Snowhook Update

As some of you know, this blog – and an enthusiastic sub-group called the Plunderers – are big supporters of Snowhook, a wonderful and humane dog-sled racing kennel up in Willow, Alaska. The Iditarod is the big race, of course, but there’s way more to it than that. Here’s an update from Rebecca, Snowhook CEO. (AJ’s the musher.)

“If I’m not mistaken there are some key sporting events this weekend—the Broncos and the Patriots battle for the Super Bowl among them. For us at Snowhook, it’s a little closer to home.

Snowhook found the starting line of the first mid-distance race of the season on Friday. AJ left the start of the Northern Lights 300 relaxed and calm (such is the nature of my particular musher even when facing competition). However, there may be an added reason for his laid back approach to this race, make that two reasons.

One, he’s not racing to compete. That’s right, AJ is racing to not race. There is no purse, no monetary difference for coming in first or last place or any of the positions in between. For AJ, it will a fun run. This brings us to the second reason we can expect to see AJ hold back on his competitive spirit. The second reason is bib #12, a bib number belonging to a musher who left the starting line a little less calm and not quite as relaxed as AJ. And, for good reason. He’s a rookie.

Joe has his sights set on running the Iditarod next year. To do that, he must qualify—much like the Broncos and the Pats must qualify to play in the Super Bowl—by completing at least two 300 mile races and one 200 mile race. Once a musher crosses the finish line in Nome, he or she does not need to re-qualify to race again in the Iditarod. With the burled arch in Nome in mind, he approached Snowhook last fall to achieve this goal. Since that fall day, Joe has given this goal his full commitment.

As a veteran of the Iditarod, AJ does not need this race, but Joe does. Veteran mushers have all been rookies, including AJ. The learning curve for mushing is steep, and the learning curve in racing was straight up for us.

In Snowhook’s first race, we did a lot of guessing on how to prepare, what to include in drop bags, and how to plan a run/rest schedule. And, our learning the hard way continued on the trail. Once AJ reached the layover checkpoint of his first race, he searched to find his race routine. As he tended to his dogs, a young racer approached him for a favor. The favor?—He quietly asked AJ if he could undo the knots on his bib for him. “My mom tied double knots and I can’t get into my pockets. Mushers keep everything from booties to ointments for the dogs and snacks in their pockets. Pockets are important—lesson noted and learned.

In that same race many years ago, another rookie lit the sleeve of his parka on fire while showing off. Believing that going up in flames is a poor race strategy, AJ advised this musher to stick his arm in the snow—near disaster averted. Once the band of race rookies–their numbers around AJ growing— finished their chores, one asked AJ what they should do next. His response was simple: I have no idea.

Success for AJ in this race is seeing Joe complete the first of three qualifiers.

Thank you to the Plunderers for making this and many of AJs starting lines possible.”


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This entry was posted on Saturday, January 23rd, 2016 at 8:12 am and is filed under Chet The Dog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

80 Responses to “Snowhook Update”

  1. c.hobbit
    8:32 am on January 23rd, 2016

    Woo Hoo. First from the Portland Airport. An almost 3-hour layover but I didn’t notify ALR in advance as it is way too early to do a meet and greet. I’ve been up for 19 hours and hope breakfast will keep me going. Another long flight to Hawaii coming up.
    Happy trails to the two Snowhook teams.

  2. Herd of Hounds
    8:36 am on January 23rd, 2016

    Good morning, everyone! We have really enjoyed watching AJ’s flag jump up and down πŸ™‚ Thank you for the update.We hope all that have a stormy day stay toasty and dry. Our snow is at only 1/2 inch but the wind is from the northwest and a bit more snow is falling. Don’t know if we can get down the driveway yet but will content ourselves to snow romping, eating treats and napping.
    Safe and someplaces stormy Saturday to all.

  3. Herd of Hounds
    9:03 am on January 23rd, 2016

    Safe trip Hobbit. Return home with a beautiful bronze tan πŸ™‚

  4. Tupper's Mama
    9:29 am on January 23rd, 2016

    Hobbit – Hawaii. sigh. Oh, how we wish we were going too. Have a fabulous, sun-drenched time.

    Snowhook – we just seem to find more and more reasons to respect AJ. Cool runnings to him, his team and to Joe.

    No flakes here. At least none of the snow type.

