27 YEAR OLD YUKON QUEST Rookie
Nationality:
Canadian
Current Residence:
Fort Smith, Northwest Territories
Occupation(s):
Wildland Firefighter
Kennel Bloodlines:
Phillips, Hopkins
Breeds:
Alaskan Husky
# of Dogs in Kennel:
12

Musher Question & Answer

How many years have you been running dogs?
8 years (2 as a guide, 6 personal)
Tell us about your dogs, particularly some stories or facts about dogs running the 2022 race with you

When I got my (very big), Wilson, a few years ago, I took him on a team/wheel dog because of his size and strength. I only had 5 dogs at the time and two of my leaders decided to work in all opposite directions doing the opposite of what I was asking. Big Wilson. After a few days of observation, decided to listen to every single command I was giving, and respond super quickly 9he was running a swing). I gave him a chance to show me I wasn’t dreaming and to my surprise, he did formidably! Today, despite his big size, I refer to him as my main leader, puppy teacher and my “clutch”. It would be hard to go far without my Willy.

How did you get started running dogs?

During my adventure tourism diploma in CEGEP, we had a short intro course on how to care for the dogs and ride the sled. As soon as we pulled into the parking lot, the 16 dogs started to howl and tears came out of the corner of my eyes… I was hooked and never stopped.

What do you love most about running sled dogs?

The very special connection that I have with the dogs. Every dog being its own individual, has its own special “thing” with me. Each dog knows how to take care of me in its own way. I love recognizing voices while they all sigh in uni-sound and especially, I love going on the trails with them and listening to nothing else than the dogs. Breathing the paws in the snow and the wind, they take me to winter wonderland every time.

Why did you enter the Yukon Quest? What are your goals for the race?
I entered the race to give the chance to the dogs to get long-distance running and race discipline. I also wanted to see how disciplined I can be when the elements and fatigue get to me. My goals are only geared towards having fun, keeping a happy and healthy team as well as connecting with experienced mushers and get my own life and race experience.
How did your dogs get their names?/ How do you choose names?

It was my first litter (2019) and I had 9 of them! I wanted a real nice theme but there were so many! I decided to go with tree names that I could see around Fort Smith. My five adults got their names from Michelle & Ed. My first dog, Chilkoot, got her name after the Chilkoot trail since the history of the gold rush captivated me so much.

What music do you listen to on the trail?

I will have to figure that one out during the winter! You guys will have to come back for the answer :)

Share a quick story about one of your indispensable Handlers

I do not currently have a handler, but I do have a lot of helpers! Two of my great helpers are Kevin & Rita Antoniak from Nivek kennels, who helped me so much with my first litter (winter litter) Rita would come to see my puppies and feed them (and often clean the area). She would make sure they were all doing well while I was working shifts. She still does when I go out of town, I could not be more grateful for having them.

Tell us about your favourite experience with a volunteer on the trail
I don’t have a lot of them, but one thing I can say is that back in Fort Smith, I had the chance to try a sprint race (again for the experience) and one of the races A Marshall told me to treat my team on the track a few days before the race. He met me there and told me the rules of the race and answered my questions. He made me feel welcome for my first race! Thanks to Sholto Douglas
List recent sled dog races and/or best performances
Year: 2021; Race: Western Canadian Sled Dog Championship; Finish Position: 14th