Takes a village to raise a dog yard!

Three years ago, when we were toying with the idea of getting our own team of dogs, we read a blurb on Sleddog Central that warned something like, “Don’t do it! You’ll end up moving and acquiring more and more dogs until you’re broke!” We laughed and thought, NEVER! Now, here we are. We sold a home we loved in leu of a farm with acreage – and just purchased three more dogs. Loving every minute of the adventure [so far].

For the dog-yard, we decided to clear out the space behind a pole barn, which had obstacles to say the least! But, before I get into that, I feel the need to explain a dog-yard. In south-central Minnesota, dogsledding is a rarity so many people aren’t familiar with Alaskan Husky dog-yards. All of the dogs have their own dog house and are tethered to a swivel when they’re not having free time or running. This is not cruel. This is not cruel. Not…cruel. I was painting a picket fence the other day and I had to keep picking lady bugs out of the paint to save them – just as I continually jump off the riding lawn mower to remove toads from my path. I digress to show that animal cruelty is not a part of who we are. Back to the yard. There are many reasons for the set-up: separate homes give the dogs a safe feeling while still being close enough to one another to feel like a pack, when each dog has a separate space, it’s easy to interact with them – often, we sit on the doghouses with each dog. Another big reason is diet. Sleddogs eat an enormous amount of protein and need to be healthy to run at the pace they want to. Everyday when we clean up the yard, we can see who’s digesting well – if they were all together, we’d have no idea who wasn’t feeling well. But beyond the factual explanations, our dogs are happy. Pure and simple. Sled-dogs aren’t typical dogs, they’re working dogs – that are happy to work and please. I read an article once from a person obviously ignorant about sled dogs; it said that the reason sled dogs run is because they want to get away from being chained up. These types should visit our dogs. We let them off of their tethers and they don’t sprint around like they’ve been locked up – they go pee on everyone else’s houses, then often go back to their own. Now, if they see a harness or the sled being taken out – LOOK OUT! They love and live to pull. There’s a lot of genetic research out there about the subject and makeup of a sled dog; here’s one site if you’re interested in diving deeper:¬†https://www.genome.gov/27540617/

Okay – so here it is: our dog-yard! Yay!



This is going to be our dog yard!

We had to clear out several trees and discovered that the ground was full of metal parts from the old farmer. Scrap metal guys came and hauled most of it away. Whew!


Another toy for the project.


We copied some ideas from Martin Buser’s kennel with the gravel base for drainage.


After YouTubing how to install a chain link fence, the work begins. This was a much bigger project than we expected.


Sleddog wannabe


Manitou Crossing kennel has a great dog running area off of their dog yard. We expanded our yard a little for free running space and will fence in more wooded area next year.


Setting the posts. What an exciting day! The post hole digger was another needed toy.


Water run into the barn! Instead of having a trench dug from the well to the barn, we opted for water boring – it was done and cleaned up within a day.


Setting up the kennels. We plan on having some inside the barn too for those really rainy days or hot summer days.


4 separate kennels that can all be opened into one another. For dogs who might be naughty – or maybe for puppies!


Space under the barn overhang for sleds and morning coffee with the team.


Yay! Dogs are here! Loving the space. *Pearl keeping lookout.


Since our dogs had been kept on dirt, the gravel was hard on their pads. We brought in sand for each dog area and it helped right away. This is Jackson.


A toy for the boys.


Finished! Now… the trails!


Girls have big dreams!

And lastly – our three new additions! Rouge, Crash, and Rockstar!