  5. dawson
    9:53 am on January 23rd, 2016

    Thanks Spencer, Admin and Rebecca for giving us this update on Snowhook Kennels dog teams.

    Go AJ and Joe!

    Hooray for Ole Doc, soon to be renamed Squished Doc once Rio starts reporting in ernest.

  6. dawson
    9:56 am on January 23rd, 2016

    CHobbit: Lucky you! Enjoy your vacation in Hawaii.

  7. Staff
    10:04 am on January 23rd, 2016

    Hawaii. Dawson, Staff and A Catty went there in 2000.
    Heh heh heh
    If I remember how it went… A Catty asked one of us, maybe Mom, to come with her and her new husband on their honeymoon and play with her daughter so A Catty and the new husband could…um…honeymoon. It ended up with everyone but the Turtleman and his wife going. We rented a house and had fresh pineapple and played cards.

    Personally I think it was a great honeymoon. snicker.

  8. Staff
    10:05 am on January 23rd, 2016
  9. BearSpiritDog
    10:20 am on January 23rd, 2016

    A Big Thank You to the BDHW for Race Particulars. We will be watching today.
    Cool Runnings to AJ and Joe.

    Loved the Moon Video.

    Happy Hawaii, Hobbit!

  10. B. Stover
    10:57 am on January 23rd, 2016

    Go Snowhook!

    Good morning all.

  11. Bella Rossa
    11:33 am on January 23rd, 2016
  12. Howlers
    11:35 am on January 23rd, 2016

    That was very early morning. We have at least 2x that much now.

  13. Tupper's Mama
    11:38 am on January 23rd, 2016

    Dear Bella Rosa – my dear, we think you are more likely a Frosted Donut.

  14. Staff
    12:11 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    tupper’s mama. A frosted donut. LOL.

  15. Masquers
    12:30 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    Bella…a frosted Donut. Lol.

  16. ALR
    12:31 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    C.Hobbit at PDX for 3 hours and I missed out? You gotta plan your layovers a little later in the day, Ms. Hobbit! But truly, we could have had breakfast. Next thing for you will be fresh pinapple and other delectable. Enjoy!

  17. Rio - The Evil Pug
    12:55 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    Staff!…I just wanted you to know that my friend spent her whole Sat. morning setting up my stinking printer….grunt!…The whole basement is a mess again because she was determined to find that printer cord and get the new wifi network connected….yeeesh!….It ended up being a comlete uninstall/re-install situation…sniff!

  18. BearSpiritDog
    1:08 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    Rio: Of Course…Murphy’s Law.

  19. Bella Rossa
    1:30 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    Youse won’t be laughing at me when you need me to do that serum run.

  20. Herd of Hounds
    1:41 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    Bella Rossa, what a large donut you are! Husky indeed, you ae ready to graduate to cruller!

  21. BearSpiritDog
    1:43 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    O’Howlers: Youse are Living the Dream.

  22. BearSpiritDog
    1:45 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    Bella Rossa, the Newest SnowDog, in particular.

  23. BearSpiritDog
    2:00 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    B! Did you know it is National Pie Day? I’ll have Banana Cream with a dollop of Whipped Cream on Top.

  24. BearSpiritDog
    2:00 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    Oh, and I forgot the Magic Word…Baseball!

  25. BearSpiritDog
    2:03 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    Time for Lunch!!!

  26. Herd of Hounds
    2:28 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    So much going on. Rio, wake Ole Doc up and give a report, please. We are worrit about all except the Tropical Hobbit.

  27. B. Stover
    2:41 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    Bear: No I did not know that. One banana cream pie coming up!

  28. Rio - The Evil Pug
    2:50 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    Team!…The Team is resting at Finger Lake….snort!…Nothing else to report from Atop Ole Doc!….Whoa Doc, Whooooa!wheeze!

  29. Tupper and Gilly
    3:30 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    Does anyone have a guestimate on when AJ and Joe will finish the race?

    We would prefer a sweet, gooey and crunchy pecan pie. However, we can’t have the crust, the pecans or the sugar…so therefore, nevermind.

  30. B. Stover
    4:02 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    Tupper and Gilly: Pecan pie is my favorite….

