article Three adults are accused of locking a 9-year-old child in a kennel. (Credit: Davidson…
The hard work, the benefits of running a sled dog kennel in Alaska
“My Economy” tells the story of the new economic normal through the eyes of the people trying to make it happen, because we know the only numbers that really matter are your economy.
The winner of 50th Iditarod crossed the finish line last week. And while it’s the mushers and their dogs on the trail, it takes a lot of people and small businesses to get the dogs and the logistics ready so everyone can safely traverse thousands of miles of Alaskan wilderness.
No one gets rich on racing sled dogs. It is the passion for dogs and the sport that makes him special.
David Monson is the owner of Trail Breaker Kennel in Fairbanks, Alaska, a business he started in 1976 with his wife, Suzanne Boucher, four-time Iditarod champion died in 2006. They shared a love for dogs and for racing.
Trail Breaker Kennel offers tours and sleigh rides for visitors, and Monson uses company money to cover the costs of winter runs.
Training the 38 Alaskan huskies to race is no easy task (Monson also has a husky and border collie-poodle mix that are pets).
“We have to work 12 hours a day. We run 50 to 100 miles a day with different teams.
Maintaining dogs is expensive. Monson says running the kennel costs $5-6 per dog per day.
“I think the biggest expense we have is dog food, but veterinary care because of vaccines and because of physical exams and so on.” And the gear needed for the race doesn’t come cheap either. “Our races with dog sleds, they can cost between $1,000 and $6,000.”
But Monson said the benefits can be dramatic.
“When you’re out there on a night with the northern lights overhead, and it’s totally quiet, and you can look around and see things maybe once in a while, a wild animal going by, it’s a magical experience, it really allows us to get in touch with our soul when we’re there.
Monson considers himself lucky because he looks forward to work every day. “I don’t even consider it a job,” he said. “I see this as an opportunity to experience what a lot of people don’t.”
Monson hopes his two daughters will take over the business.
“I’m looking forward to leaving this as a setup opportunity for them to come in, see if they have the same passion as me, and now I’m going to pass it on.”
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