This year’s litter of pups was born on May 22, 2013 during the 2 pm dog demo run and continuing through the evening. For the fourth year in a row, we had a litter of three. I often get asked, “What is an average sized litter?” Really, there is no average or normal size, litters in the park have been as small as one pup and as large as thirteen. The “average” right now seems to be three!
(pup pile 1.5 weeks)
The mom of this year’s litter is NPS sled dog, Sultana. She is six years old and will turn seven this summer. To learn more about Sultana and why she is an excellent choice for breeding please read last year’s blog, “The Next Generation”. I chose to breed Sultana again this year because she is one of our best lead dogs, she produces excellent pups and she is such a good mom. This year’s breeding is the result of a few years of planning with the owner of the father of this year’s pups. He and I were in agreement that breeding Sultana and Typhoon might produce one of the best litters of pups this kennel has seen.
(Sultana and Jen)
The next big question on everyone’s mind is, “Who is the father?” His name is Typhoon and he is not from the Denali Kennels, though he does share some of our bloodlines. His owners spent years running dogs in the “bush” outside of Eagle, AK along the Yukon River. We asked Typhoon’s owners to share their thoughts on him and this is what they wrote:
Typhoon was born on the morning of January 7th, 2004 at -38 degrees in an old Eagle-Chicken stage-stop/trapline cabin on the top of American Summit about 17 miles outside of Eagle, Alaska. He was one of five pups (four males/one female) born of Moxie (Denali Nat'l Park) and Crinkle(Eagle, Alaska), who were named Typhoon, Hurricane, Cyclone, Twister, and Tsunami.
It became very evident from 3 months old that he was going to be bigger than his siblings. From a very early age I realized he was going to be 'special', but I wasn't exactly sure in what way that would be until later. He had a mellow disposition from the time he was a pup, and in fact he was so mellow that at one point I doubted that he would ever make a very good sled dog, he proved me completely and absolutely wrong.
(pup Typhoon photo)
Over the years I've worked with dozens and dozens of sled dogs, Typhoon developed into the most complete and best sled dog I've ever worked with. His strengths are numerous and he has only one weakness (for Superman it's kryptonite, for Typhoon it's glare-ice). At 95 lbs he has always been the biggest dog in my team; big dogs are usually slow, but not with Typhoon, he is one of the fastest in the team and the hardest driver of any of them -as a completely honest dog he never slacks off or softens his tug. He is the best lead dog I have ever worked with, a supremely technical leader, off-trail or on, with his long legs and strong work ethic he can break trail through belly deep snow in an arrow straight line for hours. When running in lead I swear at times that he is actually reading my mind, he has the uncanny ability to read what I am thinking and where I wish the team to go without me having to give the command. Even in new terrain there have been moments when I find myself thinking that I'd like to go explore a certain slough or valley we've never been down, only to have Typhoon the very next second turn and lead the team down that way.
(Typhoon leading team)
The last thing that needs to be said about Typhoon is that not only is he a phenomenal sled dog but he's an incredibly gentle companion dog as well. He's as happy having his belly endlessly rubbed as he is pulling a sled across the Alaskan tundra. Here's to Typhoon and his new puppies! If they turn out half as well as Typhoon they will still be incredible sled dogs.
I am sure that you feel the same as I do when I read this description of Typhoon….We are so lucky to have more of his genes in our kennel. Anyone who has met NPS sled dog Sylvie knows just how sweet Typhoon is because Sylvie inherited her dad's hardworking, dedicated and sweet personality and absolute love of belly rubs. We sure hope that this litter of his pups also turns out to be just like their dad!
The pups turn four weeks old tomorrow and they are just beginning to venture outside the house and show their individual personalities as they interact with each other and their mom and Tatum, in the pen next to theirs. What we have observed so far is that Munter is an adventurous little pup. He loves to explore around the puppy pen and visit with Tatum. Munter is also the spitting image of his father, Typhoon. Prusik seems to be the most mellow, sleepy puppy of the bunch. He is always content to snuggle and sleep quietly in your arms. Clove, the little girl.is a tough cookie. She is much tinier than her brothers, but has a very big attitude. She reminds me a lot of her mom, Sultana, in both looks and personality. In the weeks and months to come we’ll continue to gain new insights into each individual pup.
(pups and Sultana)
Remember you can watch the pups on the puppycam 24 hours a day at www.go.nps.gov/pups A new still image of them should upload every few seconds.
You can also watch the “Puppy Paws” series on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLe2ehYnVo4jA7abeTJ_s61q56xSFxtR1G or on the park website at https://www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/kennels.htm to learn more about how we raise and train our litters of pups here in the park. This series was made last summer and focuses on the 2012 litter of pups, Polly, Annie, and Lucky. However, all the phases of development and training we talk about apply to each litter of pups we raise here in the kennels.
We will do our best to keep you updated on how the puppies grow this summer. Stay tuned! Right now, I am heading out to the puppy pen to play with Munter, Prusik, and Clove. They grow up fast and we want to enjoy every minute with them that we can.