a big step for her to navigate through a yard of unfamiliar dogs!) But she has lots to learn about racing and we will see what role she can play for us this year. “M”‘s current cumulative training mileage is right at the Racers’ average.
  • Nomex is looking fine. He has a body that has filled out and is powerful. He is packing some weight at 55 pounds. Nomex eats well, he runs steady and he is a sweet boy. He has been seeing some time in lead this season as well. We sure hope that he is headed to all the races. Nomex’s current cumulative training mileage is above the Racers’ average.
  • Spark is a delight. He is in lead often, but back in the team when we are trying to go super fast. He is eating well and feeling great right now. Fingers crossed that this future rock star stays healthy (we know he will be happy 😀) for the duration of the race season. Spark has good weight on him as well which is great because he’s been know to be picky now and then. Spark’s current cumulative training mileage is above the Racers’ average.
  • Tinder has been in lead on and off this season. He is also excellent in swing position. He is a fast and dedicated dog. He can make any team this season and has certainly put in the time and effort to deserve a spot. He has kept his weight and looks ready to roll. Tinder’s current cumulative training mileage is right at the Racers’ average.
  • Violet is crazy happy – she even flipped off her house last week – landed OK – and went directly to the team hook up. Maybe a future gymnast? Once again, this silly gal, is NOT excited about her food. She turns off her appetite as she turns on the miles – strange but true. She is a bit like her sister and likes a certain variety of kibble, but thankfully she’ll also eat frosted beef bites. So we’ll keep her belly happy. Violet’s current cumulative training mileage is above the Racers’ average.

There are eight dogs who are 5 Year Olds from two litters. All of these dogs have raced extensively in the Yukon Quest, Iditarod, CB300, YQ 300 and more. They are core SPK dogs.

  • Chipper is a demon dog. It’s a complete mystery: How she does what she does? She comes back from a long run and proceeds to trot around the entire yard telling everyone how great she is. She is bulked up at 36 pounds this season. She has been rather sassy and has caused us some issues when passing other teams – especially when she decided that Ryne’s dog team is the enemy. Maybe she’s on to something? Chipper’s current cumulative training mileage is above the Racers’ average. AND CONGRATS TO CHIPPER! She has the most training miles thus far this season of any SPK Racing Dog.
  • Driver is a big boy at over 60 pounds. He has had some gastrointestinal issues earlier in the season but a daily dose of probiotics has helped. Driver has never been fast but he is strong, steady and absolutely dedicated. Driver’s current cumulative training mileage is above the Racers’ average.
  • Dutch is amazing this season. He finishes a tough training run and comes back and zooms around the yard like a cheerleader – barking and circling. Its amazing. He is in lead often and has power and strength. He is looking great. Dutch’s current cumulative training mileage is above the Racers’ average.
  • Iron looks fit and runs like a super athlete now. He is happy, agile and race ready. He is not a leader but he’ll add a lot of energy to the team. He hasn’t missed a step this season and is ready to be a big player fr many of the races. Iron’s current cumulative training mileage is above the Racers’ average.
  • Junior will be in lead for the speed races. She has quickness and agility. Junior is not a big girl but she has kept her weight well this season and it super fit. She has probably never looked better. Junior’s current cumulative training mileage is above the Racers’ average.
  • Kodiak doesn’t stress about much. Right now he is ready to rule the team, the yard or the couch. He is very intelligent and can navigate the team through anything but also has a high gear when needed. He is very strong this season and even has a pound or two more muscle than last year. Kodiak’s current cumulative training mileage is above the Racers’ average.
  • Lydia was looking fantastic through the new year and then pulled a muscle in her hind leg on December 31st. She never limped or showed soreness but she is currently “benched” while it heals. Her weight, attitude and spunk are good. We will need to keep her entertained during her short rehab. Lydia’s current cumulative training mileage is right at the Racers’ average.
  • Sandy had a great early season and was looking like the little teamster that she has been in the past. But on a mid December fast run on hard packed trails, she came home with a sore shoulder. She has had rehab time and done several short runs. We will see what the future brings. Sandy’s current cumulative training mileage is below the Racers’ average.

There are five dogs who are 6 Years Old. All of these are main proven racers and have raced the YQ and Iditarod back to back.

