Waylon and Torch’s Excellent Adventure

Waylon and Torch have retired from SP Kennel!

It is always a big decision for us to retire someone and especially someone as iconic as Waylon or with as much potential as Torch. Check out this story (click on red link) for some more information about dogs that have been retired recently from the kennel and our philosophy of “the right home for the right dog at the right time”.

Waylon has done it all! His race history is as long as your arm and everyone loves him. He has never looked like a typical sled dog – Aliy described him as “a crazy faced, brilliant blue-eyed, opinionated, loud, talented fellah. But, what often strikes people is the fact that he has literally ZERO husky fur, enormous rabbit ears and long thin legs. And… he weighs in at just over a sack of dog food = 40 pounds.”

Waylon is as tough and competitive as they come. In the Iditarod 2014 when the team battled through the ground blizzard at Safety, Aliy promised him he could sleep in the bed if he made it all the way to Nome. And he did!

Waylon has a unique “frog bark” and was always so enthusiastic, especially at the start line!

Around this time last year Waylon overcame another challenge when he lost a toe! Check out this story (click on red link) for more information about that. It didn’t slow him down too much and he finished the 2017 Iditarod on the Black Team with Allen.

Torch had enormous potential but was never able to fulfil his sled dog destiny due to an internal thermostat/overheating issue that showed up periodically. When he did run he was strong, focused and talented but we realised he was going to be better suited as a pet and recreational sled dog.

Torch raced in the Solstice 100 and Copper Basin 300 in 2015 with Spencer who said “A yearling who had an exceptional attitude. He always wanted to go and even in the middle of the race was barking while charging up the hills and keeping everyone excited and in good spirits. He ate everything that I put in front of him, and was always the first to rise from the straw and show he’s readiness to hit the trail.”

Torch is on the softer side of the continuum of sled dog personalities and spent a few months living with his much smaller but far more boisterous half-sister, Cayenne, when they were puppies after we separated her from her brother Champ because she would pick on him.

Waylon and Torch travelled together to New Zealand to go live with Sheryll. Sheryll has been Torch’s sponsor since his puppy year and has visited the kennel a couple of times to bond with him. She even travelled to Nome to see the teams cross the finish line of the 2017 Iditarod. Yes, New Zealand is a long distance from Two Rivers, but with a coordinated effort between us, North Pole Veterinary Hospital, an export agent, the quarantine facility in Auckland and Sheryll, they arrived safely and have embraced their new lives.

We’ll let Sheryll take it from here…

Photo: Auckland Quarantine Ltd

“I actually feel like I have won the lottery! Torch and Waylon have been with me for three days and it has been pure magic! They have settled in really well and are extremely cute to watch when they are all snuggled up in their baskets at bedtime.

There are certainly challenges ahead for them – they have moved to a coastal town on the east coast of New Zealand, in the beginning of summer! Everything probably sounds and smells different to them, but they have a remarkable outlook on life and take everything in their stride. 

I have been completely touched by the amount of gifts that have come flooding in in anticipation for the boys arrival; expensive dog food, blankets, high end treats and copious amounts of TOYS! My family, workmates and extended dog family (new and old) are also very excited to have them here in Napier.

They have a new ‘brother’ Rogue who thinks they are pretty cool, and Waylon is enjoying the company of a very pretty Siberian Husky ‘cousin’ called Kaia. Salem, their Border Collie ‘cousin’, will enjoy herding them for years to come! We have taken them out on a few walks and already look forward to winter so we can pop their harnesses on them and take them for a run!

Waylon and Maia
Torch and Rogue
Torch and Rogue
I can’t thank Aliy and Allen enough for this wonderful opportunity! Everyone knows SPK breeds great sled dogs – but how many people know they breed great pets as well?”

Thank you to Joy and Nick Weis and Dow who sponsored Waylon throughout his career and to everyone who ever joined Waylon or Torch’s Fan Club. We know you will miss seeing them at the kennel as much as we will but hope you are excited to hear about their interesting new lives.