    This blasted ipad keeps offering suggestions. It just made those names Tupperware and Gillyflowers. I will be so glad when my laptop is fixed. (I’m saying bad words………)

  31. dawson
    4:17 pm on January 23rd, 2016


  32. Martha
    4:23 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    How about Haggis Pie? Zoe and I just returned from a Robert Burns birthday celebration, put on by The Berkshire Highlanders. My older son is a drummer with them. The event included pipes and drums, some singing of a few of Burn’s songs, an explanation of the outfits they wear, and the traditional parade and stabbing of the Haggis, which is encased like a sausage. There was even a Burn’s poem in praise of Haggis. What fun! No snow here. I am glad.

  33. Wookie's and Teddy's Dad
    4:50 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    Snow, snow, snow, snow, and then some more. And we still have about another five to six hours to go before it ends. It will definitely be at worst the second worst snowstorm to ever hit the DC area (the winner being the Knickerbocker storm of 1922, which saw 28 inches drop on DC)and who knows, we may still beat that. The biggest problem now is finding places to shovel the snow too. We have mounds that are several feet high in various places. Teddy’s friend Oscar just stopped by and they romped in the back yard some. This is what our back yard now looks like (looking through the doors at the back of the great room)

  34. Herd of Hounds
    4:55 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    The Weather Channel just said that OFA and his neighborhood should get the “best” (or is that worst or most?) of the storm.

  35. Staff
    5:08 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    Wookie’s and Teddy’s Dad, According to NOAA you guys should be about 44 on Tuesday. If I were there I would be worried about flooding! Sheesh.

    (Although usually after a snowstorm the weather is a lot colder than the meteorologists think. Snow reflects the heat more.)

  36. Tupper and Gilly
    5:12 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    Bee – maybe your ipad isn’t so bad – Gilly’s full name IS GillyFlower – it is the name of colorful Welsh flowers adored by the fairie folk, and tradition says they dress their loyal Corgis in wreaths of gillyflowers before riding them through the meadows.

    W & T’s Dad and Mom – hope you have lots of ways to stay warm, safe and dry. Same to OFA. Not so much as a single snowflake here, but did that keep people from emptying the grocery store shelves – no, it did not.

    Silly humans.

  37. Barb, Maggie and Lucy
    5:24 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    skies are totally clear here also. Just a little snowfall coming in the next week.

    Stay safe those in the path of the storm. Amalia, I thought you were in the projected path. You aren’t that far from Cape Cod are you?

  38. Barb, Maggie and Lucy
    5:35 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    I see that Boston is only predicted to get 3-5″ of snow and you are about an hour west of there, right?

  39. Howlers
    5:41 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    We have over 2 feet of snow, but it has drifted so much, we can’t measure it. It is above Mom’s waist at places. The ‘rents are hoping to get off this farm by Easter. In the meantime, Pop is starting a fire in the tavern woodstove, and we will be having a P-A-R-T-Y!!
    We Howlers are exhausted, but we are ready to roll just as soon as the door is opened again!!!
    {sorry, Barb}

  40. Zoe Montague
    5:42 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    Martha and I had a great time at the Berkshire Highlander’s concert as she told you. See Facebook for a picture and some music. Will is the tall red head/red beard with drums.

    Rebecca, that was a great update about the racing. Thank you.

  41. B. Stover
    5:47 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    Stay safe Wookie and Teddie’s Dad.

    The first time I heard about gillyflowers was in Brideshead Revisited. I like the fairy story…wonderful image.

    I turned off autocorrect but still hate the ipad. However one positive thing about it is that the images are wonderful. (The reason I bought it several years ago was for an app with van Gogh paintings and also a site on Eliot’ poetry.)

    I’m watching a dvd of a series called Shetland. The scenery is beautiful.

  42. B. Stover
    5:51 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    Martha: I’m not sure what haggis is but I like Robert Burns.

  43. Ole Doc
    5:54 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    Mother behaved herself after my arrival last night. Not once did she open the closet door to help her to the Slim Jims. Still, I slept with one eye open except for when I didn’t.

    While Luna was busy supervising my Lady work with Joe’s drop bags for another qualifier that he’ll run next month, Belle Starr landed atop me atop a pile of Slim Jims in my closet at Rio’s. I was surprised to see her, but she had my Lady’s debit card so we could pay for hot wings. Well, I could hardly tell her to go home after that. I would leave that to Luna.

    AJ has left the Finger Lake checkpoint and is just over halfway through the race. I expect him to finish tomorrow afternoon. Until then, it’s time Rio and I put a dent in this stash of Slim Jims.

