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.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Athletes: Shilo

Shilo is definitely a special dog in my life. She led my team under the arch in Nome to finish the 2006 Iditarod. She has always been my girl in her mind and mine.

Shilo was one of the 60 puppies that I raised in 2004-2005 while working for Doug Swingley. She was always a shy pup in the pen but had beautiful eyes and was so soft when she let me touch her. That summer, she went to Juneau, AK with me to run tours on the Mendenhall glacier for folks from the crusie ships. She had a lot of issues with the bright sun hurting her eyes so she started spending a lot of time in the tent to stay out of the glare. Needless to say, we got attached.

When I took the dogs home from the glacier, I didn't have much hope for her making the pup team, due to her small stature and the fact that there were still over 40 pups who hadn't been sold at the spring sale. Doug ran her a bit and commented that she was a very dynamic dog. As a man of often few words, that is saying something. So Shilo made the early fall cut and was a good little leader and so made the early winter cut as well.

Shilo ran the Seeley 200 with me that winter for my last Iditarod qualifier and the IPSSSDR in Wyoming as well. Then we headed to AK. Doug wanted me to leave her out of my Iditarod team and put one of the bigger boys in instead. I couldn't do it. And I was so glad in the end that I didn't. Shilo ended up being one of the 3 dependable leaders on the second half of the race. We went straight through Safety (22 miles from Nome) after running 55 miles from White Mountain. We stopped for a couple of minutes there to sign in and pick up our number bib. On my "Ready guys", Shilo screamed and banged in her harness. I pulled the hook and we were off.
Shilo never lacks in enthusiasm and is always ready to go and very vocal about it. If she is not in lead and the leaders are not doing what I ask, she barks and screams at them. When Doug decided to sell Shilo after racing season 2008, I was fortunate enough to get the first call and so Shilo is mine, and she will grow old with me on my couch.

Shilo has a few funny quirks. She doesn't like to lie down to sleep when we are camping unless I lay down next to her. She likes to come inside and will sleep in the middle of the bed all day if I let her. She likes to be co-pilot on any roadtrips we take. Shilo loves the puppies and always wants to play with them. She knows, and rightly so, that she is special. This little lady will likely lead the team a good portion of the way from Fairbanks to Whitehorse in next year's Yukon Quest.

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