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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Solstice, Summer, Salmon, Social media, Sad realities

The solstice was just a couple of days ago. 21 hours and 49 minutes of daylight here in the Fairbanks area. Of course the other 2 hours and 11 minutes are far from dark. It'll be another 4-5 weeks before it even gets dark enough to see a star in the night sky. Although at first, we are only loosing a few seconds of light a day, soon it'll be close to seven minutes a day. Winter's on it's way!

Around here, summer is a time to prepare. Next winter's firewood is already cut and piled. Fencing projects to create an old-timers pen, bitch pen, and puppy pen, are all underway. I've been to the Kenai to catch enough fish to fill our freezer with fresh sockeye and king salmon fillets. Only the guts are thrown to the gulls, the heads and racks of all the fish become a supplemental food for dogs. In the week I was away, Sue's greenhouse exploded with growth and we are both really looking forward to reaping what we've sown. Speaking of sowing the seed, Yes!, I did say puppy pen! While we don't have anything to announce just yet, we have our fingers crossed!

I am sorry it has been so long since I've written here. Facebook (Team Tsuga Siberians) has taken over as such an easy way to communicate for us with our far-flung friends, that I forget that some of you don't go there. When I first started writing on our website 'doglog', it went out to a small audience and I wore my heart on my sleeve, as I usaully do. I'm not an actor, like some mushers. Mushing is an emotional thing and I'm an emotional person. As more folks were reading my posts once we became slightly more known from Quest, my more personal side began to win out and my writing trailed off. Pictures and videos seemed the easier way to focus on the dogs, and less on my thoughts, and the timing of the rise of social media fit this transition. I have been reminded recently that many folks still don't facebook or even have the ability to check videos online. I will try to get some more plain text writing back in to the mix... We'll also be making an effort to get our website updated in the coming weeks. We promise to continue to improve on keeping you ALL up to date.

Seems our kennel is at a tipping point. Last year's Quest was the first of our four Quest's that we didn't sell or mortgage our home to finance, and we are still in recovery mode. While we keep a very small kennel for a 1000-mile racing kennel, costs to prepare for and run the toughest races in the world are still very high and getting higher. We are looking for help to be able to continue racing. After finishing 8th in Quest and winning the Vet's choice award along with sharing the Sportsmanship award, you'd think maybe sponsors would show up at our doorstep. Not so. Our three finishes in the Quest are the top three fastest times in the history of the race for a team of registered dogs. We have an unprecedented record of winning at least one Vet's choice award at a major race in EACH of our last 5 years racing! Still, we don't win races and we don't do a very good job promoting ourselves, so we don't get many sponsors. (We are very grateful for the ones we have, but we are FAR from getting free dog food, booties, or sleds!) Another way many kennels make money, that we have not, is to breed dogs and sell pups and/or trained-up dogs for big money. Since our first litter in 1998, we have had just three more litters. All of the dogs produced from those three litters still live with us. We don't get more dogs, we get more from our dogs. I guess we have hoped that with time, our philosophy, record, and reputation would lead to sponsorship that would allow us to continue in this sport. It has not. I am not a fan of begging or expecting something for nothing. I also have been told again and again recently that if you don't ask, you won't recieve. Our kennel operation is a full-time job for one and a part-time job for the other. We don't use handlers and couldn't afford to. Besides the constant work of running the kennel, Sue has been working around 60 hours a week in town while I get part-time carpentry work where and when I can find it. We are not lazy and we have never accepted any government welfare of any kind. We also can't keep up with costs to race. This year is the first we have claimed our kennel as a business for tax reasons. They won't let us do that for many years!! We would desperately love to be signing up for Iditarod and Quest this year to there-by join a very small group of Siberian kennels that have done both thousand-mile races and the first to do them both in the same year. That is simply a dream, as of now. At one point, going to run our first Quest was just a dream, too. Now we have run 1000 miles over a day faster than any other team of Siberians, EVER! Dreams do come true and we are not yet done trying to make it happen, but we are asking for, and needing, your help. Do you know of a company, group, individual, or entity that would like to sponsor a team that may never win, but will always represent our ideals of respect, trust, taking pride in how we do it but always trying to do it better?? If you have ideas or can help yourself, please let us know- Thanks.

Mike and Sue Ellis
PO Box 16149
Two Rivers, AK 99716



  1. Hi Mike,

    I wish I knew of a company that could help you out, you deserve it and I would love to see you run both 1000 mile races. Costs can become crazy. I had to cut my own season short this year because we ran out of funds. I couldn't even imagine what it would be like with your racing agenda! I share your breeding philosophy. Not many litters here either and all those born here are still here. Nice to see another musher who feels the same way. I sure hope you are able to find a sponsor, or several, so we can see you on both trails fulfilling more of your dreams.

    Northern Blast Sled Dogs
    Estacada, OR

  2. We will continue to support you and hope to increase how much of that support there is this year.