Posts Tagged ‘Chet and Bernie (sled dogs)’



February 23rd, 2016 Posted 7:46 am

Could someone please send in – – photos of all the Snowhook sled dogs named after characters in the Chet and Bernie novels? It’s for posting here on the blog. Thanks!


Iditarod (More) (Corrected)


March 12th, 2015 Posted 8:37 am

There’s a lot of inside baseball sort of stuff in the Iditarod, as we can see from the overnight report from Rebecca (CEO of Snowhook, our team in the world’s greatest sled dog race). But first, here’s musher AJ (Justin Savidis) with two stars of the team at the ceremonial start. Their names: Chet and Bernie! And note the patch on AJ’s arm!


There have been some questions accompanied with a yeep and/or a yark—such is the nature of a Plunderer—about why AJ did not claim his eight in Tanana. This eight is race fan shorthand for the mandatory eight hour layover each musher is required to take at some point on the Yukon River. There is also a mandatory twenty-four hour layover to be taken anywhere and then another eight in the checkpoint of White Mountain.

According to race standings, AJ spent almost eight hours in Tanana, but not quite. It was not enough to declare his eight. This does not worry me. I have full confidence in AJ. However, there are a variety of possible answers to this question. He may want to take his eight later on the river. There are other long runs along the Yukon that would warrant an eight hour layover chaser. There is also the possibility of human error on either the musher or race official’s part. He may have calculated incorrectly, or he may have been told the incorrect time.

The trail is about trusting your training and being adaptive to the reality of the race, good or bad. Weather can be a reality you did not anticipate. Trail conditions can be better or worse than expected. Your own mental or physical can play a role in your race strategy. The conditioning of the dogs, their appetite, and their attitude may require a musher to adjust their plans for better or worse. In 2013, despite running at the front of the pack, the dogs caught a stomach bug. AJ adjusted his race to nurse the dogs to health. Instead of pushing them, he slowed the dogs. He cared for them, and rested them much longer than he planned. They returned the favor when AJ came down with a stomach bug in the final third of the race. He did not slow, but they cared for him by delivering him to the next checkpoint. Things happen on the trail and more often than not, I will not be privy to the story until we reach Nome.

AJ has invested his time, energy and love into the dogs. They know him and trust him. He knows and trusts them. This is why not taking his eight in Tanana does not concern me.

We can expect AJ to twenty-four in Galena.




Go Snowhook (More)


March 9th, 2015 Posted 8:45 am

The Iditarod – world’s greatest sled dog race – starts today from Fairbanks rather than Anchorage, due to weather conditions. Here’s the overnight report from Rebecca (thanks, Rebecca!), CEO of Snowhook Kennel, our team in the race. Sleep seems to be an important factor. Maybe we have a future in this! We can sleep with the best of them! Um, uh. First, thanks to Barb B., heres’s a photo of Rebecca and AJ holding star team members Chet and Bernie (yes!).


Race eve is normally a quiet night for us. Yet, this is not a normal race. Having trucked the dogs north to Fairbanks, we found ourselves searching for a safe place for the dogs in a parking lot of a fully booked hotel when we first arrived. It seemed like a race to find parking for the race. Amidst combat parking at its finest, we separated from the pack of other teams and found a fairly isolated location free of fans and photos on the back side of the hotel. Like us, the dogs need to rest before the race.

Now that the dogs have been walked and fed and walked again, we resume our regular race eve activities—rest and going to bed early. Game day will start soon. With the number of fans anticipated to cheer teams on at the starting line traffic is expected to be extremely heavy. We will make our way to the staging area dedicated for the teams at 6:00 a.m. for a race that begins four hours later.

As the 19th musher, Team Snowhook will leave the starting line at 10:38 a.m. Following the race, I will head to Nenana, the first checkpoint of the race. Here teams can have limited support in Nenana so I will bring a bale of straw and food for both the dogs and AJ. Team Snowhook’s support is more than just me. I am fortunate to have Mick and Jodi—dear friends and a main attraction for visiting Plunderers—to help. Our plan is simple: Mick will drive the truck and tow the trailer with our dog box on it, and Jodi will drive me back home in her car while I watch the damn flag update on my cell phone to show the team’s progress.

Tomorrow will be another long day. Sleep is a must on this race eve. Sleep we must, for we ride before dawn.


Snowhook (More)


March 8th, 2015 Posted 9:13 am

OK. Yesterday was actually the ceremonial start, the actual Iditarod – greatest sled dog race in the known universe – beginning tomorrow. Meanwhile, here’s the first of our overnight reports from Rebecca, CEO of Snowhook Kennel, our team in the race. Below is a picture of musher AJ with star dogs Chet and Bernie (yes!) and one of Bernie alone, wearing an outfit reflective of Hawaiian pants (readers of the series will get the reference. For non-readers of the series, here’s a reason to plunge in.)

Most people sleep in on Saturdays, but not us. Not this Saturday. The work day came early after working late into the night to complete a long list of must-be-dones. We awoke to five inches of heavy, wet snow slushing form the sky. Having loaded up the dogs, we fishtailed our way on the highway until the snow turned to rain as we neared Anchorage for the Ceremonial Start.

It gets quite busy right before the race, and then it gets even busier with race requirements and race festivities. The Ceremonial Start, where teams travel eleven miles through the city streets greeted and cheered by spectators and fans is similar. There is down time, some socializing, photos, official race tasks of verifying dogs, and then it gets very busy, very quick. In a matter of minutes, AJ and I harnessed the dogs, bootied each paw, hooked the team to the line, and waited for a race official to countdown our path to the starting line, “Savidis, two minutes.”

Five…four…three…two…one! The starting line held the best snow we would see during the ceremonial stretch. Warm temperatures and rain turned the trail into less than suitable for mushing. It was a slog. We expected patches of pavement. We expected correctly. We anticipated stopping the team a lot to give them a break from the warm temperatures. We stayed true to our plan. We guessed there might be some slush on the trail. We only get partial marks for that guess. Yes, there was slush, but we had no idea we would be dumping water out of our boots at the end of the run. With some puddles deeper than our boots are high, we returned home waterlogged.

As we prepare to leave for Fairbanks—the location of this year’s restart, we have added drying out gear to that list of must-be-dones. Due to the change in the race course this year, Sunday serves as a travel day so mushers can transport their teams to Fairbanks. Tomorrow will be another long day in a string of long days.

The restart will be held on Monday morning at 10:00.

Both AJ and I want to say a special thank you to the Plunderers who are traveled to cheer for AJ and the dogs (and have given a go at handling) as well as those of you cheering us on in spirit. We are honored to be called ‘your team,’ and hope to make you proud. Thank you for your continued support and friendship.

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