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NAUTIQUE SKY KENNEL LEGENDS
I wouldn’t be ready to enter a 1000 mile race if I never would have had
Nautique and Gimli in my life…they are my legends!
Meet Nautique… Nautique was my true inspiration, which caused me to fall in love with mushing. I bought him as a puppy while attending college in Colorado and was so fascinated by how far and how fast he could run. My life with him planted the seed inside me to someday own my own kennel of sled dogs in Alaska. He was a beautiful purebred Siberian Husky. Nautique and I were truly best friends. We did EVERYTHING together: climbed 14,000 foot mountains, went grocery shopping and lived in a tent for months on end, due to the fact that he wasn’t allowed to live with me in my dorm room. Nautique tragically met his early demise by running in front of a pick-up truck on November 1, 2006. Nautique Sky Kennel is named after Nautique as he changed the course of my life forever and continues to influence me today.
Meet Gimli… Gimli truly encapsulated the spirit of the sled dog! We were told he was too small, too short and his legs were too little, so he was actually “donated” to us. However, he proved his previous owner wrong and became the emotional leader of our kennel with a heart of gold! Gimli never had a bad day! He loved everything and did everything enthusiastically, including eating! He acted like he had been shot out of a canon at all times because he had so much energy! If you would try giving him a hug, he would attempt to burrow into your body! He was so happy! He was our “RUDY” and usually ran in wheel, immediately in front of the sled, the hardest job of the team. Gimli’s bloodlines are linked to our dogs from Sweden. We think about Gimli every day and he continues to inspire us. Gimli passed away on August 17, 2018 at only six years old. His death was a huge loss to Nautique Sky Kennel.
Iditarod 1000 RACE DOGS
These 14 kids will make up the core of my race team this winter with all of them having a good dose of prior race experience!
Meet Pocahontas…(Pokey)…3 Year Old – Girl. Pokey is just like her mother Ruby. Wild and crazy on the outside but a huge sweetheart on the inside. She also likes to make sure everyone knows she’s “in the room” by barking, well actually screaming, when she’s excited. When it’s time for the couch or to be spoiled, she’s as sweet as they come and loves the attention. She’s the dog you will hear barking as she encounters other teams on the trail. Maybe it makes her mad that other teams are passing us? Or maybe she’s announcing us we are pass other teams?! Last year she completed the Solstice 50, Yukon Quest 300 and Percy DeWolfe 200. Her sisters Belle and Ariel along with her are kind of a 3 headed monster, all with a similar physique, attitude and build. She is the sister of Belle, Jasmine, Ariel and Simba. Her dad is King and mom is Ruby.
Meet Ariel…3 Year Old – Girl. She’s sooo fast, she’s blurry! This is the best we could do to get a picture of this ball of energy. Like her sisters, Belle and Pocahontas, she has an incredibly high drive and can be crazy on the line, but as sweet as they come. Just the other night, Ariel was invited into the house to spend the night on the couch (every dog on the team gets an equal turn) and she didn’t leave my side all night long…super good girl! She’s pretty funny sometimes because she’s very eager to go for a run, but then sometimes needs to be encouraged a bit to go. Always though, at the end of the run, she’s super happy to have gone and just loves to have attention. Ariel was Deke’s favorite princess (Disney’s Little Mermaid)when he was a young boy growing up. She definitely wants to be part of his world! Last year she completed the Solstice 50, Yukon Quest 300, and Percy DeWolfe 200. Ariel is the sister of Belle, Pocahontas, Jasmine and Simba. Her mom is Ruby and dad is King.
Meet Simba…3 Year Old – Boy. Simba, the only boy of the Disney litter (poor guy) is huge! Although his mom Ruby is only 35 pounds, Simba weighs over 65, making him one of the biggest dogs we have in the whole team! He’s incredibly handsome and is really enjoying the sled dog life. He is always eager to run. His attitude so far reminds us mostly of the late Gimli because he’s always happy, always eating and always wants attention. We are excited to see what he becomes! Simba loves to run downhill, ready to bowl over whatever is in his way! Last year he completed the Solstice 50, Yukon Quest 300 and Percy DeWolfe 200. He gives great hugs too! He is the brother of Jasmine, Ariel, Pocahontas and Belle. His mom is Ruby and dad is King.
