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!

Bert and Ernie

Welcome Bert and Ernie to the Ryno Team!

Bert and Ernie are from the Supai x Izzy litter and recently arrived at Ryno. Ernie is adventurous, outgoing, and fearless. He loves people, isn’t intimidated by the “big dogs,” and is going to be enormous! Bert is affectionate, vocal, and the best cuddler around. He loves to sit in your lap and nestle into your neck. He’s exceptionally sweet.

We’re so excited for this year’s puppy class of Scarpa, Petzl, Bert, and Ernie!

Thanks to Kalyn for all the wonderful photos!

Ernie

Bert

Kalyn and the pups.

The boys

Voting and Reindeer

This blog should be relaxing, entertaining, and educational, so I try to keep this a “no politics zone,” but I hope everyone went out and voted yesterday! The dogs sure enjoyed our trip to the voting booth :)

The reindeer are settling in at their new home at the Co-op. Since they’re the start of our reindeer farm, we figured it’s about time we named them! If you have suggestions for names, please check out our Last Frontier Mushing Co-op Facebook Page and caption the photos of each reindeer with your suggested name. If we pick your name, then you get a Last Frontier Mushing Co-op t-shirt!

But first, a bit about the reindeer. Our farm is comprised of two cows and one bull. Each one has a distinctly different personality. The bull is fearless. He doesn’t shy away from ATVs, the dogs, or humans. While that makes it easy to interact with him, we have to be careful around him, especially this time of year (the rut). His confidence hasn’t translated to aggression, but he’ll protect his gals at all costs. The darker cow is the smallest. Even though she is small, she’s holds her own and will push the bull out of the way at the feeding table. She has a mischievious side too and will dip underneath the feeding table to hang out in the small corral by the gate. The white cow is graceful and reserved. We haven’t interacted with her too much yet. She’s at the bottom of the herd pecking order and is the first to shy away. That being said, I think once we gain her trust, she’ll be calm and docile. I’ve loved working with these three and learning about reindeer! While our three are still pretty standoffish, when handled and socialized, reindeer can become versatile, playful, and fun. I’m so excited to keep working with them and continue to grow our farm!

2 cows (to left) and 1 bull (right)

The Bull

Cow 1

Cow 2

Camping Trips

Over the past week, we’ve been on two different camping trips to prepare the dogs for life on the trail. Most of the team are veterans, so the second straw is laid down, they immediately curl up and catch some shut eye. The two-year-olds, however, aren’t quite as disciplined. They like to play with their neighbor, dig in the snow, or bark at mysterious noises. After a short while, they eventually learn that straw means nap time, and they settle in for a short nap. During both of the campouts, we trained with the dog truck. This means hooking 26 dogs up to the front of the Ford, and cruising down unmaintained back roads. On the one hand, I feel really detached from the team as I roll the window down to yell “Ready, let’s go!” over the roar of the diesel engine. But on the other hand, sitting in a heated cab, listening to music, and making hot, fresh tea with a Jet Boil stove is pretty plush! While I wouldn’t want to train solely with a truck, it sure was comfortable at times :)

Our first camp was with fellow mushers from Squid Acres Kennels and Trail Breaker Kennels. We drove Standard Creek Road just south of Fairbanks. After running for a few hours, we bedded down the dogs for a four hour rest while we chatted with friends, made s’mores, and laughed around a campfire.

A few days later, we went looking for snow and gorgeous scenery on the Denali Highway. The Denali Highway is one of my favorite locations. Take a look at some of these photos, and you’ll see why! We’d stayed the night at Alpine Creek Lodge, and then continued down the Highway the following day, traversing from Cantwell to Paxson. I was very pleased by several young leaders stepping up and charging ahead, even with the chaos of 26 dogs running in a mob. Elmer, Cooke, Wingman, Boone, Jana, Lefty, and Goblin all took turns leading the hoard. Probably my favorite part about truck training is the fact that the whole squad is running together. I can watch all the dogs at one time, and they run shoulder to shoulder, reinforcing the team unity. I feel like a coach, watching their team work side by side, smiling, joking with one another, charging forward driven by a common goal.

Truck training with 26 dogs

Yuker is always doing his own thing. (See black dog upside down in the back).

Wombat and Fenton

Elmer would rather enjoy the view than take a nap.

Starting off from Alpine Creek Lodge