Posts Tagged ‘Whitey-Lance’

Iditarod (3)


March 9th, 2016 Posted 6:58 am

The Iditarod overnight report from Rebecca, CEO of Snowhook – our team!

In a thousand mile race, what you hope for and what actually happens are two different things. For us, what we hope is that what we plan for is closer to what actually happens on the race spectrum. While you would not hope to be hood up on the side of a trail with a broken runner, it does happen. With a low snow year, AJ sent out a second sled to McGrath before he left the starting line. This kind of planning did not take a crystal ball. Both pain and experience are a beautiful teachers. In 2014, AJ pulled into McGrath driving something that once had resembled a dog sled and traded it for a second sled he sent to McGrath ahead of time. The second sled that year was courtesy Rose and Grizz from Chet’s blog. What was a luxury for Snowhook, became a necessity.

The broken runner that AJ limped into McGrath from Nikolai yesterday is not to the extent of 2014’s damage, but it is not the first time AJ has experienced actuality vs. hope on the trail. In 2012, his sled was damaged, and again in 2013. Not only did AJ ship out a second sled this year, his normal practice is to carry a small tool kit in his sled bag. Did he try to make repairs on the trail or while the team rested in Nikolai?—It is possible. Maybe the possible repairs were enough to gracefully get the team to McGrath, maybe not. In any event, I can hear AJ’s voice saying something I have heard him say to mushers and fans, ‘Whatever happens on the trail, that’s you’re new reality. You have to make it work.’ This is true. Although there are somethings like trail conditions that are out of a musher’s hands, there are somethings that are in the squarely in the musher’s mitts.

The dogs do the running, but the musher makes the decisions. Each of these decisions—when and where to rest the team and for how long, what to feed, to bootie or not to bootie—impacts the dogs and ultimately your race for better or for worse. It is not just the decisions made after the five, four, three, two, one at the starting line that count. Training matters. Being a presence for and with the dogs so they have confidence in their musher when things are uncertain and difficult (like breaking a runner in the Farewell Burn) matters. Trust, attitude, consistency—it all matters. All these factors are a choice that AJ can make or not make. Either way, it impacts the dogs.

Breaking a runner was not part of Snowhook’s race strategy, but preparing for the possibility of it was part of the plan not just by sending out a second sled, but by establishing a relationship of consistency and trust with the dogs. The team ran at least 48 miles with a broken runner, but now in McGrath—the base of Operation Find Whitey-Lance in 2010—AJ will switch from his broken sled to his finishing sled.

How else does McGrath play into Snowhook’s planning?—It will serve as the home of AJ’s mandatory 24 hour layover. There, AJ and the dogs will rest, eat and repeat.

And here is team member Fritz (thanks, Dawson):



Snowhook Patches! Featuring Chet And The Legendary Whitey-Lance!


February 5th, 2013 Posted 8:34 am

“And they can be yours,” Admin says. “You can sport one of these beautiful patches – designed by Melanie, Plunderer extraordinaire – and at the same time support the wonderfully humane Snowhook Kennel in the their racing endeavors this winter. All proceeds will go toward dog care and remaining race expenses.”

“The patches,” says Spence, “are three by four inches and cost $15.00 USD per patch for orders shipped within the United States, shipping & handling included, $20.00 USD for orders shipped outside the U.S. Patches can be ordered online at Here’s what Rebecca of Snowhook has to say:”

‘Last year, Snowhook proudly displayed Chet the Dog patches specifically designed for our 2012 Iditarod race on our parkas, dog jackets and sled bag.  This new patch—what the Plunderers are calling the ‘forever’ patch—is timeless and features Chet and Whitey-Lance, Snowhook’s infamous wanderer waiting for the team under the burled arch which signifies the finish line of the Iditarod.’

Here’s the patch – Chet on the left, Whitey-Lance on the right.


Welcome Monty, Pixie & Bean.



Congratulations, Correction, Follow-Up


January 28th, 2013 Posted 7:48 am

“First,” Spence says, “congratulations to Snowhook for their great 5th place finish in the Northern Lights 300.”

“Second,” says Admin, “a correction. We messed up yesterday regarding the redoubtable Whitey-Lance – he wasn’t on the team yesterday.”

“But Marco – Whitey-Lance’s son – was,” says Spence. “At least until Justin noticed his wrist might be bothering him and sidelined him for the duration of the race. Here’s a post-race story about Marco from Rebecca. Kind of reminds me of someone we know.”

We waited for the call to tell us Marco, the second of Snowhook’s dropped dogs and son of Whitey-Lance was ready to be picked up after being flown to Willow from the checkpoint where he was dropped.  Marco displayed the signs of a sore wrist on the the trail, and taking no chances, AJ dropped him as soon as possible.

As we dozed off and on throughout the day, both AJ and I trying to catch up on some much needed sleep, we received a call Sunday afternoon.  It wasn’t the call we were expecting.  Instead, we were told Marco was loose on the run way and asked if we could go to to airport to help catch him.  We donned our cold weather gear, fired up the dog truck and headed for the small airport. 
When the volunteers opened the door to the plane, Marco jumped out and over the head of the volunteer, and channeling his father, Snowhook’s infamous wanderer decided to go on a walkabout, running free on the straightaway the runway provided.  When we arrived, he was zigging, zagging and ran into the trees, past a volunteer and sped down a trail.   We followed him in the dog truck.  Now, away from strangers trying to catch him, we parked the dog truck, got out, called his name and he ran straight into AJ’s arms.  After loading our pup in the dog truck, we thanked the volunteers who tried to help and were nervous with worry, and finally headed home.  Marco is a good boy and will make a full recovery. 
Welcome BJ, Bear, resting buddy.

Auction Action!


July 2nd, 2011 Posted 8:25 am

“Today’s the big day,” says Admin.

“I’m excited,” says Spence.

“But first you have to explain the what and how, as clearly as possible,” says Admin. “I’ll just go out on the porch and finish the coffee.”

“But – ” Spence rubs his forehead, that way he has when he’s hoping to get something started. “Hmmm. OK. Today the online auction begins. Is that clear enough, Chet?”

Not really, but I like watching that forehead thing.

“All proceeds benefit the Snowhook Kennel up in Alaska, to help them – meaning Rebecca and AJ – run their wonderful team, led by the doughty Whitey-Lance, in Iditarod 2012. They’re a wonderfully humane, dog-loving couple. All kinds of great items are up for bid. Bidding begins at 12 noon, EST. Good luck, everyone!”

“Tell them about the link, for God’s sake!” Admin yells from the porch.

“I was getting to that,” Spence yells back. “All you have to do is go to this link:”


The Books

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