A New Season
As winter arrives, we find ourselves a bit behind with almost all things kennel-business – still tackling and finishing up those projects we aimed to have done by September 1, etc. – and have taken quite some time to post an update here to keep fans and friends informed. For this, we apologize, but harbor no regrets, as we’ve kept plenty busy with our sweet new baby, born early this summer. Atigun has been nothing short of the greatest gift of all time, and Lance has been busy being the most doting father in between endless projects around the kennel.
As many know, Lance struggled earlier this year with some returning health issues, involving, mostly, the circulation in his hands and, specifically, a rather nasty infection in one finger in particular. We worked for several months to get his health back on track, with nearly two of those spent making daily trips to the hospital’s infusion center for an antibiotic drip, that, as you can imagine, was not much fun. It’s been a long road, which of course we all know began some years ago, and we continue chipping away at it each day. For this reason, Lance regretfully withdrew his Iditarod 2017 sign-up, making the tough decision to keep focusing on his health, so as not to end up worse off on the trail than he did in 2016. His family, especially Mama and Baby, though sad to see his spirits knocked down a bit with the prospect of not racing, was relieved at this choice, placing his health and wellbeing above all else. All along, since withdrawing, our aim has been not to think of this as the end, or “retirement”, not at all (and Lance jokes that mushers never do truly retire, but that “retiring” often means coming back after a year off); rather, we’ve had and will continue to have great hopes that our efforts to preserve and boost his health will put him right back on the runners for Iditarod in 2018, better and more ready than ever.
In light of all this, Comeback Kennel has by no means been a sleepy place, and Lance is filling up time (the man can not NOT stay insanely busy at all times, I swear to you) that might have been spent on harder training with constant work to improve the property, the kennel, the tour business that has grown to be quite successful in the past couple of years, and more. We’ve made multiple small plans to run local races, and made multiple bigger plans to travel to Norway, and then Sweden, for Lance to participate in, as well as mentor and speak at several races there. He’s actually had to turn down some invitations to events in other countries. It seems that he will still very much be a part of Iditarod family and culture this year and in the coming years, whether or not he is signed up to race – and that he will also have ample opportunities to see other budding races come to fruition, to help guide new mushers into the sport, and to impart some of his boundless wisdom on people far and wide in more ways than one.
In addition, Lance can’t keep his mind off of racing cars – Legends cars, that is. This summer was his second year behind the wheel on the oval track, and he keeps saying he’s hooked. We even made a quick trip to Las Vegas to be a part of the Fall Classic at the LV Motor Speedway’s Bullring there. It’s a great way to feed the need for speed without the harsh conditions wearing on his constantly cold hands and feet – but he jokes that it’s probably cheaper to have 100 dogs.
On that note, we’ve downsized in dogs a bit, as we’ve not had consistent handlers since Pato and Raelynn went their own way earlier this year (we are so excited for what their future holds), and it’s just easier to manage smaller numbers. Lance’s brother, Jason, is leasing his younger team for the winter, and several other dogs have gone to new homes with friends we trust who, we are proud to say, are giving them the same opportunities to shine that they would have had here. We’ve been grateful for partial kennel help along the way from family, friends, and others who have wanted to gain some dog experience, but just couldn’t stay long (nor fill the big shoes of Pato and Rae!). Needless to say, Lance has been incredibly busy, and we’re hoping to keep finding ways to lighten his load, so he can again focus on getting 150% healthy, and on being the great dad that he is.
We’ll be sure to keep you all posted more often, as other adventures come up. Until then, know that we continue to appreciate the enduring support and friendship that Lance’s fans provide to him without ceasing, whether or not he is on the race trail. This kennel could not be what it is without that energy, and we are truly grateful. We’ll be busy giving sled rides and guiding longer camping trips to those brave adventurers out here in the beautiful hills north of Fairbanks, and we’ll be seeing you all on the Iditarod trail in some capacity soon enough. He just can’t stay away!
For the Love of the Dogs,
Jenne, Lance & Atigun