Thursday, March 26, 2015

Spring Is Here!

I am always extremely happy to see spring arrive and am always very thankful for another safe season of running sled dogs.  Things can get pretty dangerous out on the trail, at times, and I'm always glad we arrive on this side of winter safe and sound.

The longer days and warmer temperatures are so welcome after the cold and darkness of an Alaskan winter.  Record warm temperatures should be "stalled" north of the Alaska Range for the next few days, bringing with it massive melt off of what little snow we did get this winter. 

Spots on the trail prone to the phenomenon of overflow will be filling up with the slushy, cold mess.  Thus the trail is no good for sled dogs and dog sleds.  We begin to pack away our equipment for next season and make long lists of things we will change and do differently next season.

Summer projects begin to come to mind: building new dog houses, terracing more area on our hillside ranch to make a more level dog yard, puppies (the start of our racing bloodline), mending and repairing all the gear and organizing the many trips to summer fish camp to catch the best sled dog food that God ever created - salmon.  This list will become long.

Caring for sled dogs takes year round planning and doesn't stop with the storing of the dog sledding equipment for the warm months.  The work continues 365/24/7.  Every dog musher will tell you they continue on with the work of caring for these great athletes because they love the dogs.  When you recognize how great it is to train, travel and work with sled dogs, how can one help themselves?!?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Iditarod Fairbanks 2015

Wow!  Once again Iditarod restarts in Fairbanks.  After 12 years the Last Great Race returns to the Interior of Alaska.  It was wonderful to see all the super stars of the dog mushing world; Mitch Seavey, Martin Buser, Jeff King, Aliy Zirkle, Lance Mackey and, of course my favorite, Dee Dee Jonrowe.  Great dogs on their way to Nome!

Friday, March 06, 2015

A Push For Change

You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream - C.S. Lewis

It's been a while since I've posted on the blog.  Many changes have taken place at Sun Dog Express Dog Sled Tours in the last year.

At the end of the 2014 season, my family and I began to reevaluate Sun Dog Express Business plan.  What was its reason for existance?  What are our goals?  After 30 plus years of dog mushing and 16 years in the tour business it was time to take a good hard look and think.

We came to the conclusion that our current direction wasn't suiting us.  We didn't start Sun Dog Express with the idea that we were an exclusive "sit your butt  down in the dog sled while the dogs drag you in a circle" tour company.  The dog sled comes to a stop long enough for one person to hop out and another to take their place....and the cycle begins again.  Not only does this bore the dogs but it bored me to tears too. 

I must confess that the trail had become so mundane that I would hear a voice telling dog sled passengers about the trail or dogs and realize that it was my voice.  I could make up my grocery list, think about my favorite t.v. show or daydream while giving a tour and not even remember what my guests had talked about the entire ride.  I had done so many tours.....I was on auto pilot.  Sad thing is guests had no idea.

Our location at 1540 Hayes Street has a quite place when we first opened in the fall of 1998.  The road wasn't maintained in the winter and there weren't any neighbors.  The dogs were in residence all winter (with summers back at our ranch) behind the Beaver Sports Outdoor Center without anyone giving them any mind or bothering them.  In the last 16 years that atmosphere changed greatly.  It became a much less safe place for sled dogs to be in residence at any time.

Thus we made the agonizing decision last spring to close the 1540 Hayes Street dog yard.  For the first time since 1991 there would be no sled dogs in residence behind The Beaver Sports Outdoor Center.

We are still doing tours and schools but on a very limited basis.  We have become a mobile dog sled tour company - meaning we have to hook up a trailer, load up sled dogs, drive to the trail head (18 mile round trip) at our 1540 Hayes Street dog yard, unload sled dogs and sleds, hook up sled dogs, go for a tour or school, load sled dogs and sleds back onto the trailer, drive home, unload sled dogs, equipment and dog trailer.  It's pretty labor intensive and takes a minimum of three hours to complete for even our shortest tours.

Since I've always worked a year round regular job in addition to the dog sled tour company, adding a 3-9 hour dog sled tour/school/clinic isn't possible very often.  Not when I have all the other ranch animals and chores to complete after my return to the ranch.

While the trails at our 1540 Hayes Street location go for miles and miles and are flat as a pancake (which are great for tours), we have been running the same trails since 1991. Angry moose became an issue on many of our training and tour runs.  The area was flat and full of underbrush that moose found irresistable and tasty.  These behemoths found the packed dog trail "plush" and they were remiss to give it up when a dog team approached (especially after a cold spell).  They would prefer to charge/stomp/fight for the trail rather than walk in deep snow.  A fight that sled dogs, unfortunately, always lost.

It is my objective to explain to you what this push for change in the last year has brought to the sled dogs and staff of Sun Dog Express Dog Sled Tours.  While many of you have found it frustrating that we are no longer available, at a moments notice, to take your loved ones and friends on dog sled tours and schools, we appreciate your patience while we change for the better.

Stay Tuned!!

You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream - C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Morning sun rise is so beautiful this time of year (at the ranch - the sled dogs summer home).  Snow is being illusive this winter.  The ground is covered in white but still not enough to run a sled over, much less put weight in the sled. Long range forecasts say it's coming.  Cross your fingers......and your toes!  Back to the Sun Dog Express Dog Sled Tours Home Page.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Fall training has started once again.  It has been somewhat of a challenge due to the rookie leadership the team has this year.  We had many very good leaders "age out" last season and will be unable to keep ahead of the young fast talent in the team.  We are working hard doing runs with the four wheeler.  Our directional commands are rough and need a lot of work but I think we'll get there.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Dog days of summer 2012

It's the dog days of summer.  Although we've not had much heat to speak of this season.  It's been very rainy here in Fairbanks.  We at Sun Dog Express decided to close the summer demo's for the 2012 season.  Looks like fishing, ranching and my "real job" work schedule will make it somewhat impossible to gather sled dogs and transport them to the winter dog yard for such activities.  The Sun Dogs are comfortably settled into their summer dog yard.  Digging holes  and scheduled howling sessions seem to be the norm.  All too soon the snow will return and we will be back to running the wilderness trails of interior Alaska. Photo: Sled dogs busy working on excavating a stump in the summer dog yard.  Chummy supervises.  The hole under this stump is actually several feet deep.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Spring Is Just Around The Corner!

Days are lengthening in daylight and getting warmer. Thoughts can't help but turn to spring and summer. We've got just over a month of good dog sledding left before we'll have to park the sleds and get the shorts and gardening gloves out. As always March won't disappoint with some of the best mushing weather yet to come.

This is our busy time at Sun Dog Express Dog Sled Tours. We've got tours, private lessons and dog mushing schools going on daily. People can't get enough of those "crazy to run" sled dogs. Don't be disappointed and get your reservation in early for the tour or school of your choice! Give our office a call 907-479-6983 or . We're always happy to see you!