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Meet Laura & Neil Burton
Distance Mushers

Name: Laura & Neil Burton
Kennel Name: K-Lane Kennels
Birthplace: Calgary, Alberta / Maple Creek, Saskatchewan
Home Town: Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Occupation: Owners/Operators Boarding/Grooming Kennel

Introduction

Neil and I have been married 19 years. We reside at the kennel and our family includes our four legged furry friends: Ben, Buck, Tucker, Reverse, Silver, Ice, Polar, Kola, Kozy, Dakota, Reno, Dingo, Busy, Sissy, Panda, Kodiak, Kanuck, Meika, Timber, Porriage, Tesoro, Cheena, Yukon, Columbus and Bob, the kennel cat. As my mother says "we have gone to the dogs." Our main interest in life at this time is our sled dogs. We are very involved in them and spend most of our time in the fall and winter training and running. During the summer the boarding facility is very busy and takes up most of our time. We are members of the CKC and SHCC.

Background

What is your primary sled dog activity or area of interest?
Our main sled dog activity is mid and long distance.

How long have you been involved with sled dogs?
We have been involved with our dogs for 7 years starting with one and growing. We were going to quit at 12 but just don’t know what happened.

Dakota - Waiting to Go
Dakota - Waiting to Go
What sparked your initial interest in sled dogs?
Our first Siberian, Dakota, we acquired from a friend who was moving from the country to the city. The first time we laid eyes on her we were hooked. She was just the most beautiful animal we had ever seen. After meeting some sledding enthusiasts we decided this is what we wanted to do so we traced back to where Dakota came from and off we went to get a new puppy.

Well, we came home with two and so our family began to grow and grow and grow. Some friends of ours were involved with a charity run in Manitoba called Mushing for Miracles for the Canadian Cancer Society so we sent Dakota for the winter to train and be part of this wonderful event. It was very hard not to have her around but we felt this was the best way to have her trained by someone who knew what they were doing.

If you remember your very first time behind a team of dogs, tell us about it.
I remember the first time we went out with Dakota, Sissy and Timber. Down the road, oops the ditch and into an open field with snow up to our waists. Well, I guess practice makes perfect.

Who have been your mentors?
Our mentors over the years include a number of people - Bob Draward, Doris Prefontaine and Martin Buser. Bob being a long time musher, Doris a world sprint champion, and, of course, Martin. I met him at an ISDRA Conference in Winnipeg a few years ago. I learned so much just listening to him speak. A truly wonderful family man who’s way with his dogs is truly amazing. Bob and Doris have always been there for us sharing their ideas and opinions, but always free and willing to give us sound advice.

Kennel Management

What size kennel do you operate?
At present we have 19 wonderful huskies--15 adults and 4 puppies to begin training with this fall and winter.

Give us an overview of your feeding program.
We feed EAGLE SUPER PREMIUM PET FOOD and supplement with a mixture of ground beef and fat when we begin training and running.

Summarize your basic kennel management style.
Our kennel management style would be lots of TLC, good nutrition, shelter, vet care.

The Dogs

What breed(s) do you work with?
Our kennel basically consists of Siberian Huskies with a few Alaskans.

What physical characteristics do you look for in your dogs?
What mental or emotional attributes do you require in your dogs?
Although physical characteristics are important, it is more important for good temperaments and heart. The basic desire to run.

Tell us about an all time favorite dog or two.
All our dogs are very special and dear to us. I guess one of our favorites would be Franco - our first lead dog - who we purchased - he taught us so much as well as the dogs. He always was there and did his job when times got rough.

Kanuck
Kanuck

Puppies

What criteria do you use for selecting breeding stock?
When choosing breeding stock, the important factors we look for are a clean bill of health and temperament.

What method do you use for starting pups?
We found the easiest way to train pups is just put them in a small team and away we go. All pups, however, are very well socialized by this time with both humans and dogs.

What is the most important thing you look for in a young pup?
Again the most important thing is a pup is the desire to run. Making it fun for the dogs is very important.

Dakota & Baby Kanuck
Dakota & Baby Kanuck

The Future

What can individual mushers do to support and promote the sport?
Sled dog sports are growing rapidly. There are a lot of people out there, however, that need to be educated on sled dogs. Mushers must take the time when promoting to assure the outside world that this is what the dogs love to do - run, run, run - that is what they were born and bred to do, and that these dogs are not being mistreated by making them run.

What advice would you give a beginning musher?
Advice to a beginning musher if they are serious about the sport would be to invest in a good leader. They will teach you and your dogs.

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