Anyone who has been following along with our tour business, Last Frontier Mushing Co-op, has probably seen photos of our reindeer. I’ve had several folks ask me, why reindeer? And my normal response is- why not?! I’ve always dreamed of having a farm, and reindeer are the ultimate arctic farm animals. Their coats are exceptionally thick, so frigid -50F temperatures are no big deal. In the winter, the reindeer eat the snow for hydration, so a water trough isn’t necessary. They’re browsers, meaning that our fields of saplings are PERFECT habitats for them. Seeing as caribou and reindeer are just different subspecies, they’re essentially made for the Arctic. I love watching them eat and move. They’re curious and agile. Long story short- who wouldn’t want a couple reindeer?

In our pursuit to begin a reindeer farm, we (Last Frontier Mushing Co-op) purchased three reindeer last fall- Ronin, Chisto, and Olive. A bull and two cows, these are to be the foundation of our new herd. They were all about one and half years old and had lived most of their life in the company of other reindeer, not humans. Ronin, with his bullish confidence, has learned to tolerate us, but Chisto and and Olive are a little more timid. Because we hope to incorporate reindeer as an educational and interactive component in our tours, we decided to not overly stress Ronin, Chisto, and Olive and instead focus on socializing their future offspring. Unfortunately, Mother Nature decided our herd wasn’t ready to produce calves, so we decided to acquire two new bull calves with whom to begin training. And guess what- they arrived yesterday! These two boys are already quickly warming up to their new human and canine herdmates. As I type this blog post, I’m sitting in their pen, watching them nap, snore, and burp. Such cuties.

Napping Boys

Dog Runs and School Portraits

Temperatures have been getting cooler and the pups are feeling SPUNKY!

We’ve been regularly taking out 10-dog teams for a short two miles to stretch their legs and get them warmed up before we start fall training. Even though they’ve hardly gotten their heart rate up by the time we return to the yard, these shorter distances are perfect for newbies like Scarpa, Petzl, Bert, and Ernie. All four of the yearlings have been rocking it!

I took a short video of a training run this morning. The team comprised of Lefty and Crunch leading followed by Faff and Yoshi, Smoky and Bowser, Thresher and Scarpa, Petzl and Mario, Otis and Bull. Lots of youth and lots of enthusiasm!

Yesterday, Scott Chesney with Tailspin Media came out to the kennel for our yearly school portraits. This is Scott’s FIFTH year of doing portraits! Thank you Scott! Some of the dogs are photogenic and require little distractions. Others require just a squeaky toy. And others require squeaky toy, weird animal sounds on the phone, and exaggerated flapping movements by the entertainment staff (aka me).

Derek, Bowser, Saeward, and Scott behind the camera.

Bert loved have Scott visit!

Amelia and Ernie

Jana and Bowser

Jana and Bowser

Cooke and Ewok

Cooke and Ewok

Tobin and Rose

Meet the latest recruits to the Ryno team- Tobin and Rose!

These two youngsters joined us from Tagish Lake Kennel.

Rose is super friendly and playful. She’s always the first to come running when called and loves people. She’s long-legged and isn’t afraid of the big dogs.

Tobin is adventurous and little more aloof. He does enjoy attention, but he prefers running through the trees and exploring. He picked up “sit” quickly. He’s fearless and will take off sprinting down a trail even if no one else is joining him.

If you followed the World Cup this summer, you’ll probably recognize the theme! These two pups are named after Tobin Heath and Rose Lavelle who were two of my favorite players to watch. Hopefully these two will be champions like their namesakes!



Yukon Quest!

I just love this race so much that we’re headed back for the 2020 YUKON QUEST!!!!! Woot woot!


August 3rd was signups for the 2020 Yukon Quest. Ten mushers signed up on the first day, and we’re excited to see several friends on the list!

  1. Rob Cooke (V) - Whitehorse, YT

  2. Brent Sass (V) - Eureka, AK

  3. Lori Tweddell (R) - Whitehorse, YT

  4. Richie Beattie (V) - Two Rivers, AK

  5. Louve Tweddell (R) - Whitehorse, YT

  6. Dave Dalton (V) - Healy, AK

  7. Torsten Kohnert (V) - Lapland, Sweden

  8. Cody Strathe (V) - Ester, AK

  9. Ryne Olson (V) - Two Rivers, AK

  10. Denis Tremblay (V) - St-Michel des Saints, QC

We’ve also heard of a few mushers who intend to sign up later this fall. Cough cough…Michelle Phillips, Ed Hopkins, and Chase Tingle!

We can’t wait to share another 1000-mile race with all the Ryno fans. For this year’s Quest, I’m pumped to have our same human players- Derek, Kalyn, Saeward, Katy (mom)- plus one new addition- Tom! I’m so excited to have my little brother Tom helping out this season. As for the canine athletes, we should have an amazing crew this year! We have a really strong 3-year-old class who are poised to challenge some of the older veterans for their spots on the Quest team. Stay tuned for a pre-season athlete report to get the update on all the canine athletes.

And more exciting news- Ryno Kennel will soon have puppies! There has been a bit of radio silence this year as our planned breeding of Loretta and Coupe (Squid Acres Car Litter) didn’t result in puppies, but we will soon have FOUR pups joining us from other kennels! Arriving today from Michelle Phillips and Ed Hopkins in Canada are two pups, and later in September, two pups will be joining us from Jen Lebar (these two will be half siblings with Amelia). Photos and more info soon to come.

The mushing season is just around the corner- thank you all for continuing to be part of the Ryno Team!