    This has been the bucking bronco, Ole Doc reporting from ‘neath Rio, but atop Slim Jim heaven.

  44. Martha
    6:15 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    Haggis is made of lamb. Should you ever have the opportunity to try it, do. After you try it then check out the ingredients. Think lamb sausage.

  45. c.hobbit
    6:40 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    ALR: I am not a morning person so it is just as well we didn’t meet.
    Howlers: I didn’t know you were moving so soon. For some reason I thought it was the end of summer or fall. You don’t mess around when you decide something!
    Mr. Staff: I am missing the Anchorage folk festival for the second year in a row. Grump. I need to plan my trips better.

    I arrived in Hawaiii tired and headachy. I’ve slept 2 hours in the last 29. I’ve checked into my hotel and am resting and reading. Part of our hiking has been changed due to an outbreak of dengue fever. A small bag of stuff didn’t make it into my suitcase–annoying but I’ll survive. I am trying to slow down and be on island time.

  46. dawson
    6:52 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    CHobbit: I remember a flight from Seattle to LA to Hawaii. I did say I would never do that again. But I would. Rest and relax then enjoy.

  47. Rio - The Evil Pug
    6:53 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    Ole Doc!…You beat me to the Report…snort!…I’ve been a bit busy munching on wings and slurping on Slim Jims…heh!heh!…I will try to be Atop you for the report….chuffle!burp!

  48. dawson
    7:00 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    Wookie’s and Teddy’s Dad and Howlers: Those are impressive amounts of snow. Looks like fun!

    Martha: Robbie Burns, yes. Haggis, no.

  49. BearSpiritDog
    7:07 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    Microwave just Broke and the Hot Wings situation for tomorrow’s game is dire. Nana had to pry the door open with a screwdriver…Back to the Seventies we go.

  50. B. Stover
    7:07 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    Thank you Martha. I think haggis sounds good.

  51. Masquers
    7:12 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    Doc: Thank you for the race update. Both Snowhook teams are looking good!

  52. Rio - The Evil Pug
    7:29 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    Nana!….This is a huge Calamity!….gah!…Whatever will you do? No hot-wings at game time is totally unheard of….dammit!

  53. Rio - The Evil Pug
    7:34 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    Up!….Rio here reporting from Atop Ole Doc…Whooooaaa!…Settle down you old filly!…snort!…Our Team is at or near or maybe even past mile marker 152.6. So they are well past the halfway mark of this 300 mile race…chuffle!…Looking good and running strong!….Wooooo!…Old Doc just stand sti…

  54. Tupper and Gilly
    7:38 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    Barb – we haven’t had a bit of snow, but 20 minutes away, they have an inch or two. We are on the opposite side of the state from Boston. Most people take about 2 1/2 hours to get there from here. Mama, on the other hand, tends to make the trip in much less time.
    If any of you watch the weather channel, they have a person reporting from Falmouth on Cape Cod – home of OFA. The storm is BAD out there.

    Hoping that AJ and Joe are having a grand time, racing across the sparkling snow.

  55. Rio - The Evil Pug
    7:45 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    Falmouth!…Good Golly! What if Admin and Spencer’s electricty goes out and they cannot watch the big play-off game….gah!gah!gah!….Hang in there Admin…wheeze!

  56. Ole Doc
    7:47 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    Sorry, Rio for moving unexpectedly. I thought I heard Mother coming and my first that was to protect the Slim Jims.

    To clear up some discussion about my girth last night, I’m what you might call a cushioned. Wyatt is the skinny Outlaw. I’m the good looking one despite what the Thieves would have you believe. Rio will be plenty comfortable as race reporter.

  57. Teddy the Quilt Supervisor
    7:55 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    Stover — you might want to check out the description of haggis on the internet before deciding to try it. Just saying . . . .

  58. Thieves!
    8:01 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    BStover: We agree with Teddy. We recommend fish heads instead. You can never go wrong with a good fish head.

  59. Herd of Hounds
    8:06 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    HRH B, Do NOT ask about Haggis…disgusting!

  60. B. Stover
    8:31 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    You guys are making me laugh. Okay, I will check it out.