Meet Belle…3 Year Old – Girl. Belle is the smoothest runner of the Disney litter. She has the nicest physique. She runs like a clock, consistent and smooth as the second hand. Belle is the mom of our newest litter, the Canadian Litter! She is an outstanding, loving and caring mom. She has raised probably our best litter so far! Belle ran a lot in swing position last season, directly behind the leaders. She is the top candidate for future leader. Belle has a heart shaped marking on her face if you look closely and looks so much like her mom, Ruby, that its often confusing as to who is whom. Belle’s daughter Maple, also has this same hear shape on her head/face, making the 3rd generation for this marking! Last year she completed the Solstice 50, Yukon Quest 300 and Percy DeWolfe 200. She is the sister of Simba, Pocahontas, Ariel and Jasmine (Disney Litter). Her dad is King and mom is Ruby.
Meet Konan…(The Barbarian)…4 Year Old – Boy. Konan was the 1st of 7 pups born in 2015 to the ‘Special K’ litter, making him the very first puppy for the Nautique Sky Kennel! He already is, and will continue to be, a very important player on the Nautique Sky Dog Team. He finished his first 200 mile race in the winter of 2017. Konan is our main leader, making him basically the most important dog on our team. While other dogs can lead, we count on him to be the best leader of anyone! One of his strengths is the ‘line out’ command where he keeps the gang line straight and taut while in the lead position. Deke says, “Line Out Konan” and the slack in the line immediately becomes tight! He’s a very chill dude and rarely ever gets too excited about anything, just like his dad, King. Last year he ran in all of our races and solo-led (there are usually two leaders on the line) for hundreds of miles…something that is very demanding for a dog to do! This set him apart from the rest! His mom is Kali. He is the brother of Kira, Kindle, Kasper, Kross, Kusto and Kub.
Meet Tok…8.5 Year Old – Boy. Tok is one of the original 8 dogs that started the Nautique Sky Kennel. Tok was born in Kiruna, Sweden and lived on a kennel that was only 15 miles from the famous Ice Hotel. He has earned a solid spot on our team year after year. He is one of the most ornery and challenging dogs on the line as he likes to chew on the line while he’s stopped. He has a general craziness about him and that’s why we like him so much! He’s a smooth operator, however, being one of a few dogs on our team that rarely gets tired…he’s a finisher! When it’s time for a hook up, Tok is known for sitting patiently, tapping his right front foot, watching us hoping and waiting to be selected. Once he knows he is selected, brace yourself for impact! Tok is often placed in the wheel position, directly in front of the sled, because he’s really great at switching back and forth under the line predicting the turns. Tok was Gimli’s uncle and you can see many resemblances from Gimli with beautiful red fur and a bit of a crazy personality. Last year he completed the Solstice 50, Yukon Quest 300 and Percy DeWolfe 200. Tok’s son is Nemo.
Blaze came to us from Jessie Holmes Kennel (Life Below Zero) with the idea of adding a solid veteran to our race team. He’s a very handsome, tall, thick furred boy with an amazing personality and incredible drive. He was turn key when we got him and plugged into the team perfectly. He almost always runs next to Marley as both of them kinda have the same running gait. He has a huge heart too and because he impressed me so much with his desire to run, he earned the right to wear our Legend, Gimli’s collar! Blaze has competed in the 2018 Iditarod and Kuskokwim 300.
Meet Marley…2.5 Year Old – Boy. We are super excited to have Marley join the Nautique Sky Kennel coming from Jessie Holmes (Life Below Zero). Marley is a super cool dude! He comes equipped with a thick winter coat, great feet, a tremendous appetite and really friendly personality. Since Marley doesn’t have much experience running yet, we make sure to keep his runs short, exciting and fun. He’s still getting used to Deke and his new family. We hope he has what it takes to make the race team this year!
The tall, kinda clumsy kid that sometimes trips over his own feet! When he was born, one of his eyes kind of looked a bit sideways, so we embraced it and named him Kross. He currently has a ten mile limit, and I mean exactly 10 mile limit. Once that mark has been met, Kross lays down and says he will not run any longer. 🙂 Therefore, Kross didn’t make the race team last year, so we will try again this year. If in fact Kross is not be cut out to be a sled dog, he’s still an unbelievable companion and super obedient, wonderful dog. Somehow Kross showed up into the world as a black dog. We didn’t understand this as all his siblings (Kindle, Kira, Konan, Kub, Kusto, and Kasper) are white or brown and his mom Kali and dad King are both white, but it goes to show just how deep the gene pool is in sled dogs. Kross has four white feet and a white tipped tail. He’s a super special and unique dog!
