Checkpoint #1 The Streepers – Dog Shopping Excursion

We arrived in Ft. Nelson right on the scheduled time and had time to get a motel and take the much needed shower.  We had coordinated a time with Streepers and I was impressed how accurate our arrival time was given that we had traveled such a long distance.   Despite this, when we got to the Streepers the doors were all open, but there was no one to be found.  We waited for about ½ hour before it became obvious they were not around.  We left a note for them that we’d check back in an hour and went for food. I was at my breaking point and decided that I would prefer sleep over a tour and headed for bed.  JR, Anna and Bruce returned to the motel shortly after disappointed that the Streepers had not yet returned.  Late in the evening we got a call from Buddy and he explained they had all been up the street at their golf course tending to the annual Championship.  He apologized and invited us over the next morning.
 We got there around 8AM in time to see them feeding.  They have 200+ dogs and it is surprisingly immaculate.  Hundreds of dogs houses neatly lined up, bowls attached to the houses and nice flat circles that are dragged daily eliminating the need to scoop each house.  They feed out of a golf cart that runs up and down between the rows of houses while Terry scoops food on top of their houses.  It was the most efficient method of feeding I’ve ever witnessed and a necessity with so many dogs.  They have separate bitch and puppy pens that are fenced in.  The remainder of the kennel is not contained with fencing.  Buddy took us on the tour and immediately fell into the Streeper tour spiel, as it was obvious they get tons of visitors.  He was very open and willing to share training and feeding techniques.  It was fascinating to learn and see how arguably one of the best kennels in the world takes their puppies through their training program to, hopefully, world class success.  We looked at a couple dogs they had available that Buddy felt might fit our needs and stored them in our memories to do homework on them later.  We spent about 2 ½ hours with the Streeper’s and were very grateful for the time they took out of their day to show us their facility; it is evident that they have a well organized program that runs like a well oiled machine.  This was a theme to be repeated by all of the top kennels in Alaska.
The overnight delay of our road trip turned out to be a blessing as the next portion of the trip was hands down the most exciting wildlife experience I’ve ever had and it gave Bruce a chance to regain his ability to walk.  Within ½ hour of leaving Ft. Nelson we started seeing an abundance of wildlife.  It was so dramatic you felt like you had entered a wild life preserve or a zoo.  Throughout the drive we saw 8 bears right on the side of the road within a couple car lengths just sitting there eating grass without a care in the world.  We passed groups of Big Horn Sheep on the highway so close you could reach out the window and touch them.  Everything was up close and personal.  We saw moose, buffalo, elk, deer, coyote and porcupines!   The only thing we didn’t see was a Grizzly or a wolf.  The scenery and the wildlife were overwhelming and you just couldn’t get enough.  We were stopping every 15 minutes to take photos.  Thankfully, the wildlife photo ops were thinning out when my camera decided to die on me.  I am now anti-Canon as this was my 2nd Canon in one year that had died for the same reason – I hope they are reading this. 

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