  • Clyde is looking smooth. He is healthy and energetic. He has never been super fast but he has determination which makes up for anything else. When you know you CAN DO IT, then you can do it! Clyde can certainly do anything. Clyde’s current cumulative training mileage is above the Racers’ average.
  • Felix has never looked better. He has kept his weight and his attitude this season. He still has incredible speed as well as endurance. He will be important on the faster races as well as the long distance events. Felix’s current cumulative training mileage is above the Racers’ average. AND CONGRATS TO FELIX! He has the third most training miles thus far this season of any SPK Racing Dog.
  • Izzy is an awesome gal. Fiesty, but awesome. She has had a few health hurdles this season. She was on a sprint training run in October and came up sore in her front end. This has been and on and off issue since. She has had “bench” time, pen time, rehab time and now… only time will tell. We sure hope that she can heal this season and continue to be one of the best dogs here at SPK. Currently she is in a Play Pen harassing the three puppies to get her daily exercise. Izzy’s current cumulative training mileage is below the Racers’ average.
  • Mismo is as strong as ever. He is one of SPK’s best lead dogs. He looks enormous at nearly 70 pounds but moves with ease. He stepped in a moose hole this week and twisted his ankle (wrist) a little so might have some down time this week. He is an important Super Dog who is slated to be on the Yukon Quest and Iditarod teams. Mismo’s current cumulative training mileage is above the Racers’ average.
  • Outlaw has great weight and strength this season. He is not good in warmer temperatures so we cut back his training somewhat during those times. This has only helped his keep good weight and a great attitude. Sheila claims that Outlaw is one of the best “snugglers”. Outlaw is ready to race anything. His current cumulative training mileage is below the Racers’ average

Only one dog is 8 Years Old. 

  • Schmoe still has tremendous ‘cheerleader’ energy. He isn’t quite as loud as he has been in year’s past but he can hold his own. His training regime has been steady but not overwhelming. This might be the first season he doesn’t make the main race team but Schmoe can help any dog team keep their energy and focus. We hope he will help on some of the younger teams as they learn the race ropes. Schmoe’s current cumulative training mileage is below the Racers’ average but above average for the Mature dogs.

Only one dog is 9 Years Old.

  • Willie is a Super Star team dog… still. He trains with the Mature dogs occasionally or a younger Racer team. Willie doesn’t care, he will run with anyone, anywhere. He is still incredibly happy and enthusiastic. If you want to put a smile on your face, go put Willie in a harness! He is still ‘Silly Willie”. We will see if he races this season – but we hope he gets a chance! Willie’s current cumulative training mileage is below the Racers’ average but above average for the Mature dogs

There are two dogs who are 10 Year Olds. They are both awesome and stay pretty fit.

  • Olivia is still a Super Dog. She enjoys running in harness and when we keep speeds low and distances reasonable … she can do anything. Watch out, you might see Super Girl in a race yet! Olivia has less miles than Schmoe and Willie but many more than her brother, Scout.
  • Scout has retired. He began the season with limited training in harness and the possibility of racing. September through much of December he was still somewhat excited to run with a team. By mid December, after the holidays and perhaps too many late nights on the Thermarest bed in front off the TV, he turned in his retirement papers. He occasionally runs in a team with Quito, Nacho and Biscuit now, but he is very selective.

There are two dogs who are 11 Year Olds. They are SuperStars and enjoy life.

  • Nacho lives in the front of the yard next to his long time sweetie, Olivia. He runs in harness a couple times a week on slow fun adventures. He will run in lead, team or anywhere. He also enjoys running around the yard to chat with all the “pretty gals” (sorry Olivia!). He spends a lot of time chewing on various toys and Kongs.
  • Quito has claimed her retirement villa next to our Lazy Boy recliner in the living room. She can wake up, look out the window and see all the dogs outside. She howls when they howls. She likes to watch teams harnessing up from her second story perch. Quito still runs in harness on slow, fun runs.

Only one dog is 12 Years Old.

  • Biscuit looks good and feels good. He doesn’t pull much when he runs in harness but he seems to enjoy himself. He goes for a run several times a week. His home is currently in the Plaza under the house window.

Only one dog is 13 Years Old.

  • Nutmeg is certainly getting older. She putzed around in harness several times earlier in the season. She spends much of the time curled up with several bones or chew toys.