Meet Jasmine…(Jazz)…3 Year Old – Girl. Jasmine became a sold lead dog during her 1st winter when all five of the puppies (including Jasmine) went for a mush following our old female leader Nyx. We stopped to take a break, and Nyx decided to run back home so I was left leaderless! After trying all five puppies to lead our little team back home, Jasmine took charge and thus, the birth of a leader! She spends most of her time in training with Lillith so she can learn from the best! Compared to her 3 other sisters, she’s the most calm and polite. Last year Jasmine got knocked out of most of the racing season due to a porcupine encounter, and then a torn bicep muscle. It was a huge blow to our team since we were counting on her leadership! She completed the Solstice 50, and started the Yukon Quest 300, but needed to drop her 100 miles in. Can’t wait to have her back this year! She is the sister of Ariel, Belle, Pocahontas, Simba (Disney Litter). Her mother is Ruby and father is King.
Meet Nemo…8 Year Old – Boy. Deke’s favorite sled dog! He’s always ready to go, always eats his food, never argues and just seems to really enjoy life no matter if it’s laying on the couch or on a 100 mile run. Nemo isn’t a lead dog, but has become a huge asset to our young kennel because he is always so solid. No matter who he runs with or what position, we know Nemo will always do a wonderful job. He’s Blue Collar and we love him for that! Nemo is part of the original 8 and this will be his 6th season running with Deke. Nemo is related to our dogs from Sweden, with both of his parents being born there. Last year he completed the Solstice 50, Yukon Quest 300 and Percy DeWolfe 200. Nemo’s mother is Lotta and father is Tok.
Meet Kira…4 Year Old – Girl. Kira is the smallest of all of her litter mates. She had a great 1st season in 2016, finishing the Two Rivers 200 and became a wonderful dog for our sled tours. She also has the most beautiful pure white coat. Unfortunately for Kira, last year she suffered an Achilles Heel rupture where she severed every single ligament, but she proved to be a really fast healer! She’s now in fall training and everything points to a full recovery as she’s training with the main race team and looking really great! Kira’s mom is Kali, dad is King. She is the sister of Kindle, Konan, Kapser, Kub, Kross and Kusto.
Meet T4…5 Year Old – Girl. T4 is a foreign import as she came from Carcross, Canada and was previously owned by Crispin Studer. Deke asked why she was given the name T4 and it turns out its the version of our W-2 tax form! Ok! T4 is officially our smallest dog, but will run a lot in lead! She is from a very successful and very fast mid distance kennel. Deke is sure we will have to slow her down a bit to run 1000 miles. She is incredibly sweet and acts like she could be a lap dog. We are looking forward to seeing her racing style and getting to know her better. She arrived to the Nautique Sky Kennel in the first week of October. She looks like Kindle a bit too or maybe a chihuahua head on a sled dog body?!
Meet Mr. Kusto…4 Year Old – Boy. Kusto is named after the famous French Oceanographer, Jacques Cousteau. A funny thing about Kusto, we found out after we named him, he is afraid of the water! Although, he is not afraid of the frozen white stuff. He has developed into a leader of our kennel. Kusto is very fast, powerful and has a tremendously smooth gait. While in lead, he’s a lot like Pac Man, always wanting to devour more trail. He completed the Two Rivers 200 as a yearling. Last year, he completed the Solstice 50, Yukon Quest 300 and Percy DeWolfe 200. He’ll be a key player in our continued success for a long time coming…just a super solid race dog! He runs best next to his brother Konan. Kusto is the dad of our Canadian Litter (puppies) with Belle! Kusto’s mom is Kali, dad is King, he’s a perfect blend of them. He is the brother of Kira, Kindle, Kasper, Kub, Kross, and Konan.
YUKON QUEST 1000 FREE AGENTS
These kids didn’t make the race team this season, but still an important part of the team helping with tours, training the race dogs, and we’ll see if they make the team next year!
