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September 12, 2009

Cat Bullet

Alaska Interlude: Trail Breaker Kennels

Filed under: Travel — Cat @ 1:38 pm

Our recent trip to Alaska was absolutely fantastic. I have hundreds of photos to go through. Rather than try to process them all at once, I’ve decided to produce a series of “interludes”; posts that have a few pictures that are all related in some way or another… They will be posted at random intervals, determined by how much time I have to go through the photos. Hope you enjoy.

Alaska Interlude: Trail Breaker Kennels

We had a Riverboat trip scheduled for our first day in Fairbanks. Along the banks of the river, the riverboat company had arranged several demonstrations. One that I especially enjoyed was the stop by the Trail Breaker Kennels, a dogsled racing kennel that was started by Susan Butcher and her husband.

Susan Butcher was a woman who won the Iditarod Dog Sled Race four times. By all accounts, she was an amazing woman.

Trail Breaker Kennels

The dogs that are used at this kennel are Alaska Huskies – very powerful dogs with tons of stamina, and even more enthusiasm. And lots and lots of “yapping ability.”

When the Riverboat pulled up to the banks, a nice young lady came out. She had a radio headset so she could talk to us and answer questions. As you can see, she had a friend with her…

Dog talk

After she talked for a while, they started hooking up some dogs to the “summer trainer”, which was an ATV with everything removed except for the brakes. The dogs were already in place, but they were connected with their collars, not the harnesses.

Waiting their turn

As the handlers moved along the line, they connected the harnesses and disconnected the collars (dogs would hurt themselves if they pulled with their necks, so the harnesses distribute the strain across the chest, shoulders and back).

Wanna GO!!

Finally, all of the dogs were hitched up proper, and very excited.

All excited

Finally, the brakes were removed and the team was off!!


They really flew. They ran out of the yard and disappeared for a while. Then we could hear them coming back, and faintly see them in the distance. Look at the dust they are raising!!

Dust trail

They ran back through the gate:

Coming home

After they stopped, the handlers unhitched the dogs, who promptly ran straight into the river to cool off…

Cooling down

…and to get a drink

Slurp slurp

It really was amazing to watch (and hear). All of the tails were wagging and ears were up. They were obviously very happy and well cared for dogs. The demonstration was one of the (many) high points of the trip.

Is it any wonder that later that afternoon I fell temptation to the following?

Dog Sled Team

Hand painted sock yarn by Fireweed Dyeworks (Nancy Sopp). Color name: Dog Sled Team

pitter patterpitter patterpitter patterpitter patterpitter patterpitter patterpitter patterpitter patterpitter patter


  1. Cool!
    And I don’t blame you for grabbing the yarn. I love commemorative yarn.

    Comment by gale (she shoots sheep shots) — September 12, 2009 @ 5:21 pm
  2. What fun to relive the trip. More to come I hope?

    Comment by Mom — September 12, 2009 @ 7:02 pm
  3. The young lady’s name is Alyasa Quayle (not sure about the spelling.) She has done some racing but I don’t think she has tried the Iditarod yet. But watch for her name in the future.

    Comment by Dad — September 12, 2009 @ 8:15 pm
  4. I am looking forward to the Interludes to come. Thank you for sharing!

    Comment by DonnaW — September 12, 2009 @ 9:19 pm
  5. Loved the photos and the information along with it. I bet that was a fun thing to watch. Just gotta love those dogs and the yarn is a perfect way to remember them.

    Comment by cheryl — September 13, 2009 @ 7:17 pm
  6. It seems this was a fortuitous time for me to rediscover your blog. Thanks for the virtual tour!

    Comment by Kim — September 14, 2009 @ 1:27 pm

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