Y’all want to know, so lets just talk about it…

“Where are your retired dogs?”

Retired dogs Zazoom and Hummer (in the pen) with the dog yard in the background.

They ask after seeing the puppies, they ask dropping the tone of their voice, they ask because they care about dogs. I get it.

Lately we have had a series of guests to the kennel, the puppies are a big draw. And we always enjoy the chance to share a bit about our lifestyle with visitors. So when the first one asked, with a nervous look, “where are the retired dogs?” I did not let myself get offended. But the question kept coming, and it is dawning on me that people are concerned, and it is a valid question. So lets just set the record straight.

If you are born at Dew Claw you always have a home here.
End of discussion.

Polar napping in her house

Well not really (but when have I ever been cursed with brevity?)  We feel that we have a responsibility to the dogs we bring into the world. But not every dog will grow into or want to be a Dew Claw race dog. That does not make them bad or worthless dogs, they are just not ideally suited to what we are asking them to do. So we strive to find situations for those dogs that are better suited to them. This takes some effort, but is ultimately worth it.

Example: you may remember an earlier post highlighting some Dew Claw dogs we hoped to re-home, “Looking for a few Good Homes“. Lets follow up and see where those kids are now.

Devil and Parka spent last winter with a wonderful woman, Mary, who had always had a few dogs. But she was getting ready to leave the state and really wanted a bigger team for one final winter of adventure. So we arranged to have her foster Devil, Parka, and X-tra (an older Quest finisher who we felt was ready for a slightly easier life) This gave them the opportunity to have a fun active winter. While on an adventure with Mary they met a young man (about 5 years old) who’s mom was wanting to slowly get into dogs. Well he just fell in LOVE with X-tra, like madly completely head over heels. So instead of returning to Dew Claw it was decided that these 3 would go join this young man and his mom as they got started mushing. I get updates, and they are all happy in their new home. The photo mom sent of X-tra and her boy curled up together reading a bed time story was too cute for words.

Panda took a bit longer. But with the help of friends Matt & Erin we found her a perfect human. Matt & Erin have a Dew Claw dog already, and sometimes come and borrow other dogs to add power when they are going on winter ski-jor adventures. They had been taking Panda to let her get out and have some fun while she learned more about being a ski-jor dog. Through them she met her new human, Bobby. Panda now has a cabin with a couch, and a human with an active lifestyle who doesn’t mind dog hair on the couch. His career has him doing brief periods of field work in the summer. (But that’s cool, because Dew Claw has long term baby-sitting. This summer we have 3 Dew Claw dogs back visiting us.) When he returned the other day to pick Panda up after being gone the scene was adorable. She saw him and went nuts, tail wagging, jumping in his arms NUTS! Yeah safe to say Panda is happy in her new home.

Retired dog may also be rehomed, if the perfect home can be found. But until then, they have a safe home with us. There are still many Dew Claw dogs that live with us long past their race days. They will run with puppies or on short juants as long as they are able. Mostly they live in the main dog yard where they can get the same care & attention as the race dogs. (with a lower calorie version of the race dog diet) Dogs who are too old to jump out get to spend time in the puppy pen, when it is puppy free. And then as the need arises we have our heated garage set up with kennels. Our oldest Zazoom will move back into the garage again  this winter as his old bones do not do as well in the cold. There will come a day when his suffering will outweigh his comfort, and at that time we will be faced with one of the most difficult and painful responsibility a musher faces. But till that day we will continue to make sure we do everything we can for him.

These dogs are the living history of Dew Claw. They were Dan’s first race team long before I ever even had the dream of racing. They are the elders and have certainly earned their place here.

Polar, Zazoom, Cactus, (born 1999) Ears, (2000) Cactus, Diesel, Lestat (2002) and Hummer (oldest of the bunch 1997)


Zazoom (left) and Hummer relaxing in the pen.

Lestat with Carrot in the background (notice the family resemblance).

