As I was thinking of a title for this last Yukon Quest blog, I decided I didn’t want to put the word “ending” in the title and a short but a sweet blog would be the right way to go. This is a time for Dave and the gang to start a new beginning! How exciting!
It’s been a busy past few days. As in the blog before, we had a great time with the school kids and then a fun night at meet the mushers. Saturday was the banquet where Dave was also recognized for his 30 years of running dogs in the Yukon Quest, and then Sunday we where off, headed back home to Alaska. A huge thank you to the amazing vets that looked over the dogs when they came into every check piont and especially at Dawson when the gang came down with that nasty virus. Thank you to all the volunteers, race officials, logistics, YQ staff, and so many more who where there to help out every step of the way, this year and all the years in the past. Thank you to our host family, the Kitchen family for hosting Dave and his handlers for the past 15years! Thank you to all the handlers who came together for one another, helping each other out and being there for their mushers. Thank you to the amazing media team who knows how to capture those special moments. Thank you to all the mushers who run this race and telling trail stories along the way, but the biggest thank you is to the four legged, talented dogs that run in these races. All the past and present Dalton Gang members who worked their furry butts off year after year preparing and participating in the toughest sled dog race in the world. ❤🐾
What a fun Thursday! We had a great opportunity to visit the 3rd and 4th grade of Golden Horn Elementary. Dave answered questions and talked about the wonders and excitement of the Yukon Quest. All the kiddos where fascinated! Their eyes where as big as saucers and each and every one of them had a list of questions to ask. We also had “Mr. Ham” Waylon, who’s tail would not stop wagging as each student came up to him and padded him on the head or rubbed his butt! Dave showed the students how he harnesses up the dogs, puts on their dog coats and booties them up. The sledcwas on top of truck and Dave was able to go over the functions and compartments of the dog sled. The children also took turns putting on or taking off booties, harness and dog coat on Waylon, he loved every minute of it. It was so exciting and they just loved looking into the dog truck to check out the dog boxes and what Dave has packed up in the truck. It was so neat to hear the kids tell Dave all about their dogs and how some of them really are interested in dog mushing! 🐾🐶
Dave is doing great since making the decision to scratch and all 11 dogs are getting their energy and enthusiasm back! Dave and the gang where doing awesome from the start, but a nasty bug decided to put a damper on the run. Each and every dog came down with a stomach virus while on the trail. Dave started to notice the change in their behavior as he got closer and closer to Dawson. When Dave came into Dawson the dogs looked good, but definitely tired. We got to the camp site, got some warm food in their bellies, got them bedded down and tucked into blankets. Dave decided to take more time in Dawson so the dogs could get better rest, be on a good feeding schedule and have the awesome vetanarian team around by the dogs camp, if we needed them. The dogs got lots of pampering and loving care.🐾❤
Dave started to come up with a game plan with his dogs health in mind. He decided to stay at Dawson longer so the gang could get lots of needed rest and then leave after musher, Olivia Webster. During our last feeding time, before he was planning to take off, Dave did a thorough assessment of each dog and decided not to continue. Dave told me it wasnt a difficult decision because he cares for their well being and wanted the dogs to continue to rest and regain their strength. We let the gang rest for the night and got Dave to come out for dinner and hang out with a few other mushers, vets and fans. It was a blast with lots of laughs and positive good energy.
By the next morning the dogs where all doing wonderfully! We loaded dogs in truck, cleaned up camp, checked out and then on our way to the remaining check pionts to get Dave’s bags. Dave got to see mushers coming in, talk with check piont volunteers, eat some yummy homemade meals and most importantly thanked everyone for all they have done each and every year.
We finally made it to our host family, the Kitchen family that Dave has been staying with for over 15yrs!, and settled the dogs in. By this time, all tails are wagging and the gang was being all sorts of vocal. Dave made a little joke and said “Im going back to Dawson to get ready and leave on the trail with the dogs” The dogs are definitely feeling better and pretty sure that bug has worked its way through their system. Now Dave and us handlers can enjoy some down time before meetings and the banquet and do some more socializing. Please check out the great article written by the Yukon News I have posted on Dave’s Facebook page.
Dave came into Dawson at 8:55pm, Friday. The dogs looked really happy and where happy to have made it into Dawson. These veterans know that this is their time to get pampered and cared for, pretty much around the clock, with ample amounts of rest, massages, warm food and a warm camp to sleep in. Dave planned on a long rest for the gang, and will be leaving this evening, Sunday, after Olivia leaves. They will both be on the trail together heading to the next check point.
The service hasn’t been the best and it’s always a crazy first half of the race. Dave has been in great spirits and the dogs are doing great. Dave dropped Billy, the rookie from the outlaw litter at Two Rivers, nothing concerning, then Butch in central and Kitty in Circle. All 3 dogs are are doing great and resting at home. The trails have been pretty decent and the Gang was ready to go, leaving Circle, for the long trek to Dawson. As Dave was switching dogs around, the older veterans knew it was getting close to go so Ceasar started to sing and Frasier chimed in, as did Grizzly, Bobber and Yogi, well geezers, the whole gang was signing and ready to go. Dave walked down the line talking to them, asking if they where ready to go and the dogs really started to get vocal, almost like they where telling Dave “Come on! Lets go”! I sware I saw big smiles from each of the gang, including Dave! We all at the chute fed off the energy of the dogs. It was a really special moment!❤🐶 After Dave left, I got everything cleaned up and was ready to head to Lee’s to drop stuff off. Early in the morning drive, got to Lee’s and since I was the only handler now, Lee had his bags already packed and ready to go, to be a handler for me! We left in the evening and got to Dawson in the afternoon yesterday, set up camp, ate a great dinner then bed for some well deserved sleep! I had about 4 or 5 hrs of sleep by then. Woke up and did some more preparations for Dave then a great Dinner with Mark Sass, a great friend of Lee’s, me and Dave. I’m expecting Dave into Dawson sometime Saturday. Dave has been taking it easy and most importantly, making sure the dogs are happy and healthy.
Dave is off!! Thank you for the amazing support and help from friends, family and fans at the start! It was as hectic as usual and go go go, but as always Dave stayed cool calm and collective. All the dogs looked great and where “signing” up a storm! In the chute, you could feel the dogs positive and exciting energy as they eagerly waited to take off! The Media team took some great pictures and then the count down began. Brad was driving the tag sled and Betty was nestled in, warm and cozy.
Yesterday was a busy day in Fairbanks for Dave and us handlers, starting with the handlers meeting. Dave had a beautiful luncheon with his Quest guest, Betty, who has known Dave for the past few years and is super excited to be riding with him for his last race. We ended the day with a wonderful and fun banquet with a table full of friends and fans. Handlers Kirsten and Brad, Brad’s girlfriend Andrea, Lee, Dave’s girlfriend Theresa, her friends Tracy, Sarah, Margaret, his Quest guest Betty and her son Chris. There was some good stories and a lot of laughs. Dave’s speech was great, thanking the sponsors, the Quest, vet team, handlers and all in between. Today we have a “down” day before the race to pack up the dog truck and Dave will take the team of 14 dogs for a short practice run of only 3 miles, the temperature has dropped again in the negative -20s, then we head to Lee’s for the night and wake up bright and early to head to the start.
Two more days till Dave’s final start of the Yukon Quest! Meet the mushers went great for Dave and he got to sign A lot of posters in a special way! Dave Made sure he put his 30yrs and final race on each and every one! 🐾