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.