Training

Organized chaos at hook up on a run in the White Mountains

We’re hitting the stage in training where a 50 mile run is a standard distance, and the dogs are muscled up and beautifully fit. Just walking around the yard, their muscles ripple under their shiny coats.

Just out of curiosity, I did a quick Google search of canine V02 max. The internet was quick to come up with an answer. I’m not claiming this is fact, but one website said Lance Armstrong has a V02 Max of 85 ml/kg/min, a race horse has 180 ml/kg/min, and a sled dog has a value of 240 ml/kg/min! After watching this ultra athletes work, it doesn’t surprise me.

We’re also hitting that time of the year when the sun barely crests the horizon. Our current length of day is four hours and eight minutes; however, with dusk and dawn, it’s light for an hour or two on either end. By the Winter Solstice on December 21st, we’ll lose almost 25 more minutes of daylight.

With the long nights, we spend a lot of time doing chores and mushing by headlamp. Unlike normal though, it has been WARM. We’ve had very few days below zero with several even reaching 25 or 30F above! It’s hard to imagine that at some point, we’ll be mushing in temperatures 70 degrees colder than it currently is! For now, we’re enjoying the warm weather and prepping for real winter.


Retirement

Retirement. What does that even mean? For me, as a 29-year-old, retirement seems like a distant time and place that will magically appear once I get older. That’s how it works right? You hit a certain age when your body is tired and your mind is ready for a change and you magically have money in your bank account to relax, explore, and pay for health care? Ok, ok, maybe that’s not how it works. And since dog mushing doesn’t really come with a human retirement plan, I prefer to live by the mantra that if you like your work, you never work a day in your life. So we’ll just keep working!

While I may be nonchalant with my own retirement planning, I’m much more dedicated to the retirement of the athletes. Every time we welcome a new puppy to Ryno Kennel, it comes with the knowledge that we are responsible for every aspect of their life, including retirement. For some athletes, that means living out their days here at Ryno Kennel (like Crazy). For others, it means enjoying a couch in another home as the center of attention. Some athletes retire around eight or nine years old (this is common). Others retire earlier. And when they’re ready, it’s obvious. They might be more subdued at hook up or start to get stiff after long runs or run for the couch instead of the gang line when hooking up. If you listen, dogs are good communicators and let you know exactly what retirement means to them.

We’ve had a few retirees from the 2017-2018 race team, and I realized I have failed to announce their retirements!

Ham and Niagra have retired to train the yearlings. They still run regularly; however, the miles are shorter and there’s much more rest. They might run in a shorter race, but no more 1000-mile races for these two rockstars. Most nights they sleep inside with Tyler, our yearling trainer.

Coot’s Halloween Costume

Kindi is still at Ryno Kennel, but she will be retiring to live with my little brother, Tom, next spring. In the meantime, she’s training the yearlings, getting extra attention during tours, and sleeping inside with Tyler or Kalyn.

Belle, like Kindi, has retired but is at the Kennel until the spring. She’ll be moving in with our friend, Kelsey, as a hiking buddy and companion down in Anchorage. In the meantime, she’s training yearlings, rocking tours, and sleeping inside with Tyler.

Coot has retired to Seattle, WA and lives with our friends Phil and Emily. While Coot is still young, healthy, and strong, he preferred couch time to long races. Now he’s sleeping on Phil and Emily’s couch and hiking around the Seattle area.

Drake and his couch.

Drake has retired to our friend Joe’s recreation team. Drake still loves running and wasn’t quite ready for retirement, but an Achilles injury last winter means that long distance racing is no longer in his best interest. He’s running shorter distances and camping with Joe’s team.

Blitz moved down the road to Jeff and Jeri Reid’s kennel, Frozen Trident. Blitz will be helping Jeff qualify for Iditarod this season!

While it’s always hard to retire an athlete, I try to be the right home for each dog at the right time. These athletes love adventure and running, but like everyone, there comes a time when they’re ready to settle down and lounge on the couch. Whether it’s my couch or another couch, I make a promise to every athlete that I’m planning for their retirement.

And what are the current athletes doing? Well running of course! Here is a short video in front of The Two Rivers Outpost during a night run. So festive!

The adults had an easy day with some free running and relaxation after a couple longer runs.

Cuddle time with Boone on a stretch out walk. Crunch running by.

Yuker, always the bull in a china shop. Fish and Crunch.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is one of my all-time favorite holidays.

1- There’s tons of food. Mushers are always hungry.

2- It’s right around the time we transition from ATVs to sleds, which is the most wonderful transition in the world (especially for my back and my right thumb, aka the throttle finger).

3- We get to spend it with friends and family, both human and canine!

We have so much to be thankful for at Ryno Kennel- from the crew who help with everyday tasks to the sponsors and fans who eagerly follow the kennel to the race volunteers- THANK YOU for making this lifestyle possible. And of course, these incredible canine athletes who every day allow us to be part of their wonderful world full of energy, optimism, and adventure. I’m eternally grateful for them.

Our Run from yesterday-

Some mushing days, the dogs are the only color we see!

Ryno Crew

Training, racing, and caring for a kennel of 45 sled dogs is no small feat, and we couldn’t do it without an amazing, devoted crew of mushers who give their time and energy to this team! We’ve had lots of incredible help in the past, and this winter, we’re lucky to have another top-notch crew!

Kalyn

This season, Kalyn will be assisting with training the adult race team. She has several years of experience training and racing sled dogs, primarily at Manitou Crossing Kennels owned by Jennifer and Blake Freking. For the past three years, Kalyn has handled for the Frekings down in northern Minnesota where she competed in the UP200, Gunflint Mail Run, and Mid-distance Beargrease. With all her experience, we’re so pumped that Kalyn will be helping to train the race team this year! She’s currently entered in the Copper Basin 300. When not mushing, Kalyn’s favorite pastime is paddling in the Boundary Waters or on the coast of Alaska. Kalyn is also a wonderful photographer, so get ready for some great photos this season!

Tyler

We’re thrilled that Tyler has decided to come back for another season of yearling training! This will be Tyler’s third year helping out Ryno Kennel, and his yearling training skills are proven by all the upcoming rockstars. Other than sled dogs, Tyler’s biggest passion is Green Bay football. While training the yearlings, Tyler is also taking an EMT course and doing tours for Last Frontier Mushing Co-op. Thanks for all your help Tyler!