Our philosophy is very simple: our canine family is as much a family as our human family and are therefore given the same level of respect and care. We treat each dog as if s/he were our only dog. We are continually learning about dog-speak and pack behavior so that we can not only pay close attention to each dog's mental and physical well being, but also understand it. We do our best to give everyone what they need in order to feel safe, loved and happy. In other words, our philosophy is the same as what the dogs give us; unconditional love!
From this foundation of acceptance and confidence, we then strive to help each dog reach their individual potential. This effort underlies all of our decisions: who lives with who in the kennel, who needs down time or 1:1
bonding time in the house (yes, they can sleep on the bed!), who needs play time in the play yard, who needs to work on a relationship with another dog, who needs to work on a behavior issue, who runs where on the team, and who is ready to try their paw at being a leader.
We are also a forever home; any dog that joins our family through adoption, purchase, or as a puppy bred by us, stays with us. We work with the family we have. This is relatively rare in working sled dog kennels. If a dog has a problem, we do not consider her a problem dog, rather we consider him a dog with problem and we go to work on it. The bonds that we have with these dogs are especially strong. Some of our dogs are speed demons and some are slower, some are young and full of energy and some are older and wiser, some have beautiful conformation, structure and movement and others are a little off in one of these areas of the breed standard. Because of this, our teams will never be the fastest teams or the most synchronized teams, but we definitely have teams that are energized, fun- loving, hard working, dedicated and in love with their life!
"Pedigree indicates what the animal should be. Conformation indicates what the animal appears to be. But performance indicates what the animal actually is." -- Author unknown
Every dog has a role and a niche in the the canine pack and in the human pack (us). These roles change as the dogs change. Everyone runs on the team, some provide friendship to certain other dogs, some help to train puppies, some visit the elderly, and everyone provides us with that unconditional companionship and love that only dogs can provide.
We are often asked about our approach to training. At home, it is based on these 4 principles: a) we establish a strong bond with lots of 1:1 time characterized by fun, positive reinforcement and love; b) we have consistent behavioral expectations and daily routines at home and while working on the trail c) we listen and watch carefully so that we understand what a dog is “saying”; and d) we allow our dogs to be dogs. Once a bond, a predictable environment, two-way communication, and freedom to be a dog are established, the training takes care of itself. Why? Because we respect them and they respect us – and they are very smart!
On the trail, training is more black and white. Running and pulling come naturally to a Siberian Husky and so we do not need to teach them that per se, but we do need to facilitate, to encourage, and to teach the various specific tasks. For example, we provide calm and experienced role models, we show them what a strong forward pull feels like, how not to become tangled in the lines, to stay in their own space and to ignore distraction. We are also always thinking about their health and attitude and asking a lot of questions:
Is each dog running where they are happiest in the team? Is anyone new ready to lead? How is the equipment functioning? Is it time for a different kind of harness? And on and on! It's a work in progress, but that's part of the challenge and the fun.
When you meet our dogs you can see their confidence and happiness in their body language, their eyes, and their enthusiasm for whatever it is that we are doing, especially dog sledding! Nothing makes them happier than a cold winter day (the colder the better), snow and a sled to pull! If you have any thought about it somehow being “mean” to ask them to work, let those reservations go! What would be “mean” to a Siberian Husky is to keep them cooped up in the house with only leash walks; this is not what the running lines of Siberians Huskies are designed to do. This is not to say that they don't enjoy couch time: they do! But not as a steady diet. A Siberian needs to be a Siberian.
- a kennel of happy, fulfilled and friendly dogs who work well with us and with each other
- to keep the dogs physically fit and strive to improve their performance as working dogs
- to share them and the riches that they offer; thus, the hands-on rides and tours for individuals and groups
So how did we come to have a kennel of 35 Siberian Huskies?! First and foremost, we simply love and are intrigued by large breed dogs, particularly working and sporting dogs. I (Kathy) grew up with many such dogs and then when I was 19, began a love affair with a golden retriever, Sean, that lasted
15 years; through college, my first jobs, graduate school, my first marriage – a long time! We were inseparable as we grew up and older together, sharing many adventures and a friendship that knew no bounds. He taught me the wisdom and power of unconditional love and forgiveness as I began to see the world through his eyes and to learn dog speak. Since Sean, four other golden retrievers have graced my life, two of whom were the parents to two gorgeous litters!
As my daughter, Elizabeth had no choice but to grow up with dogs! Right from the start, she snuggled, played and interacted with the golden retrievers, newborn puppies and adults alike, and developed a passion for dogs. She also likes to be outdoors, and as she grew up, she took the golden retrievers on long walks, often hooked up to a wagon in the summer or a sled in the winter. The writing was on the wall! When she was nine, she expressed an interest in learning how to dog sled; I didn’t need to think twice about supporting this interest! She undertook a mentor ship at Vermont Dogsledding in Shoreham, VT and was hooked. I will never forget the expression on her face the first time she drove a team on her own; she was in heaven!
So the stage was set. We adopted two older, well trained lead dogs, Pickett and Spyder, to train us. Alex built her a wheeled cart, we all built a kennel, I mowed trails through the fields on our property, and our learning curve about dog sledding began. From there, it all came came together with something akin to serendipity. We attended a rig race put on by the New England Sled Dog Club with an eye to just watching and learning, but once there, Elizabeth wanted to race. With a mother's trepidation, she did so, and earned a blue ribbon! That event got me thinking more seriously about dog sledding. I began talking with people and reading about it and the more I learned, the more intrigued I became. Then I read Running North by Ann Cook, a marvelous and well written accounting of her family's move to Alaska to run the Yukon Quest dog sled race - with Siberian Huskies of course!. She and I began an e-mail conversation and a short time later Elizabeth and I were having tea with her and husband George Cook at their home. Shortly after that, we picked up two gorgeous Siberian Huskies, Alexandra and Jet, from their kennel, Alkasi'ber Siberians, along with Mintaka from SecondWind Siberians. Thus began our first dog sledding season and life with Siberian Huskies! Little did we know that it would be life changing event.
The first season was dedicated to Elizabeth who loved, trained, raced and took care of our first five dogs. She did so the second season as well, but by then I had decided that I wanted in on the fun …. and so we added 4 dogs to our kennel! And we loved, trained and took care of our 9 dogs together, we dog sledded together and she continued to race.
I was definitely on a slippery slope, but doing OK until Elizabeth suggested that I race the final event of the season, a 2 day race, 15 miles each day, as my 51st birthday present. Nervous, but curious, I listened to my heart and agreed. To make a long story very short, I was smitten, absolutely smitten! The racing was a lot of fun, but what I was smitten by was the experience of working with a team of gorgeous, hard working and dedicated athletes. We not only finished the race respectably, but we finished it by working together; together in every sense of the word. Those two days are in the top ten of my life's memory book!
As they say, the rest is history! We've had 8 litters of puppies (keeping 22 of them), bought 3 puppies and 5 adults from other kennels, and adopted 5 adults. Our daughter continues to love and consult about the dogs, but has ventured into the world to pursue her own dreams, leaving us to take care of the dogs and muck the kennels! And to live a passion!
Click Here To See Our About Us Gallery