Training at Night

Now that the sun is taking a vacation from the Northern Hemisphere, we find that we are often training dogs in the darkness. Of course we use headlights and other artificial lightings.

Artificial lights shine across the rear of the team while we take a snack break.

But, even more special than that, the moon is our friend. The moon was full just a few nights ago. It is glorious to be with a dog team in any conditions but under a full moon is the best!

Patiently waiting under the moon…
No longer patient!

Photoshoot Out takes

Portrait Day at the kennel is always very amusing. Each dog, of course, smiles and poses somewhat differently. And in order to get that ‘perfect smile’ or that side angle appearance those of us “grunts” work very hard: We run in circles, squeak toys, toss gloves in the air, open and close the door, do pull ups (okay… maybe that’s a fib), toss kibble in the air, tease biscuits in front of noses… and on.

“TREAT!” Dancer is dancin’
Spark “I’m really a LOVER!”

The other problem is often the glove that is being tossed in order to get that “be in love with the camera” feeling from each canine, is tossed right in front of the lens. No… I mean… RIGHT in front. Those are of course the best shots.

Chevie – “What the…”
Junior “Come on Aliy. Can’t you throw?”

Much of the time patience is really what works in the long run. Is this a lecture? Yes… patience. Give each pooch a chance to assume a position that they are comfortable in and have them focus on Jeanne and her camera lens. But, sometimes the focus isn’t quite on Jeanne. Sometimes a dog is just is happy being themselves and NOT posing.

Outlaw “HOWL!” for me Baby.
Perky FEELING the moment!

Two people generally stand on either side of the dog. Two leashes are sometimes needed, but not always. The “grunts” have to remember that THEY are not the object of the photo shoot. That can be tricky at times. Because as magical as Jeanne can be with photoshop and removing leashes… she can not remove an entry human leg or head from the frame.

Nomex: 2 Big Heads/ one frame!
Five legs might be TOO many,

And of course we have to end with our annual shot of the ONE the ONLY… Tig. Also known as.: The black floppy eared dog that fetches sticks and doesn’t pull.

For those of you who might feel that we are a bit ‘unkind’ to Tig during the Halloween season, take note: she ripped the ghost costume to shreds when she jumped out of the log dog house. Apparently there will be no more ghosts at SPK on Halloween! Party pooper.

Barista Wins Fan Club Draw

Sincere thanks to everyone that has become a member of our Dog Fan Club. It is just so neat to us that you love our dogs like we do and you are willing to join their fan club to show your support.

Congratulations to Carol Griffiths who is a fan of Barista! In celebration of the entire ‘Coffee Litter’ (Barista, Bean, Sanka, Creamer, Perky and Decaf) Carol wins a SP Kennel ‘to go’ hot beverage cup and a small sample of North Pole Coffee Musher’s Blend Roast. Perhaps we will toss in a few a Sipping Streams Tea sampler in case Carol is not coffee inclined.

Barista is one of the two-year old class that has amazing potential and drive this season. She has a bit of a ‘look at me’ attitude more than her siblings. Apparently Carol thinks she is special. Funny thing… we do too!

Our next random draw will be on November 12th.

You can find out about each dog here (click red link) and Join the Dog Fan Club here.

Join the Dog Fan Club

Iditarod / Dallas Seavey SP Kennel Statement

Understandably, SP Kennel family, friends and fans want to know what Aliy and Allen think about the Iditarod / Dallas Seavey controversy.  Aliy released a written statement to the media on October 23, 2017. The statement is here:

I will tell you that I have always known Dallas Seavey as an honest and upstanding Iditarod competitor. I do not believe that he is a competitor that would break the rules. Any rules. I have raced against him for 10 years. I have beat him and he has beat me. He beat me to the Iditarod Championship by 2 minutes and 22 seconds. I do not begrudge him. He beat me – fair and square.

