The best way to start the morning in Alaska is with PUPPY WALKS!
Vern, Iditarod finisher and owner of the Dream a Dream Dog Farm, explained that the walks are a way to help the puppies gain confidence. They free run with the handlers and usually an older dog. They will run up ahead and then turn around and come back, explore the woods, and generally get lots of good exercise while they get used to their bodies and their abilities. When the gates to the pens are opened, the puppies are encouraged to hop out and trounce down the trail with the handlers (and in this case a rather large group of excited teachers and just as many cameras). The trail at Dream a Dream that we used winds through the woods and includes two bridges over small streams. The first morning, the pups, needed some encouragement to get over the first bridge because they had only seen it once before. When they got to the second bridge, they had to be lifted up onto the bridge and encouraged to cross it because they had never gone that far before. In the days following, you could always tell when the pups reached the second bridge because they yipped and yipped as they called for someone to come and lift them up! At some point a couple of the pups decided it was just as effective to go UNDER the bridge! Smart!
Vern currently has two sets of puppies at his Dream a Dream Dog Farm. One set is six week old twins named Hillary and Benghazi who are puppies of Walnut and were born at the farm. The other set is a group of six puppies from Ray Redington, Jr.’s kennel. These pups are between eight and nine weeks old. They don’t all have names yet, but the theme is going to be Iditarod Jobs… so they will have names like Judge, Comms, Pilot, Vet… We tried to help out by naming a few for him! One is already named Checker…he’s adorable. One of the white puppies always had to be last on our puppy walks. He would intentionally stay behind the last person on the trail. He’d be right at their feet, and if they stopped… he stopped! So we started calling him Sweeper in honor of the Trail Sweepers. Then… of course…. we HAVE to have a puppy named after the Teacher on the Trail!