Canine for Charity 2019 - Wyoming Magazine

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Canine for Charity 2019

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Canine for Charity 2019

By: Eric Salveggio

24th Annual Canine for Charity Dog Sled Races

Nolan Keller

Light is just entering the meadow. Crunching snow underfoot. Frosty breaths. Huskies singing, dogs barking, all dancing at the end of their leads. Mushers laying out lines in front of the dog sleds. So begins another day at the 24th Annual Canine for Charity dog sled races held on Casper Mountain, January 26th and 27th. Floyd and Pam Dunn, coordinators and contestants themselves, arrive with their teams of dogs, help their own granddaughter get ready, while Floyd is busy with trail maintenance and safety.

Among the 40 contestants at this year’s event, the types and sizes of dogs are as varied as to where they hail from. While the majority of teams are from Wyoming – Gillette, Sheridan, Casper, and others, Colorado, Utah, Montana, and South Dakota are represented, and even exchange students from the Pyrenees and the Czech Republic who helped out, making this a truly international event!

Addie Keller

Among the regulars seen – Tara Lynn, #24 (Gilette), and Mariah Henderson #57 (Casper), Ben Keller, of Sheridan, was here once again with his home-made sleds, and children who love to run – two of his youngest, Addie (#9) and Nolan (#13), ran the 3 mile and 1-mile loops, while his oldest daughter Braylin (#115) ran the 3-mile as well.  It’s always a pleasure watching these kids grow as they mush, as it is all the children who run – it’s a legacy of love for dogs, the outdoors, and a sport that, well, just makes you smile as you watch the dogs run and listen to them sing.

Tara Lynn

Among the teams and mushers outstanding this year were a pair of sisters, Marina and Sophia Koepke from Colorado. Both sisters attend Colorado State University; Marina finishing her Masters in  Electrical Engineering (with a previous BS degree in Physics), and Sophia working on her Bachelors degree in  Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology.  These ladies are not only smart, and beautiful, but also have hearts as tender as the noses of the pups they love to run.

Marina Koepke

What makes these ladies stand out is not just the obvious care they show for their dogs – it’s the dogs themselves. While every team have dogs that are special, and have their own personalities, very few, if ANY, can claim that their dogs came from rescue operations! That’s right – from dogs that didn’t make the cut on the show circuit, others who were being run too hard from other professional teams and were being abandoned, to others who came through places like the North Star Husky Rescue, all these dogs have a similar story – they were all taken in, adopted, and became part of these lady’s pack, and family. And, honestly, watching them run, you’d never know they hadn’t grown up together. What a testimony to those who can be classed as ‘dog whisperers’! These pups show their love and devotion by running with huge smiles and heart as big as the outdoors they run in – well done! As another year draws to a close, there really are no losers – in this sport, all are winners – from the smiling dogs, the mushers who love them, the volunteers, and most of all, the great state of Wyoming who hosts the event!

Sophia Koepke

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