I do not think that he gave those drugs to his dogs. Obviously his dogs were given drugs – but by whom or why? – I don’t know.

There are people in the world who truly believe that dog mushing is cruel and should be banned. Of course, this is far from the truth but lies can be told about any subject and some people believe them. I guess the question is: Are there really people radical enough to actually give drugs to his dogs in order to undermine an honest, hard working, good man? Crazy speculation… I know! But speculation seems to be all we are left with now.

To be honest, in Alaska we are a trusting and open armed community. We invite spectators to pet our dogs, we share intimate stories about mushing and we hope that people celebrate dog mushing and our huskies like we do. It is for this reason, it would not be difficult to have walked up to any one of Dallas’ dogs after the race or even during the event and given them a “drugged” biscuit or treat. His dogs, like mine, are incredibly friendly and are used to kind gestures and treats. There is no strict security around Iditarod dogs. There are volunteers who watch the dogs because they love dogs but they are not police. No one ever would have thought that true security teams would be necessary in wilderness Alaska? But… who knows with what people are doing these days. I do not know who drugged Dallas’ dogs, but it was not him.

After speaking with Dallas, the ITC Board and the ITC Staff, an additional statement is included here on our SP Kennel website:

Allen and Aliy believe that there are not ulterior motives among the ITC staff or Board of Directors. Aliy is in the unique position of having served as a Director on the Board alongside this dedicated and thoughtful group of individuals who volunteer a tremendous amount of time and effort to serve in an often thankless position. The ITC staff is passionate and truly cares about the race and the Iditarod mushers. They try to do what is best for both. This… of course, is the challenge.

We do not believe that Dallas intentionally gave drugs to his dogs. We understand that he is feeling cornered and vulnerable. He doesn’t know who to trust. He knows he did not drug his dogs, but he cannot determine who did. This is an awful, unfamiliar position for a man who has dedicated his life to being an upstanding Iditarod Musher. He is in a no win situation.

The ITC Board and staff are also in a no win situation. The facts say that one of their most talented, well-liked Champions, had four dogs test positive for banned substances. But, the ITC Board and staff do not know who administered the Tramadol to Dallas’ dogs. Dallas Seavey has not been penalized or banned from the Iditarod.

Race sponsors and individuals who care deeply about ‘The Last Great Race’ are being asked to “take sides”. In truth, there are no sides. There is no “us and them”. Without the ITC there are no Iditarod Mushers – without Iditarod Mushers there is no ITC. We need unity in our sport. We need sponsors and fans to again have faith is the ITC Board, Staff and Mushers or there will be no race.

We, as a united group, should continue to seek the truth. Yes… there were mistakes made by all parties during the 6 months timeline for this incident. But, if for no other reason than the fact that four Iditarod dogs were illegally drugged, we need to work together to make sure this cannot happen again.

Allen and Aliy are willing to work together with any and all parties concerned to resolve this issue for the benefit of the Iditarod, Dallas Seavey, Race Sponsors, Volunteers, all the concerned fans, sled dog lovers around the world and every one of us at SP Kennel.

What’s on the Horizon?

Of course, like everyone else in the world, those of us at SPK have a lot going on right now. Some of it gets us down, some is terribly exciting and some is just daily trudge. We plan to keep our heads up, keep living the honest and true lives that we have always lived and keep doing our best to enjoy every moment that we have with each other, our awesome dogs and the community that supports us and celebrates with us.

This photo was taking this morning at the kennel. ‘What’s on your Horizon?‘ You never really know … but it’s amazing to look out there, think about it and try to reach it by simply doing the best you can – all the time.

We have snow!

Winter has recently settled in at the kennel with several inches of snow covering the ground. There are still some deep unfrozen puddles hiding under the white. Some team members do their best to tippy-toe around the water: Prata and Spark. And some team members don’t have a care in the world if they get their feet or entire body wet: Outlaw and Sandy. To each their own!

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