Meet Kali…7 Year Old – Girl. Our 1st dog ever for Nautique Sky Kennel! If we could rename her it would be Crash, for all the incidents she’s gotten herself into. Her speed is what we love and as Forrest Gump would say, “She can run like the wind blows!” She runs almost exclusively in lead and her speed and determination are unmatched by any other dog in our kennel. She’s pretty high maintenance due to her thin coat of fur so she is the 1st to get her dog jacket put on. She is also the first one to get her after-race massage. Over the years, Kali has developed some arthritis in her right knee and we thought she would be done as a racing sled dog. Luckily, we found a magical treatment for her. The vet describes it as WD-40 for dog joints and it’s even better than that! She’s having such great success with the treatment that we are considering her for a super legitimate chance of making the race team. Kali is the mother of our “Special K” litter of Kusto, Kub, Kross, Kasper, Konan, Kira and Kindle.
Meet Kasper…4 Year Old – Boy. The Friendly Ghost! Kasper is a super nice guy, so his name ended up fitting him perfectly. Kasper can run with anyone or even off his chain around the dog yard. Last year, as a two year old, he trained with all the race dogs, but didn’t quite make the team. We shall try again this year and so far, so good! Kasper and his brother Kub are extremely fast when not in harness (free running) and often get to help their human Dad make the trails with the snow machine (snowmobile). Overall, he’s just a great, happy and sweet boy! His dad is King and mom is Kali. He is the brother of Kira, Kindle, Kub, Kusto, Kross and Konan.
Meet Luna…6.5 Year Old – Girl. Our high-profile athlete with the attitude to match! Luna is very physically gifted, but often has an attitude that reminds us of a spoiled professional athlete. “Practice? We talkin’ bout practice?” This quote is a perfect way to describe her cause she thinks she’s already the best! Luna is also fondly called “Princess Luna” as she prefers to not get wet and keeps herself perfectly groomed. She even covers her poop with straw! Luna was our 2nd dog at Nautique Sky Kennel and was a pet before we started mushing, which may explain some things…however she has all the tools to be an excellent lead dog and we are working hard on that! Deke’s uncanny Swedish connection continues with Luna, as her mom was born on the kennel that Deke was a handler for in Kiruna, Sweden! Luna has been on every adventure with Deke including Arctic caribou hunting, cleaning outhouses in Chicken, AK, leading sled tours for guests and is super connected to Deke. He’s pretty sure she’ll make the team and glad for it!
Meet Kub…4 Year Old – Boy. A mirror of his brother Kross, except all white, not black and he’s also tall and a bit clumsy! He is usually super chill and laid back…We believe if he was into it, he would have supported the legalization of a certain substance this past year in Alaska. We are still working with Kub this year, hoping he will make the race team. Kub can run and is superfast, but he hates pacing himself, perhaps he was meant to be a sprinter, not a marathon runner…time will tell. Kub clicks his jaw when he’s hungry or satisfied with the attention he gets…Deke notices and loves it and sometimes we hear Deke clicking back at him. Kub is the brother of Kindle, Kira, Kross, Kusto, Kasper, and Konan. His mom is Kali, dad is King.
Meet Kindle…4 Year Old – Girl. Her picture is worth a 1000 words! Kindle is one of the pups from our 1st litter born at Nautique Sky Kennel, the Special K litter. She has become a cornerstone of our team. She’s kind of a female version of the late Gimli and is always motivating Deke to keep going when mushing. She runs in any position and runs the most often of any of our dogs. Kindle tends to be a little huskier than her litter mates. Deke believes you will see Kindle in every one of our races for the next many years to come. She’s a Nautique Sky Kennel staple and we are lucky to have her. She completed the Two Rivers 200 as a yearling. Last year, she completed the Solstice 50, Yukon Quest 300 and Percy DeWolfe 200. Did I mention that she is absolutely the sweetest?! Her dad is King, mom is Kali. She is the sister of Kira, Kusto, Kross, Konan, Kasper, and Kub.
NAUTIQUE SKY MENTORS
Just like people, the younger and crazier dogs need someone to look up to! I have some incredible mentors that will train with the race team and help teach the puppies.