Deisel, he hides his gray well.

Back in the day: Deisel and Lestat in the race team 2009 Yukon Quest, McCabe.


About Jodi

Jodi Bailey and Dan Kaduce live a life with dogs. They own Dew Claw Kennel a competitive long distance kennel where dogs come first. Jodi and Dan have each finished both the Yukon Quest and Iditarod 1000 mile sled dog races, in addition to many other races in Alaska. http://www.dewclawkennel.com/
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10 Responses to Y’all want to know, so lets just talk about it…

  1. KurtLindstrom says:

    Thank you for telling the real truth about dogs that are not “race worthy!” I love that you continue to care for those dogs, look for a home for them, allow them to come home from time to time….. I know personally how much you love your dogs, your actions and passion are obvious!! I will never be able to keep track of each dog your kennel by name or picture, yet I KNOW that your dogs are truly given the best life that they are entitled to!!

  2. Sandi says:

    Love this blog entry :). I can add to the tales with Wednesday. Born at Dew Claw, she lived a long life of leisure in Wisconsin and was dearly loved by her best friend, Logan. I love seeing the dogs with similar markings to Wednesday. She was a gorgeous dog!

  3. Donna Q says:

    Jodi–I knew you and Dan were good people with dogs and this blog proves it. 6 of my seven dogs have come from other kennels when they no longer could fit in there. (Not that there was anything wrong with those kennels–there wasn’t and isn’t.) I am so proud of any musher who takes the same attitude you do with your dogs. I’ve preached it for years and sometimes hit a wall with it. But the reputable musher does the right thing–and that’s you!! Thank you!!


  4. Bonnie says:

    My very 1st sled dog was a dog that I met while at a friends kennel out in the bush. They were still running her but when it came time for her to leave the bush she came to me…..I thought that I would teach her so many things…..and I was so wrong…..She started to teach me about dogs….I thought that Lacy should be back in Alaska instead of Key West so we moved to Alaska….and somehow ended up with 40 dogs…..and we never cull a dog….never, never never…..Occasionally a dog will find a pet home….most of them move into the house onto the couch….I think there are 10 dogs in the house as I type…..one is 17, 3 are 16 and the rest are 14 or 15……They were wonderful athletes, exercised well, ate a healthy diet and live a long wonderful life doing what they want to do…..and that is the way it should be…..

  5. Robert Sadler says:

    Wow Jodi – just love it how you put this all on the table! Not for my sake, because I know about your reputation & the way you treat your dogs. Rather for the doubters & naysayers & “anti-mushing” people. This really cuts that whole argument right off. Nice job!

  6. Carol says:

    Thanks for the post Jodie. You know this is something close to my heart and the rampart breeding and culling in the mushing world is well known. Kudos to you and your team for doing what is right for the DOGS and caring for them into their old ages.

  7. We have the same philosophy here at Silverbelle. Thank you Jodi for bringing up the subject! My first year and second year Questies are slowly crossing the Rainbow Bridge – which has a special meaning here because the first to make that journey was Rainbow…..It is hard- we have so many miles together, Exactly like you say, some dogs are not served by staying with us for a lifetime, and they go to places where they can shine and be loved. Others have too big a piece of our heart and do stay and help train handlers and pups and just hang out being loved. Again, thank you Jodi.

  8. Julie says:

    And to add to the list of happily rehomed Dew Claw dogs: We still have L.D. (Little Dog, although she’s not little.) She came to us 8 or 9 years ago, I think, when Rod needed dogs for his Yukon Quest team. She was the calm, no-nonsense dog we always teamed up with any dog that was misbehaving until we retired her about five years ago. Until her arthritis got bad, she was my blueberry picking and snowshoeing companion. Now she’s either in a pen with other retirees, roaming freely around the yard or hanging out in the kitchen, as the mood strikes her.

  9. Linda Finnigan says:

    Thank you, Jodi.

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