Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Denali Park, Alaska: Husky Homestead

It takes about $100,000 a year to put together a winning team for the legendary Iditarod Race in Alaska. First prize is only $50,000. Therefore, you have to do something to make ends meet.

Jeff King, a four-time winner, has come up with an unusual method to balance the books. He gives tours of his training complex. It's called the Husky Homestead, and it's wonderful.

Start with the fact that guests are handed a puppy when they get off the bus. Awww. In our case, the dogs were five weeks old. It's actually good for the dogs to interact with people right away. You can see people melting into puddles as they pet the dogs.

After that, guests stay outside and are given an explanation of what happens at the complex. The best part of that comes when King picks out some dogs for a demonstration of a training run. The dogs make all sorts of noise in an effort to be picked - running is what they love to do - and the sound is loud and wonderful. By the way, as soon as the sled is loaded and gone, the dogs immediately quiet down. It's an amazing transformation. That's King in the picture, playing with one of the dogs. Staff members then review how the complex works.

Everyone then moves inside, where King does a presentation on his view of the Iditerod. He explains what goes into a winning team, and how the race is run. The dogs basically can run about half the time in the race from Anchorage to Nome (1,100 miles), sometimes in an eight hours on-eight hours off format. You may think this could get dull, but King has the timing of a standup comic. He's funny and interesting.

Here's someone else's video of the visit:


I couldn't find anyone who went to the Husky Homestead and didn't have a great time. When in the neighborhood in the summer, be sure to drop by.

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