Checkpoint #2 The Reynolds – Dog Shopping Excursion

We made it across 2 border crossings without any issue and arrived in Fairbanks  late Sunday morning.  We were amazed at how big the city was and all the options they had available to them.  We made a stop at Cold Spot Feeds, Fred Meyers (an awesome Alaskan grocery store) and tried to get into the Alaskan Fur Company and Apocolypse Designs, but they were closed since it was Sunday.  We headed to Arleigh and Donna’s place which is ½ hour out of Fairbanks in Salcha.  They have an absolutely beautiful log home nestled in among the trees and all of their out buildings are built of log.  It was what you envision an Alaskan kennel and homestead to look like.  The kennel was another example of organization and cleanliness.  The pups and bitches were kept in separate fenced areas from the rest of the dogs and about 95% of the dogs were all on decking.  He had kennels attached to a barn which allowed him to house up to 4 dogs per kennel in the severe cold.  His office was attached to the barn and had a phenomenal view overlooking his kennel.  I couldn’t think of a more awesome set-up and was truly envious of the luxury of working and being with your dogs.
We got the opportunity to take a group of pups for a walk with Arleigh and observe how he works with his puppies.  One of the first things we noticed at the Reynold’s kennel was how social all of their dogs were.  As you walked through the kennel the greater majority all wanted attention and it was obvious that they have spent a lot of time socializing their dogs.  Arleigh commended Donna in this department as she loves to work with the pups. 
As always, Arleigh was an open book and shared his limitless amount of knowledge on everything from training, nutrition, therapy etc.  He has a vast amount of knowledge and any musher could sit and listen to him for hours.  It was awesome.   Then much to our surprise we learned that Donna and Arleigh had invited dinner guests; Jeannie and Dean Gulden (previously from Minnesota) and Roxy Wright Champaigne and her husband, Dave.  It was a great surprise to reunite with Jeannie and Dean.  They were monumental in getting us on the right track in racing our first long distance race.  They came and showed us the ropes the first time Bruce ran Grand Portage (120 miles) and we were as green as green could be.  They showed us the entire checkpoint routine, pre-race preparation etc. and helped Bruce finish in 8th place.  It was funny for the four of us to look back on that race.  Bruce and I could remember that JR and Ryan Anderson were there and favored to finish in the top 5 and JR and Ryan had no clue who the heck we were!    They were untouchable to us at that time and today we find ourselves together on a marathon dog shopping trip! 
The evening was full of lots of laughs with Jeannie and Dean reminiscing and catching them up on Mid-west mushers.  Listening to Roxy was an experience we will always remember.  It was like listening to your pedigrees come to life as she talked casually about racing Burner and Pluto and discussed pedigrees.  We were in awe realizing that this woman was on the runners behind some of the best dogs in history.  She has been touted as being one of the best dog trainers and you can immediately see it in her personality.  She is focused, intense and a wealth of information.  It was a real pleasure and part of a true Alaskan experience to break bread with Roxy.  Arleigh’s family was a joy to spend the evening with; Cheyenne, Mia, Donna and Roxy’s husband, Dave provided lots of laughter and a break from all the dog talk!  This exciting evening was capped off by a phenomenal meal that Donna had prepared of grilled salmon, shrimp, potatoes, bread, snap peas and salad.  It was awesome.  Bruce and I had been hoping to try real Alaskan Salmon so we were thrilled to see it on the menu that evening.  We had both had poor experiences with Salmon at home and neither of us are fish eaters so it was a joy to eat the real deal and to enjoy it immensely.  Now I just have to figure out how to get it in Michigan. 
Our visit to Arleigh brought forth a great dog that Bruce and I immediately secured; Anker.  He is a 4 year old gee/haw leader out of Thomas Warner’s kennel that has run Femundslopet (600 miles), finished 3rd in ……… .He was just a hair off leading Arleigh’s Open Class team and his resume showed he has the versatility to do what we do at the speed we are looking for.  When he came up we jumped on the opportunity to have this dog. 

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