Checkpoint #3 The Redingtons – Dog Shopping Excursion

After a great night’s rest we pulled ourselves away from Arleigh’s and set out towards Manley Hot Springs; the home of Joee and Pam Redington.  First we had to stop and purchase a mini-air compressor and some tire patch kits due to the road conditions on the way to Manley.  We lowered the air in the tires and turned onto this 155 mile dirt road.  Surprisingly, it was in better condition than we had expected, but we could see how it would be an issue if you had car troubles as there was nothing until you got to Joee’s.  The scenery was breathtaking and remote.  We arrived and drove through town (a post office and road house) looking for Joee’s and laughed at how he probably knew we were there despite the fact we couldn’t find him.  It was kind of embarrassing — how hard could it be to find a dog kennel in a town with the population of 78?  We finally found him on the very last road we explored.  Joee and Pam were out getting ready to feed the dogs.  As you pull up you get a bit of Alaskan sensory overload.  The dogs are housed right in the front of the property and the out buildings are log with metal roofs.  There are moose antlers, farm implements and other musher paraphernalia hanging on the buildings and a shed full of sleds.  It was totally cool.  Their house is set way back away from the dogs.  They have separate bitch and puppy pens.  The other very obvious thing we noticed is that the dogs all looked like huskies and the similar genetic traits were obvious through out the kennel.  His dogs were a bit leggier, appeared larger and had very distinctive markings and ½ flopped ears.  It was a very handsome group of dogs.
Joe is a soft spoken guy with a sharp sense of humor that leaves you belly laughing.  He will often be talking softly and then with a twinkle in his eye will tell the craziest story that leaves you wanting to hear more.  Pam is also soft spoken, but a very gracious host that immediately makes you feel comfortable.  Joee’s office is a miniature museum full of tons of old photos of many of the great mushers and he has scanned virtually hundreds of old photos of growing up and life with the Redington’s; we had the pleasure of viewing many of these photos.  It was very cool.  He is also a talented carver and the room is full of his carvings, native dolls and other native artifacts.  We spent a great deal of time just looking and taking it all in.
 After feeding the dogs, Pam ran in to prepare dinner a wonderful spread of moose soup, drop biscuits, salad and melon.  I was amazed at the quality of fresh vegetables/fruit in this remote area.  Joee and Pam live off the land in a traditional rustic manner.  Their home has no plumbing so Pam has a huge water tank in the house and she has to heat all of her water for doing dishes etc.  They bathe at the local hot springs and have out houses.  I was in awe at how hard they work.  Just doing dishes is a task compared to loading them in a dishwasher.  They catch 2000+ fish every year to feed their dogs.  They cook fish daily for the dogs and in the fall they have to box enough to get them through the winter.  These eventually ferment and then are put out to freeze once the temperature allows.  The sorting process after fermenting is an arduous task that only Pam handles.  She says that she has to dress from head to toe in slickers and rubber gloves because the smell is so bad that if you get it on you it stays and if it gets on your clothes they must be burnt.  I can understand why Pam wants to be the only one to handle this task; then she can guarantee that none accidently gets in the house!
The temps dropped down into the 30’s that evening and Bruce and I tested the artic sleeping bags we brought since the cabin we stayed in had no heat.  It was right up our alley since we both love sleeping in the cold.  We laughed that Anna would have froze to death had she drawn the cabin.  That morning we talked dogs and JR talked Joee into taking a team out so he could look at a dog.  JR rode on the back with Joee and me, Bruce and Anna all climbed onto a little four wheeler and followed.  Joee trains a lot like us and his dogs really know how to work.  The dog we had purchased, Rocky, was in the team and we were very pleased with his work ethic.  He is a handsome 2 year old that has a very high attitude on line.  We are really excited to work with him this fall.  When all was said and done JR and Anna left with 2 dogs and we left with Rocky.  We were all very excited to get the opportunity to purchase some of Joee’s dogs since we heard it is tough to get dogs out of Joee.

This entry was posted in The Off Season. Bookmark the permalink.