  61. B. Stover
    8:36 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    “Sheep’s pluck”…oh dear….

  62. Rio - The Evil Pug
    8:41 pm on January 23rd, 2016


  63. Herd of Hounds
    8:42 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    HRH B on your own, Love all involved and hope the evening and snow go well.
    And let Dog and mom and the DDD have their house soon.

  64. Martha
    9:14 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    Haggis that is made in America is not the same as that made in Scotland. I have tasted some Scottish haggis. I prefer the tame American version. But I am sure that any Haggis cannot compare to fish heads. At least I am sure that I will not be comparing them!
    cHobbit: Rest and enjoy. Give no thought to us here…

  65. Martha
    9:23 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    If I am reading the tracker correctly, it looks like AJ is doing great, and Joe seems to be doing fine. I am sure it is due to some certain Slim Jims that are being consumed.

  66. BearSpiritDog
    9:23 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    It’s a Full Wolf Moon Tonight

    Siber-H, I know you’re watching.

  67. Masquers
    9:25 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    Martha: Is that a tiny note of sarcasm I hear there at the end? Heh, heh.

  68. dawson
    9:28 pm on January 23rd, 2016


    AJ and Rick Casillo are neck and neck. Rick is a friend of a friend of Mollypop’s and Loulou’s Mom and runs dogs to support the Wounded Warriors. I met him and his team in the parking lot of the hotel I stayed at in Fairbanks.

  69. Masquers
    9:30 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    RiΓ΅ and Ole Doc, Wake up! 5th place!..are we in 5th place?

  70. Mpop and Loulou's Mom
    9:38 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    Dawson, I’ll be getting a haircut this week from Josie. She’s friends with Rick Casillo’s sister. He’s from a suburb of Buffalo.

  71. Barb, Maggie and Lucy
    9:45 pm on January 23rd, 2016


  72. Ole Doc
    9:54 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    Masquers: We weren’t sleeping. We had a hot wing eating contest between the tracker updating. Do you have any idea how hard it is to type with paws covered in the goodness of hotwing sauce? It’s not pretty, but so, so worth delicious.

  73. Thieves!
    9:55 pm on January 23rd, 2016


    Barb: How about us? Are we forgiven?

  74. BearSpiritDog
    10:03 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    Slim Jims! Hot Wings! I’m Hungry.

  75. Herd of Hounds
    10:10 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    Dawson and BSD, no hagis just gross meal.

  76. Rio - The Evil Pug
    10:31 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    MollysMaw!…You crack me up! Your hairdresser is a friend of a sister of a Musher…snort!…But you yourself have met AJ the Giant The Musher…chorkel!…And he even took you for a ride on his sled with his team. I think You Trump!…heh!heh!

  77. Rio - The Evil Pug
    11:06 pm on January 23rd, 2016

    Update!….Dr. Joe has 52+ miles till he gets to Talvista which is where Our Team finds themselves resting and relaxing for the next stint of the race…snort!…Which will begin dawg knows when…heh!heh!…From Atop Ole Doc, this is Rio reporting…burp!

  78. Thieves!
    12:22 am on January 24th, 2016

    While Joe is still en route to the Talvista checkpoint, AJ left said checkpoint after a few hours. Yeep! This has been Ole Doc reporting from my Closet at Rio’s place.

  79. Luna
    5:22 am on January 24th, 2016

    The Giant has reached the final checkpoint before the finish line! This is Luna reporting after delivering a vat o’ beer to Rio’s house while Rio sleeps in his warm, soft bed and Doc is curled and snoring on an impressive pile of Slim Jims.

  80. Howlers
    8:42 am on January 24th, 2016

    Happy Sunday! We hope Spence and Admin are okay. The New Jersey shore is flooded way worse than they were with Sandy. It is awful down there.

    We think the Hobbit misunderstood our comment about getting out of this farm by Easter. We aren’t moving then; we are only hoping to dig our way out to the road by then. Heh!

    Fern spent yesterday and last night with her sisters, because snow was blowing into her coop. She is still in the big coop now. She is sort of burrowed down in one of the nest boxes, and we aren’t sure if she will get to eat. But Pop opened their little ramp door this morning, and spread some hay. So hopefully the sisters will venture out into their run, and Fern will venture to the food.

    We have been out of touch a lot with our wifi coming in and out. Can someone please post the link to the tracker for AJ’s race?
    Oh! And There was a big earthquake in Alaska. Rebecca posted that her power is out. Lots of folks report being awoken in the middle of the night.

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