Dog Care and the Sky High Kennels

The Sky High Alaskan Huskies

When people hear the term ‘sled-dog’ they often picture the classic purebred Samoyed, Malamute or Siberian husky. Very few mushers use purebred huskies for long distance touring or sled dog racing. In fact some sled dogs do not resemble traditional huskies at all. So you will see cross breeds that are usually leaner in build with a more pronounced tuck-up. Alaskan Huskies were originally cross bred with Husky German Short hair and greyhound and as a result are easier to train and more athletic. Today most mushers breed their own dogs and at Sky High we do as well, however we also rescue dogs from the shelter and get puppies from mushers we know. Most of our kennel is neutered and spayed to prevent "surprise" litters and we usually have only 1 to 2 litters per year.

Dog Temperament and Pack Mentality

All Dogs need a dominant, alpha leader; a being who is calm and very strong-minded. Dogs instinctually crave this leadership and guidance. Dogs are pack animals and that requires the kennel manager/owner to be dominant over his/her dogs. Being dominant over your dog does not mean you should be cruel or negligent to your dog. It means you must communicate to the dog who the leader is going to be. Pack leaders are not aggressive, angry or bossy. Lower members of the pack are not fearful of the pack leader, but rather respectful. The pack leader is the stronger minded being, calm but very firm. Pack leaders set rules and they expect them to be followed; they set boundaries and they expect them not to be crossed; they place limits on what the others are allowed and not allowed to do and they expect everyone to stay within the limits. Pack leaders are not dominant-aggressive, they are calm-assertive. You are looking for respect from your dog, not fear. When a dog respects you it will happily want to follow you.

Our Kennel

Our kennel is located in a treed area and there is natural shade on warmer days. Each dog has an area that is approx 7' X 7' in size and their leads are on a swivel and 6' long to enable plenty of room and private space for each dog. The houses are made of wood, with removable roof and floor to allow easy cleaning and airing. The Kennel is scooped twice per day. We have free run pens where our dogs have time to socialize with other dogs in the kennel on a rotation basis. Our Kennel is well socialized with humans - right from the moment they are born they are free run and handled regularly. When they are older, guests are encouraged to get right down on the ground and play with them in the puppy pen. This is excellent training for future sled dogs. Our dogs are fed a well balanced diet of protein, fat and vitamins which is adjusted in summer to be lighter in fats. All dogs are de-wormed regularly and vaccinations are kept updated to prevent illness and promote optimum health.

In summer half of our kennel moves to Tutshi Adventures where they run wheeled cart tours. Famous Quest Musher Michelle Phillips owns this kennel and is well know for her great dog care in the Yukon. In 2009, she received the Vet's Choice award for the Yukon Quest for providing superb care of the dogs. Michelle strives for excellence in dog care — and works year round to promote the sport of dog mushing. They run on shaded forest trails with pit stops that have access to wading pools for getting wet and water for drinking. At the property they are well cared for with access to wading pools, sprinklers, and drinking water all day. They rest under covered shelters with sprinkler systems in the roof to allow for cooling off on warmer days. The other half of our kennel remains at our property and hikes with our guests, play in the creek or lake and free run on a rotation basis.

Doggy Training and Guide Training

Our kennel has a graduated training program in the fall to get them ready for winter dog sledding. Dogs are run for shorter periods late in the day, with a 4 wheeler in neutral, and progress to longer runs as the temperatures become cooler. In winter our dogs run on rotation in multi day dog sled tours. Their diet changes to high fat/high protein. We have a graduated program where the younger dogs are running on our multi day tours, our middle aged dogs on shorter day tours and our older dogs retired and free running for their final Golden years.

Guides are trained to stretch and massage the dogs, always keeping an eye out for injuries and sensitivities of any kind. Each guide carries a canine first aid kit in the sled at all times. Guides are trained by the kennel manager who is a Yukon Quest Veteran and has many years of dog sledding and dog care experience. At Sky High Living the lifestyle of a "Yukon Musher" is the draw that brings guests from all over the world. We are an "off grid" Ranch and life at the ranch is the real deal.