So this year we’ve made some major changes to the way we travel and we’re pretty excited about them. Our mobile setup is an important part of our success — especially given that our kennel is not located on a good trail system. Although we are hoping to buy property up near Willow or Talkeetna in the near future, for now, we live out of our trucks.
This year we have added a 24ft enclosed trailer capable of towing 23 sled dogs to our trainings arsenal. The trailer is set up so we can bring our ATVs or sleds — or both if necessary early on in the year or in years like this where parts of Alaska still hurt for snow. The trailer also has a separate living quarters “away” from the dogs that we can use while training.
Although we haven’t finished it yet, when we are done it will have a small wood stove to help keep us warm and dry out our gear as well as two bunks. This trailer will be primarily used for longer trips to the Denali Highway, Fairbanks, or Eureka, Ak when we plan to set up and stay some place for awhile.
What’s really nice is that the trailer has lights inside so we can operate without headlamps. We are hoping to add an outlet for charging our phones or cameras too — if we can do a little wiring.
We also just built two dog boxes for a 2-place snowmachine trailer. This will comfortably hold 10 dogs and has space to haul an atv or dogsled. This will be great for getting to and from races where we don’t need something quite as bulky. It also allows Travis and I to go train in different parts of the state. Here’s a quick video I took of my trailer recently in Turnagain Pass, about 1.5 hours North of Seward. In 2012 the snow was so high on either side of the highway it was like driving through a snow tunnel…not this year!
Each trailer has spots where we can “drop” the dogs — which is really just a fancy way of saying we’ve stuck a bunch of eyebolt into the trailer to tie dogs off too so they don’t run around and create chaos. We have had lots of success loose dropping our dogs in the past — meaning we open the doors and let the whole gang run around but mushers get uneasy if you do it around their teams. After last year’s Copper Basin, we loosed dropped the dogs because that’s what we’d been doing all season without any problems. It’s a lot easier with 12 dogs, however, than with 30 or 40!
Dropping dogs is important because the dogs need to be let out every 4-6 hours to pee, stretch their legs, eat or go for a run. In addition we also have an 8 hole dog box for Travis’ truck and are working on a small, 6 hole dog box for my truck. I’m not sure how much we will use the 6 hole box but if we need it, we will have it.
Mobility is import for us not just for training but also is an important part of our emergency planning and natural disaster preparedness. We love our home and kennel in Seward but are unfortunately situated in the middle of a flood zone. When we first moved in to our home in 2012 we were completely caught off guard when our home and kennel flooded, forcing us to evacuate the dogs. We watched the water level rise by the hour and at one point, after the dogs were out of the yard, had to go out and secure our dog houses so they wouldn’t float away. It wasn’t a fun time for us, that’s for sure!
Today, we have completed a few years of hard work to make sure we are ready in the event we flood again!
In total, we can now move 47 dogs without double boxing or using crates. Travis said, “seeing as we’ve had one flood and a couple close calls, I’m really grateful not to have to worry about how to transport our dogs anymore.”
We’re really excited about the freedom our two different trailers will give us moving forward! It’s currently raining in Seward (gross!) so Travis is living out of his trailer with his dogs and so you can bet I will be packing up and moving out shortly!
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