TALKEETNA, Alaska (KTUU) - With the new year approaching, that means new opportunities. Four-time Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey is ringing in 2019 with a new plan for the future, and a new kennel in Talkeetna to make it all happen.
Dallas Seavey at his kennel in Talkeetna, Alaska.
“We found our spot, and are working on developing the ultimate sled dog playground,” said Seavey, discussing his new Talkeetna property. “You have to build piece by piece."
The 31-year-old musher has been working on the new playground for a decade, and can finally call it home.
“We worked around the clock for 10 years to get where we are now,” Seavey said.
The veteran musher says the major focus of his new property is dog development.
“To now look at a kennel from a human perspective, they have flower pots, it’s all decorated, and the human eye says that’s great, but for a dog, do they care?” Seavey asks.
Making a dog-friendly kennel can be difficult when you’re dealing with 80-100 dogs, but Seavey seems to be making it happen by organizing a four-acre gravel pad that holds a dog yard and shop area.
“The biggest difference with our housing system is each dog has their own zipline run,” said Seavey. “It’s pretty cool because when you look out there it looks like a bunch of loose open dogs.”
Seavey says the zip line gives the dogs about three times as much space as a normal pivot chain that dogs are typically tied to. His ‘ultimate sled dog playground’ also offers six miles of private trail, which he uses in the summer for tours.
Getting closer and closer to his vision of a perfect kennel, Seavey has long-term plans for his property, but as he knows, life doesn’t always go according to plan.
“(It) seems like when it rains it pours,” said Seavey, referring to the past two years of his life.
In October 2017 the Iditarod reported Seavey’s dogs tested positive for opioid painkiller Tramadol, a banned substance.
“It’s been incredibly frustrating. You don’t know how many times I’ve looked back and said, ‘Could I have done anything differently’ to prevent this situation?” said Seavey
He’d spend the next year defending himself, and decided not to compete in the 2018 Iditarod. He would take his talents to Norway instead and finished third in the prestigious Finnmarksløpet.
This past fall, the Iditarod Trail Committee publicly cleared of him of any wrongdoing.
“It used to be I was simply just an athlete. 'Great, you can travel with dogs fast,' ” said Seavey. “I think how we handled this issue, dealing with this issue has put it in another realm.”
With dog doping drama in his past, fans want to know when he’ll be back on the Iditarod Trail.
“I should probably make a decision by now? Shouldn’t I?” said Seavey with a laugh. “One of the interesting things is it doesn’t really bother me.”
But even Seavey still isn't sure if Nome’s burled arch is in the cards this year.
“I’m just training a group of dogs, I’m not signed up for a single race right now," he said with a laugh. "It’s been really fun,” said Seavey.
In the interview the week before Christmas, the four-time Iditarod champ didn’t rule out signing up for The Last Great Race, but said he’s leaning towards the Finnmarksløpet in Norway for the time being.