Meet Ruby…5 Year Old – Girl. Ruby came to us in the summer of 2015. Her father Reef is a two-time golden harness winner (voted most outstanding lead dog of Iditarod) and she’s also our smallest dog at around only 35 pounds. She’s as sweet as they come when she’s not mushing and absolutely balls to the walls crazy when we are mushing. Even though she’s tiny, tiny, tiny, she’s quite a handful on the line with an unbelievable drive to pull. Relax Ruby!!! Last year Ruby completed the Yukon Quest 300 and was our spark plug and motivator the entire race. Unfortunately, Ruby somehow tore her ACL in the spring of 2018 and required extensive surgery for her to be a “normal” dog again. This type of surgery is career-ending for a sled dog, but she’s really enjoying being a house dog and perhaps will be a mother again someday! In 2016, Ruby proved to be the most wonderful mother and gave birth to our “Disney” litter; Pocahontas (Pokey), Ariel, Jasmine, Belle and Simba. (PS…In Simba’s case, how does a 35 pound Ruby create a 65 pound Simba?) 🙂
Meet Lilith…11 Years Young – Girl. She is part of the original 8 and is Deke’s canine soulmate…his most trusted and faithful dog. Lillith will go down as a once-in-a-lifetime sled dog in Deke’s life of mushing. We are all grateful (both humans and dogs) that she has been in our kennel to help us all learn how to mush. She’s been our main leader since we started. She’s 10 years old, and although her racing days may be coming to an end, we look forward to her continued teaching. Her face is turning white and it makes us so sad to know she’s getting older. So for this training season, she’s hanging in there with the race team on 3, 7 and 10 mile runs. Her sister is Lotta, so she also comes from Kiruna, Sweden. Her son is Harold.
Meet King…12 Year Old – Boy. King’s name is very fitting as his demeanor is very regal. He is also known as the STUD…literally. King came to us from a very successful musher, Paul Gebhardt and has completed 6 Iditarods and 1 Yukon Quest 1000 in his mushing career. He is the father of 12 of the pups that have been born at Nautique Sky Kennel (Special K and Disney Litters) and he’s also the grandpa of our five puppies, the Canadian litter. We needed a rock solid sled dog to sire our future teams and he hasn’t disappointed. Super great coat, feet and personality are his greatest traits…and he runs like the wind, still keeping up with the pups. King is the father of Kusto, Kub, Kross, Kasper, Konan, Kira, Kindle and Jasmine, Aerial, Belle, Pocahontas and Simba.
Meet Harold…7 Year Old – Boy. Mr. Crazy, Mr. Tough Guy, Mr. Cool are Harold’s names depending on his mood. One of our most well-behaved dogs on the line and least well-behaved off the line! He’s also nothing but muscle and lets the younger pups know who’s the boss every chance he gets. If there’s a known problem with one of the more inexperienced dogs, we set them up next to Harold and have immediate correction. It’s amazing how fast they learn from him! Harold usually runs in wheel, directly in front of the sled, but gets along just fine anywhere else as well. His mom is Lillith., so he also has the Swedish bloodlines.
Meet Lotta…11 Year Old – Girl. Lotta is just a wonderful dog! There’s not much else to say. She gets along with all the dogs, she can lead, she can run in wheel, she can sleep on the couch (and won’t budge), go for car rides, play with little human Nolan, comes when called, takes the puppies for a walk, always smiling, always happy, snores a little bit and is nothing but a great dog and wonderful soul! She’s just over 10 years old and is Lillith’s sister. Lotta was born in Kiruna, Sweden.
NAUTIQUE SKY Yearlings
These puppies were born at the end of June, 2018. Their parents are Belle and Kusto, which were Deke’s puppies, so they are the first litter to be considered as “Deke’s Bloodlines” or Nautique Sky Kennel Bloodlines, which is very exciting!
Meet Bubba…Boy. Bubba is a big boy. He is solid and heavy! He has a white heart shaped mark on his head. He likes to hang back and walk alongside me. He also likes to carry something in his mouth as we walk, lately it has been a new cluster of spruce.
Meet Molson…Girl. Molson is a very sweet little girl. She always runs back to me as she loves to kiss my face when we are on our daily free walks. She is so happy she squeals! She is mostly white but also has a partly light tan coat. She has a very tight bond with her sister Toonie.
Meet Maple…Girl. Maple is the smallest of the litter. She is not as social to people but she is not afraid of any of the adult dogs! She is always off on her own exploring and can often be found running with the Lead Dog on our walks.
Meet Poutine…Boy. Poutine is a male who looks a lot like his very handsome Grandfather King. He has an ash color with black accents on his ears, neck and tail. He is very curious and likes to run alongside the Lead Dog on our daily free walks.
Meet Toonie…Girl. Toonie is one of the sweetest of the litter. She is very similar in appearance to Molson. She has a light tan color over her white coat and a white tip on her tail. Along with Molson, these two girls are currently the fastest runners of the litter and are usually in the lead!