Only one dog is 15 1/2 Years Old.

  • Bullet is old. She has moved from her living room crate into the warm dog room where she has a dog house, a dog bed and doggie door that she can use any time she feels the “need” to go. She loves biscuits and napping.

If you make it through all this… then here is a surprise video. Wendy and Aliy passed out Christmas / New Year’s treats and all the kids were happy:

22 Responses

  • Thank you so much for the update – it was great learning about all of the dogs, old and new. The time you take to do this is greatly appreciated.

  • What a GREAT informational write-up! I can’t believe the Fire Litter is 4 years old! (They are the team born after I watched you for the first time, it’s how I keep track of time!)

    I knew when we picked Decaf to sponsor, he was a bundle. All the puppy videos showed him bounding around to prove he wasn’t decaffeinated! Sending some “easy buddy” from Colorado.

    Go get em teams! Great rosters are a coming! I can feel it.

    GO SPK

  • WOOF WOOF WOOF

    OMG how cute!!!

    Thank you so much for this trip through the dog yard, which I watched after reading the performance reports on every single 4-legged team member — what an opus!!!

    Awesome!!!

  • What a great update and fun holiday video. Following each dog definitely brought a smile to our faces. We are so looking forward to a super racing season for SPK.

  • Thank you, Aliy, for the information about the dogs. 😃I really enjoy learning about each individual SP Kennel dog.
    The video was fantastic, also! The dogs looked so happy to get the treats!

  • Thanks for including all the dogs, even Bullet. It seems like only yesterday when she was your ‘steering wheel’ with ChaCha.
    Wedgy sends her love to her Mom and Pop.

  • This is always one of my favorite posts to read each year…..a little insight on the dogs training directly from “the Boss”. And the video of gift giving was a bonus at the end! Thank you for doing this….I miss walking the dog yard and seeing all that happy sled dog energy! LOL….glad Nacho likes his new squeeky ball….I think I saw him smile! We love seeing “our” girl Olivia and her boyfriend Nacho!! What a pair!

    Sounds like that 4 year old group is ready to rock n roll!!! You got it all covered SPK, and Copper Basin right around the corner!

  • Thanks for the great update on all the dogs. Hoping Bruno makes the CB300 team…. learn that “poo on the go” buddy!

  • thank you so much for this great report!! I cringe and cry a little over those that have owies and say a prayer or two for them to get better but I am sure there will be enough good, fast and healthy dogs to run some fine races as the season advances. SPK is sure a fine place to be a dog! Love them all though I do have my faves and some of them are looking very promising. I will miss Quite and Scout but they have certainly paid their dues and earned a right to rest on a very big batch of laurels. The next generations are moving to the front now which is as it should be. Go Red and Black!!

  • Just AWESOME, seeing you handing out presents to all of the team members. Such a very special time , that you’ll remember for years to come. I’m sure that you have hundreds of Excel spreadsheets, in order to track all of the data. We enjoyed reading about each dog, and are totally amazed, how you can break down each dogs personality, and can recall how every dog performed on any given run. WOW! Best of everything, on all of the upcoming races. We’ll be tracking on the GPS.

  • I read this post with a smile on my face the whole time. I loved reading about each of the dogs, seeing how they progress as they grow, she how they keep it up or relax as they age. It makes up (almost) for not being able to be out there to see them all. I am totally happy that Bullet is still living the good life, shy girl.

    Thanks for taking time to give us detailed reports on everyone. It means a lot

  • Thanks Aliy for the pupdate!! I really enjoyed reading about each pup and their personalities/quirks and how their training is going. Hoping Mizmo is back in the thick of it real soon. And now little Chip Chip Chipper, you go girl. I can almost see her telling the other teams to stand down as she makes room for the team to mush by. Just remember that off the trail Ryne is a friend :).

    Cheers!
    Heidi

  • Wow….thanks for taking the time and energy to write-up each and every dog PLUS a Holiday treat video to boot!! Having a keen observation eye of the whole gang of four-legged wonders is truly a major task. On top of everything else – Best wishes and good karma for the upcoming racing season……Woof and Howl!!

  • I loved this, thank you so much for putting it together! I hope that all the injuries heal quickly so you can get those pups back on the trail soon. Best of luck in the CB300. I will be watching and cheering you on! Go Team SPK!!

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