"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers
Welcome to NaturalsKennel.com.
This Web Site is dedicated to the life style known as mushing and to Natural; nickname, Nat; an Alaskan Huskie, a sled dog; my best friend and the leader of my sled dog team until he became ill on December 8th, 2006.
On that day he was diagnosed with Acute Renal Disease and died on Good Friday of 2008.
I miss him and think of him every day; Nat, I will never forget you.
In October 2009 I lost another best friend; her name was Pie Pie; she was a great lead dog and my friend; she loved to high five; I miss her every day; Pie Pie, I will never forget you.
This site is also dedicated to Paige, Tornado, Elastagirl, Bill, Oz, Monte, Munster, Tops, Barb, Zip, J.P., Scout, Huron, Cleo, Deagle, Aget, affectionately known as Aggie, Zeus, Apollo, Hera, Thor, Aries, Hercules, my pups, Buck, Mac, Christmas, Curtis and Nordic; my team of Alaskan Huskies, most of whom have been my friends for several years now and to Handsome the Malamute I rescued years ago.
I would also like to acknowledge my wife of over 31 years, Sara, for her continued patience; my friend Ed Stielstra and his wife Tasha for everything they have done for me over the past six years as well as Bruce Pearson and Tim VanderMeulen who have taught me so much.
Special thanks to Linda and Rick Lange and Blaine Danley for their constant support.
My gratitude to Tim Hunt for making such a great dog food and for his advice and support.
My sincerest thanks to my friend RJ Williamson for his friendship and support.
I would also like to thank the many Iditarod mushers who I have had the pleasure of meeting and who have shared some of their vast knowledge with me; especially Al Hardman, Jason Barron and Lance Mackey.
And finally I would like to thank my company, ND Industries and its owner for allowing me to chase my dream.
Joe Gutowski With His Lead Dog Nat
Iditarod 2012 I am a rookie in the 2012 Iditarod; there is no way to explain to someone who has never signed up for the Iditarod the excitement and apprehension you feel thinking about running the Last Great Race. Questions constantly come to mind; how do I prepare; what do I need; can I really do this?
Yes, I have run 300 miles qualifying races in preparation for the Iditarod; however in my mind nothing truly prepares you for the Iditarod. With that in mind I will begin my training season on September 1st, like I have every year since the fall of 2006 when I began my first training season with my small team of 8 dogs. I will move my dogs and all my gear to Michigan's Upper Peninsula; this season I will be running out of Al Hardman's Alcan Kennel. Al Hardman has run 4 Iditarods, finishing all four. He has also helped train many other Iditarod finishers.
My goal this season is to prepare my dogs to run long distances at what many would consider a slow yet steady pace; training them to walk when asked for extended distances in preparation for the challenging sections of the Iditarod Trail. My dogs can run fast for 200 - 300 miles; they have proven that in previous races. This season I will be asking them to walk or trot for 1,150 miles.
I will try to keep everyone who visits this website updated as I begin my training season on September 1st, 2011.
The Iditarod, the Last Great Race, starts on Saturday, March 2nd, 2012 with the Ceremonial Run in Anchorage Alaska and officially starts the next day, Sunday, March 3rd, 2012 in Willow Alaska.
My Team At The End Of The Seney 300 In 2011 (Click On Image To Enlarge)
My Handlers For The 2010 UP 200 - RJ Williamson - Linda Lange & Me At The UP 200 Finish (Click On Image To Enlarge)
Leaving The Grand Marais Checkpoint In The 2010 UP 200 (Click On Image To Enlarge)
Curtis Taking A Break In The 2011 Seney 300 (Click On Image To Enlarge)
My Second Trip To Alaska
My trip to Alaska in June of 2007 was fun; Bruce Pearson and I camped in tents for the entire week we were in Alaska. We visited Jeff King's kennel, Lance Mackey's kennel, Martin Buser's kennel and Ramy Reddington's kennel. I purchased a dog from Lance Mackey; there is a picture of Lance, J.P. and I below this story.
The Iditarod Picnic was great fun; all of the Iditarod Mushers were there; I especially enjoyed talking to Ed Iten, GB Jones, Jason Barron and Ramy Reddington.
Pictures of my trip to the 2007 Iditarod Picnic are in the Pictures section of my web site.
I want to thank both Lance Mackey and Martin Buser for all of the time they spent with Bruce and I; especially Lance who was very generous with his time.
Lance Mackey, J.P. And I
How I Became A Musher
Several years ago I traveled with the owner of my company; who by the way is one of the most generous men I have ever known and two other coworkers to a kennel in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to go on a dog sledding adventure. The trip was a disappointment and as a result I lost interest in dog sledding though I did tell friends and family of my adventure. After hearing of my adventure, a family friend, Shirley, began sending me articles clipped out of her local newspaper in Ludington, Michigan about an Iditarod musher, Ed Stielstra; it seems that Ed is a local hero in Ludington and articles frequently appear in the local Ludington paper about him. After several months it became obvious to me that unless I called Ed, Shirley would continue to send me articles and since I was running out of places to store them, I decided to call him. I called only to find out that he was in Alaska; however his wife Tasha invited me up to run a dog team. I ran a 6 dog team after telling Tasha that I knew what I was doing; boy was that a mistake. The dogs I had run in the past were "couch potatoes" compared to the dogs that Ed and Tasha own. I fell off of my sled 4 times in less than a quarter mile; it was ugly; but boy did I enjoy it! Tasha gave me credit for not letting go of the sled; though she would only let me run a 4 dog team in the afternoon; I guess I was demoted.
As they say, the rest is history; I now have 11 dogs from Ed and Tasha's wonderful kennel, four dogs from Jason Barron's kennel, one dog from Lance Mackey's kennel; 4 dogs from Al Hardman's kennel, one dog from Lyle Ross; six puppies of my own and my old Malamute.
My team and I have run in many races the last five seasons; for details view this website.
What These Dogs Mean To Me I wanted to take a minute to tell you what my dogs mean to me. First, they are my friends, you can not possibly understand what I mean unless you own a dog team. While running dogs is fun; owning your own dog team is a blast. The amount of time you spend running the dogs is actually very limited in comparison to the time you spend, playing with them, feeding them, watering them, grooming them, walking with them; you get the idea. When I hook the dogs up to the sled and we go for a run, I like to stop along the trail and sit with my "kids"; they love the attention and just like to lie there and listen to me talk to them and pet them. They are unbelievable athletes who love to run; that to is something you can not appreciate unless you actually run a team of dogs. In my mind they are the world's greatest athletes; pound for pound more powerful than a horse and I should know, I own horses. I am just an admirer and sometimes a passenger in awe of their power and splendor.
Want To Go For A Dog Sled Ride?
If you are interested in experiencing this wonderful life style for the first time? I recommend that you contact Ed & Tasha Stielstra at www.natureskennel.com.
They offer a variety of dog sled adventure packages; it is the best way to learn about dog sledding from people who are professionals in the sport.
Who Are We?
My wife, Sara and I (Joe Gutowski) own Natural's Kennel. We currently own 28 dogs; they are Paige, Tornado, Monte, Munster, Bill, Oz, Elastagirl, Zip, Tops, Barb; J.P., Aget, Cleo, Deagle, Huron, Scout, Christmas, Curtis, Mac, Buck, Zeus, Thor, Hera, Apollo, Aries, Hercules, Nordic and Handsome. We live in Hadley Township, Michigan; our kennel is part of our horse farm. The horse farm sits on 9 acres of land; a tributary of the Flint River runs through the property; our large barn as well as our house overlook our property. I work a day job, my wife is a homemaker.