Oats is sponsored by Tina Kramer-Christisen.
This dog actually belongs to our daughter Annie. She picked him when he was just a couple days old, and she was a 2 year-old toddler. Digging through a pile of 6 nearly identical puppies, she plucked him out, gave him a nuzzle, and said, “This is my dog Oats.” The next day, she repeated the process. Oats spent much of that summer wrapped in a pink baby blanket, getting pushed around in a stroller. Today, Oats is a powerful young lead dog, one of the largest in the team. This winter he raced in a one-dog race with his musher Annie, coming in 2nd place! She said it would be OK if he raced in the Iditarod too, “In case Dad needs a good leader.
Gamble is sponsored by Hailey Griffin.
Watch for this dog to become top dog in the future! While it’s never a sure bet, Gamble is some young talent that has really impressed this year. Possibly the best dog of his generation in the kennel. He led the team across the finish line in Nome last year as a 2 year-old in his rookie Iditarod. That puppy team finished in 15th place! Gamble was the main puppy leader and key dog in that race, and judging by his performance in training this year, may very well be leading the charge in this year’s Iditarod, this time with the A-team. He is also Mr. Congeniality, and is constantly initiating enthusiastic play sessions with the other dogs.
Ripple is sponsored by Kathryn Fulda.
A maddening mix of exasperating personality traits. Ripple joyfully engages in just about every bad habit that a sled dog is capable of. She chews harnesses, necklines, and dog coats. I carry a special cable for her for camping; otherwise she will chew herself loose and go pester her sleeping teammates. She jumps, 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 I work so hard to instill in my team. She’s also a super athlete, the star of her litter, and is effortlessly running with the A-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.
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 my 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. Those long legs of his could make him a serious driving force at the front of the team, if only he’d focus long enough to learn lead dog commands.
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 has picked two people to bond with, 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 comes 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 is maturing into a stellar lead dog.[close]
The result of an accidental breeding, Moses may not have been planned, but we’re sure happy to have him now. Long, lean, and flop-eared, he has a very different look to him than the rest of our dogs. He’s mellow and sweet, and consistently logs more training miles each season than most of his teammates. His amiable personality towards dogs and people is in sharp contrast to his parents fiery personalities. Now that I think about it, there is a really friendly hound dog that lives down the road…[close]
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. A happy go lucky dog with the most willing attitude, this young swing dog 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.
River is sponsored by Hailey Griffin.
River’s got a tough guy attitude and can be obstinate at times, but that stubborn streak is an asset in an Iditarod dog. Challenging weather or trail conditions will only strengthen his resolve. Not sensitive by nature, he is tough minded and hardy. River’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. He has an alpha dog personality and will only respect a confident musher who has proven that they are a worthy leader.
Rapid is sponsored by Hailey Griffin.
Steady, dependable, and honest. Rapid quietly gets the job done. He’s got the opposite personality as his littermates 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.
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. Already our kennel’s main stud dog, he is top dog. Not bad considering he’s the runt of his litter, and greatly resembles a scrawny orange coyote.
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. Last year he was dropped in White Mountain, 88 miles from the finish line with a sore shoulder muscle. The report from the White Mountain checkers was that Maui started howling mournfully as soon as the team mushed out of sight, keeping everyone up all night long. They made it a priority to get him on the first flight to Nome, where he was reunited with his teammates.
Tide is sponsored by Pat Goodwin.
Tide is the energizer bunny. His energy just 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 rest and relax. He looks like a perfect clone of his father, who is one of the patriarchs of our kennel bloodline. Sleek and muscular, Tide’s youthful enthusiasm has transformed into reliable endurance and speed. It’s no wonder, considering that he’s a littermate to Golden Harness award winning lead dog, Reef.
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. He and his littermate Lobben were the two youngest dogs on the 2015 team; they also made the biggest 'splash' of all the rookies. 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.[close]
Lobben (pronounced low-ben) 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. I 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 last year in swing and 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. This guy is now one of my most trusted lead dogs.[close]
Surf is sponsored by Kathryn Fulda.
A littermate 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 best athletes and lead dogs in the kennel, Surf was a key player in our last two Iditarod victories. He’s a hard driving lead dog who’s an expert at Gee-Haw commands. Small and lively, Surf will likely be one of the main lead dogs on this year’s Iditarod team.
Hero is sponsored by The Walker Family.
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 make it feel 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 two Iditarods, he was conceived at the starting line of the 2010 race. Technically this makes him a 3 time Iditarod finisher!
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. He’s finished in the last two winning teams, and is now one of the top stud dogs in the kennel. He seems to be completely in his element when racing Iditarod, and comfortable with whatever conditions Alaska has to offer. Many of his pups have their dad’s distinctive gold 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 gives 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.
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” gait 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 woodstove. Tux has now grown into a talented core team dog, outweighs the cat by 40 pounds, and crossed the finish line next to his brother Blazer in the 2014 winning team.
Candle is sponsored by Norther 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 me 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. She and her running mate Glitter are the only two females to have made my team in the last two Iditarods, so are usually sequestered in the back. Two pretty girls in a team full of mostly intact males have the potential to cause significant distraction. While the storyline says that the biggest, strongest dogs run in wheel, modern mushing with light weight, steerable sleds instead requires that the dogs towards the back of the team be agile enough to jump over to the other side of the towline to avoid trees or other objects on the inside of sharp corners.
Glitter is sponsored by Ann Marie Cox.
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.
Schooner is one of the only dogs in the team that was not born and raised here at the kennel. We bought him as a big, gangly 6 month old pup with soft eyes. He had only been hooked up a handful of times, and looked like he may get "too big" to race competitively. Now that he’s won both of the Iditarods that he’s run, I’d say he’s a keeper! Schooner has kind of a Ferdinand the bull personality about him. He’s likes to sit like a person, on his rump, leaning back against his dog house with his back legs spread out in front of him just watching the world go by. Not much goes on here at the kennel that isn’t observed by his placid gaze. In harness, he’s just as comfortable running in lead as in wheel, and never really gets overly excited about anything… at least not for long.
Beatle is sponsored by Shelley & Mike Berthiaume.
The old man of the team, Beatle has finished in every Yukon Quest and Iditarod race that we’ve won. He’s won the Iditarod’s prestigious Golden Harness award, chosen by the mushers as the most valuable dog in the race. His father is the famous Zorro from Lance Mackey’s kennel. Beatle is fluffy, happy, and always smiling. An experienced race leader, he knows where Nome is and can be counted on to set a fast pace to keep the team moving. When not racing or training, Beatle flies around the country with Dallas to attend at Iditarod themed key note speaking events.
Gatt is sponsored by The Walker Family.
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.
Photo Credit: Angie Lason Photography