A "Family Run" Business
A “Family Run” Business
Eleanor has had families of dogs for over 20 years. Her first sled dog kennel started in a small Eskimo village on the northwest coast of the Bering Sea. A lovely little female Alaskan husky puppy just wouldn’t leave her alone one day when she was visiting another race musher’s dog yard. Down by the ocean her litter mates played, but not this little one. She kept coming over and sitting right on top of Eleanor’s big boots. Perched there as if to say “Notice me. Take me home”.
Though she wasn’t for sale, the owner could see the bond that was forming quickly. After a few days of this same behavior it was quite apparent that nobody except this puppy had a say in what was meant to be.
Eleanor brought this little 10-week old puppy home, named her Willow, and the rest is history. Everything that has evolved around sled dogs started with this little dog.
Willow had been born in Unalakleet, Alaska the summer of 2003 to an Alaska Native musher whose family had for generations run dogs for both necessity and racing. She had Iditarod lineage in her blood, was smart, loving and had tremendous drive to pull. By the time she was a year old she was a leader on Eleanor’s team and the alpha female at Flying Paws Kennel.
An accidental breeding that winter turned out to be the next greatest gift. Willow whelped on Valentine’s Day, birthing 6 healthy, strong puppies. 5 males and 1 female. By late fall 3 of them, (the other 3 were given to teachers in the village and became longtime pets) Zing, Zat, and Jello were on Eleanor’s team and would remain with her, contributing their strength, integrity, gentleness and work ethic for the next 10-12 years. These dogs lived long enough to become part of the founding kennel for Just Short of Magic.
Eleanor has continued Willow’s lineage breeding new racing lines into the team. The most recent litter of 8, Willow’s great grandchildren, were born in March 2017. They are all strong, healthy, happy dogs who are members of her current touring team and kennel. Named after everything that has to do with the auroras, they are Electron, Proton, Solar, Flare, Plasma, Corona, Little Aurora and Storm.
These sled dogs are members of Eleanor’s family. They are her family. Her devotion, love, care and attention to the details of each dog are obvious from the time you arrive here until the time you leave. She knows each one by their unique voice (bark). Meals are made with each dog’s specific dietary needs in mind. She knows just how much meat, fat, kibble and water each dog needs. Of course, they each have their own unique personality.
This “family run” business is a combination of not only Eleanor’s dog family, but the combinations of three different sled dog families that take her and her guests down the winter trails everyday all winter long. We’re looking forward to having you join us here at Just Short of Magic!
It's All About the Sled Dogs
Dog mushers love their sled dogs.
It’s as plain and simple as that. We know each and every one of our dogs as intimately as parents know their children. We know each individual bark just like a parent knows their child’s voice, we know the minute somebody isn’t feeling just quite right by the way they tip an ear or don’t wag their tail or have an odd expression, we know the minute a sled dog’s gait isn’t just right by the way their shoulders/hips move just a bit differently or their tail hangs in an odd way, we know when they’re happy by their jumps and their barks, their smiles and their howls. It is a special relationship mushers have with their hard working canine friends and we do everything, day and night, to be sure they are comfortable, loved, safe, and ready to run….the very thing they love to do the most.
People often think we make our dogs run. It is no different than leading a horse to water. You cannot make a horse drink water; we can not make our sled dogs run. Huskies run because it’s in their blood. This is what they are bred and born to do. Just as a bird dog goes on point and flushes birds, huskies run and pull. When it is time to hook up for a run the dog yard erupts with the din of barking and jumping, eager dogs ready to go. Many stuff their nose and legs into their harness all on their own as if to say, “Here I am! I’m ready to go!” If any dog is left behind they sulk and whine, desperate to join the team. When a team of sled dogs are tired they will stop and lie down and will not go any further. Ask any racer who has known the frustration of an entire team that stops and curls up in the middle of a race. They just have to wait until their dogs are ready to run again.
Dog mushers care for their dogs seven days a week 365 days a year and for most it’s twice a day, every morning and every evening. Feeding and cleaning the yard is a daily chore that get’s done regardless of the weather or our other daily demands. In winter we cook a hot soup of meat, fat, kibble and water. We add straw to every house on chilly nights. We snuggle and play with them. We talk with them and cry with them. These dogs are for many our family or at the very least an important part of the human family and are cared for just as any family member would be.
For many we forgo vacations and trips because of our commitment to daily sled dog care. For many we could be driving a Mercedes Benz with the dog food payment we make each month. For many we live too far out of town to have a social life because we live where the dogs can run. For many we buy a new harness before we buy a new jacket. For many our dogs come first…every day of the year. So you can put to rest your worries about the quality of care mushers provide for their dogs; it is a relationship like no other.