Guest Author - Dawn Engler
Watching the Iditarod for the first time, I've become seriously enamoured with the dogs and their mushers. If your trip to Alaska allows some free reign, consider working one of these kennel tours or adventures into your itinerary.
Mushing champions Aliy Zirkle and husband Allen Moore own SP Kennels in Two Rivers is outside of Fairbanks. They offer real outdoor adventure trips that take you mushing into the wild! If a week on the North Slope mushing, camping, and being with nature is too much for you, they also have workshops. These are held at the kennel in Two Rivers and are geared to achieving goals (of any kind) while learning the basics of working with dogs or even more in depth of learning how to start a kennel and run races! Outdoor adventures are usually in spring/summer and the workshops late summer into the fall.
Iditarod winner Martin Buser and family run Happy Trails Kennel in Big Lake, Alaska off the Parks Highway just west of Wasilla. Here you can meet the dogs, (the puppies usually get most of the attention), enjoy learning the history of the Iditarod Trail, with Martin himself telling stories of trail adventures. Watch a demonstration of the dogs being harnessed and pulling a sled. Have your picture taken posed as the musher driving the team (don't expect a ride...it takes practice to learn how). Tours here last as long as you need it to; it takes time to play with puppies!
Down south off the Seward highway, you will find the Seavey family homestead. The Seaveys have 1st place winners in the Jr. Iditarod and the Alaska Iditarod in 2012, and three generations have finished the Iditarod in 2012. This is a family raised with the dogs and they know how to raise dogs! Stay in one of their cabins, book tours to see their dog kennels, and get a sled ride. If you can make the time, a full day tour includes visiting Seward, Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park, lunch and then a one and a half hour sled ride behind a team of huskies!
You can learn some wonderful things about these dog teams, their mushers, handlers and the history of Alaska all while having some great fun with the dogs themselves. Learn why the preservation of dog mushing is important and how the care of these dogs is first and foremost in the minds of all who work with them. To make your reservations, visit individual websites here: