Thank you to all sponsors and fans for your support and encouragement. Without you, not only would Evening Star Kennel been absent from the 2010 Yukon Quest, but this incredible sport and these wonderful dogs would become a thing of distant memory. I thank you from the bottom of my heart and I hope that you have enjoyed following this amazing event.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Athletes: Jersey

Jersey is Annabel's personable sister. I think Jersey got all of her sister's social confidence. When I do school presentations, Jersey is the one trying to tempt the kids over to her for pets and play.

Jersey also joined Evening Star Kennel in October 2007 as a yearling. She drove me crazy the first few months of running because she was so crazy to go that she would get herself wound round and round the gangline trying to find a spot for better leverage so we could go faster. Though Jersey doesn't like to run in lead very often, she never falters or slacks off in the team. Jersey was also in my winning Siskiyou team and ran in swing (just behind the leaders) the whole way.

Jersey is a very easy going dog and gets along with everyone in the kennel and loves to play with anyone who might be in the mood. She is a tough girl and I can always count on her to do her job whatever the circumstances. I look forward to another season with Jersey and taking her for the long haul in the Yukon Quest next year.

Jersey loves to pose for photos (unlike her person).

The Athletes: Annabel

Annabel is my shyest dog. We have made a lot of progress since she first joined the kennel in October 2007. She is very unlike her overly friendly sister, Jersey, but now that we have become very good friends, she has become an amazingly reliable lead dog. She will go wherever I tell her to go, as long as there are no crowds of people.

As a two year old this year, Annabel led 2 of 4 legs during the Siskiyou race and loved every minute of it. She is a hard worker and a real clown once she knows you. Annabel is a picky eater and is often skinnier than I would ideally like to see her. She is getting spayed this spring to help her hold her weight as well as taking off the pressure of her heat cycle. She doesn't like it when the boys like her so much.

Annabel has become my good buddy and makes me laugh everytime I see her. She doesn't like for people to touch her, but she likes to touch them. She always seems to be laughing when I talk to her or do something silly to amuse her. I have invested a lot of extra time trying to befriend Annabel and earn her trust. I expect this time will pay dividends next year during the Quest as it has already begun to this year in training and racing. Watch out for Annabel next year. I expect her to only get better and better.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Athletes: Charlotte

Charlotte is another yearling, soon-to-be 2 year old, who ran with us in California at the Siskiyou. She was one of the dogs that I wasn't totally confident about taking. However, she earned herself a spot on the team for next year for her performance in the race. Although she didn't finish, she could have. I made the decision to drop her at the last checkpoint while she was still having fun. She was starting to get sore and having a hard time keeping up on the downhills. She was still pulling her heart out on the ups and flats and never thought of quitting. I have to admit that surprised me a bit.

Charlotte grew up in the puppy pen with Margaret as she came from the Parr's kennel as a little one as well. She was queen of the puppy pen and always had to have her own food dish. She wasn't into sharing even at 10 weeks old. Charlotte is a very quite and mellow dog except during hook-up. Then I get to hear all sorts of noises that I can't believe come from that sweet little dog. Though she loves all people, Charlotte doesn't like the other female dogs very much, especially when they get to go do something she doesn't get to do.

Last summer, Charlotte was one of my best jogging buddies. Due to her quiet nature, she was easy to manage as she sticks close by and is OK with my measly human pace. I expect Charlotte will continue to mature and develop. Hopefully as a two year old, that perfect gait of hers will help her to stay fit and heathly all the way through the Quest.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Athletes: Goon

Goon is "Miss Muscles" and, despite her small stature, she is one heck of a dog. This little girl was just a yearling this year, but she finished in the winning Siskiyou team. She never faltered and finished happy and ready to go some more.

Goon joined Evening Star Kennel last April when she was nine months old. I made a "little roadtrip" to Steamboat Springs, CO to visit my friends Tom and Tami Thurston. (Check out Tom's first Iditarod at Some of Goon's littermates are on Tom's team.) I had a great time seeing where they live with their 30-40 huskies and came home with 5 8-9 month old dogs in the back of my Subaru stationwagon. Goon was the female I picked for myself despite her smaller size. I was sure she was a super athlete and I know her mom and her dad to both be exceptional sled dogs. Goon proved me right.

We had a hard time bonding at first. Goon has always been extrememly confident and she was sure she was the queen of the dog yard. She got in a few scraps that resulted in her respecting the older females but still pushing buttons with her peers. But this all changed once we started fall training. Goon is a hard worker and has taken her uncanny self-confidence and made herself a leader. She proved her athletic abilities and her tough head during the season and Goon isn't going anywhere, except to the 2010 Yukon Quest as one of my leaders.

Keep an eye out for Goon in the future. She's easy to spot with her distinctive spots and goofy grin!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Athletes: Whitney

Whitney went from a pretty good puppy last year to a superstar leader this year. She was born in 2007 and is a daughter of Doug Swingley's Peppy from his last breeding season. Whitney was outshone last year by her sister, Detour, but this year, Whitney was the unflappable one. I got Whitney in October 2007 from the Swingley camp along with Detour, Annabel, and Jersey who were all the same age. They had never been run by anyone but me. I harness broke the pups for Doug and Mel earlier that spring while they were on a horse trip and I was dog sitting.

Whitney is one of my smaller dogs in a kennel of reletively small sled dogs. She may be blond, but looks can be deceiving. This smart little girl is a very responsible leader and takes her job in front of the team very seriously. She keeps the line held tight and keeps everyone moving at a good pace. She is getting very confident in her turning commands. And best of all, Whitney led a team last weekend for my friend Goob in his first sled dog race in Polebridge. And they had the fastest time of the whole weekend in the 6-dog class.

Whitney is a very happy dog and smiles a lot with her squinty eyes and always greets me with a good "woo-woo". She thinks she is queen of the dog yard which is a tough position to claim around here with 75% of the dogs being female. (and me, of course.) But she gets along with everyone and doesn't let anyone push her around.

I expect to see Whitney become even more confident and reliable in lead next year and am sure she will be making the run with me from Fairbanks, AK to Whitehorse, YT. More pictures coming soon.

Annabel & Whitney

Whitney & Margaret

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Athletes: Margaret

Margaret is a sweet but tough girl named for one of my favorite female authors, Margarat Atwood. I got Marge as a puppy in 2007 from Butch and Sara Parr, friends and neighbors who were also my hosts when I first moved to the area. Margaret was always a noisy pup and had something to say about everything. She was a big girl right from the start and liked to play.

Although she doesn't like Charlotte very much, Margaret gets along with nearly everyone and even gets some of the older (and sometimes grumpy) females to loosen up and play. She loves attention and will hardly leave my side when she is loose after a run. When she started running in harness at 6 months, Margaret was a natural. She never looked back. Because she never looked back, she was soon leading the team, when she was only 8 months old.

The 2008-2009 season was her first season racing and she did extremely well. Margaret finished in my winning Siskiyou team and lead the second leg in the middle of the night when I could hardly stay awake. Most leaders do not learn turning commands until they are in their second year. Margaret has proven to be smart as well as tough. She is already quite responsive to "gee" and "haw".

Keep an eye on this one. I expect Margaret will be an important leader in next year's Yukon Quest, as well as a great spirit booster to the rest of her team, dog and human alike.