First off, a HUGE HUGE thank you to the incredible handling team of Derek and Tessa. Derek has taken on all the thankless tasks in a kennel (fixing trucks, fixing sleds, fixing cabins, fixing gear, sewing gear, fixing other things), and for that I am forever grateful. I tend to break things rather than fix them, so thank you Derek for helping me keep life in order. Tessa, thank you for flying all the way up from California to pick up dog poop, pack drop bags, rake up straw, and get no sleep. This is Tessa's second season handling during Ryno Kennel races, and I feel so reassured knowing that our handling team is beyond experienced. Thank you Derek and Tessa!
Now on to the Canine Athletes- Fun Facts About the Team:
9 female athletes (10 if you count Ryne) and 3 males athletes
2 years- 1
3 years- 5
4 years- 5
6 years- 1
35-40 lbs- 2
41-50 lbs- 5
51-60 lbs- 4
61-65 lbs- 1
Fire- So many good things to say about this dog. She’s always happy, loves her job, has total confidence in her leadership skills, passes teams without once looking in their direction, and above all is incredibly trustworthy. Fire has my total confidence. I owe a lot to this little dog.
Cartel- Cartel really stepped up her performance in this race (if that was even possible). She’s such an intelligent dog that she knows the difference between racing and training. In training, it’s not uncommon for Cartel to test the rules and see how much mischief we’ll let slide; however, come race day, Cartel is all FOCUS. She was a hard driving speed demon who regularly led with Fire, including on our final run to the finish line from Mendeltna where we posted the fastest time by 28 minutes!
Ham- This gangly boy once again proved his drive and focus. Ham and Katy led on the two longest stretches of the race: 73 miles to Meiers Lake and 85 miles to Mendeltna Lake Lodge. When not leading, he shined as a cheerleader in the team, getting everyone excited to run as he continually slammed, and slammed, and slammed his harness. Good thing I could set a snowhook!
Katy- Katy aka “The Cheetah” was partnered with Ham to lead on the long sections of trail. She charged ahead, and rather than settling into her normal smooth trot, she loped almost the entire race! Katy’s struggle has always been her slimming figure and occasional picky eating, but this year Katy has fantastic weight and is looking stronger than ever.
Fez- Fez missed the first part of the training season due to a wrist injury from a porcupine encounter, but wow, am I glad she is back and 100%! This little dog has finished every race with me, and I surely would have missed her on this Copper Basin. Fez was always happy, sassy, and ready to rock. She’d spring up from the straw and trot around in circles until it was finally time to leave. Fez is a hard-working energizer bunny!
Perm- Loud, sassy, in your face- the perfect dog to get a team fired up to run. The moment I started to stir and gear up the team to leave a checkpoint, Perm would immediately be on her feet and doing her loud yawn/bark/whine, wagging her tail, and prancing around in the straw. Her recovery time is incredible. If everyone got out of bed immediately as happy as Perm, then the world would be a wonderful place.
Kindi- I ran Kindi and Supai together for a few reasons: (1) They eat EVERYTHING, always. If they ran next to anyone else, then their partner would be shorted on their meal. Kindi always ends up with a food baby, but I’m not sure where she gets all her extra food from. (2) They’re both red. Yes, it’s fun to color coordinate the team. (3) Their tails wag in unison. Kindi’s tail never stopped wagging. Even when she rode in the sled for the last 4 miles of the race, she was smiling and happy. There is never a sad day in the life of Kindi.
Supai- Supai was stellar as always. Like Fez and Rucu, he has finished every race with me. Slow or fast, hills or flats, Supai was barking and excited to go with a tight tug to match. His croaking bark could be heard over everyone else whenever we were ready to leave a checkpoint. I can’t imagine a team without Supai in it.
Rucu- Rucu had a fantastic race, but did struggle with the warmer temperatures. When our speed picked up in the flats, he would keep up but not necessarily be a driving force. I have to note, he is a 65+ lbs dog, which is typically detrimental when trying to go fast. Luckily, he pretty much single-handedly pulled the sled up every hill and made up for any coasting in the fast flats. Like Supai and Fez, Rucu has finished every race with me. Such a special dog.
Jana, Drummer, and Pirate all joined us from best friend and fellow musher Amanda Gecas at Boundary Sled Dog Kennel. This is their second year with the Ryno Team, but I’ve known them since they were yearlings. Thank you to Amanda for allowing them to join Team Ryno!
Jana- Jana is a fast little loper that helps drive the team’s speed. Like her sisters, Drummer and Pirate, she ate everything in sight and always had a great attitude. She rarely makes noise or draws attention to herself, but the second you start moving, you know Jana is in the team.
Drummer- Drummer is a quieter, more shy version of Jana. She’s easily overlooked because she is low-maintenance, which might not sound like much of a compliment, but in the sled dog world it’s huge. She always ate, always pulled, and always was excited to do her job. Great little dog Miss Drummer.
Pirate- Pirate reminds me of a large dinosaur or a body builder. Or a body building dinosaur. She’s exceptionally muscular and weighs in at 57 pounds! Like Rucu, she struggled with the higher speeds in the flats, but she was a powerhouse in the hills. Pirate also ran on my 2015 3rd place Copper Basin team, so I was ecstatic that she would be running another season with Ryno Kennel.