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Meet John Schandelmeier
Alaska Shelter Dog Race Team

Kennel Name:
Home Town:

Web Site:
John Schandelmeier
Crazy Dog Kennels
Anchorage, Alaska
Paxson, Alaska
Commercial Fisherman, Trapper, Builder, Carver

river- crossing


I was born and raised on a homestead near Anchorage, Alaska. Moved to the Paxson area in 1970 and have been here since. Originally I was a full-time trapper here, now it is a sideline. I commercial fish in Bristol Bay and Prince William Sound.

I am the president of the local Fish and Game advisory committee and a member of the Second Chance League of Fairbanks. The Second Chance League is an organization devoted to evaluating and training unwanted sled dogs from the Fairbanks Animal Shelter.

My personal goal is to raise awareness, within the sport, of the ability of these cast-off dogs.


What is your primary sled dog activity or area of interest?
My primary interest is in long-distance mushing events, but I have participated in sprint and stage races, and continue to do so.

If you remember your very first time behind a team of dogs, tell us about it.
My first dogs were used for trapline transportation in the early 1980’s. My first experience was with a 3-dog team made up of a German Shepard, a Black and Tan Hound and a mixed breed sled dog. I spent an hour and a half going 3 miles; later that spring I took this team on a 150 mile trip up a friends’ trapline.

Sled dogs have been an ongoing learning experience for me; rarely a day goes by without discovering something new. I believe that we must constantly be experimenting with new training techniques in an attempt to do the very best we can with our animals.

Kennel Management

What size kennel do you operate?
In the past I have kept about 20 dogs; including pups and retirees.  This season, Zoya DeNure and I have combined our Kennels, added about 20 rescue/shelter dogs for a total of about 50.summer_days.jpg (18379 bytes)

What type of tether/bowl system do you use?
8’ chains; 3 qt. stainless bowls, unattached.

What are the most important considerations in housing sled dogs?
The ability of dogs to reach the other dogs around them to play and interact.  The dogs’ mental heath is by far the most important thing here.  A loose dog should never want to leave the confines of his kennel area, and rarely even leave the immediate circle of his surrounding dogs.

Give us an overview of your feeding program.
Dry kibble in the summer; a good grade of 30/20.   Soaked kibble during training, again good 30/20 with the addition of fish/fat/meat.

Summarize your basic kennel management style.
Interactive, simplistic.

The Dogs

What breed(s) do you work with?
Nothing specific.

What physical characteristics do you look for in your dogs?
4 legs in working order.

What mental or emotional attributes do you require in your dogs?
I believe that all dogs are trainable no matter their emotional state.  We don’t train individual dogs;  we are training a dog team.


What criteria do you use for selecting breeding stock?
Genetic compatibility.

jimmy_joeyDo you use any pre-training evaluation of puppies?
No, all pups are trainable.

What method do you use for starting pups?
Free-running, walks, leash-training.

What is the most important thing you look for in a young dog?
I try not to make any pre-judgement of pups.

At what point do you decide a youngster is likely to make it in your team?
All dogs are capable of making the team.   I have had dogs for as long as 4 years before they were able to competitively race.


What is the training/racing philosophy of your kennel?
All dogs are capable of racing competitively.

Do you have specific training goals for your team(s)?
To work together smoothly as a team.

What do you consider most important to accomplish in training?
Establish trust.

What is the most indispensable training equipment you use?
The gangline.


How do you choose which races to enter?training_run
Normally I would choose the type of race that I personally enjoy, this season my race choices hinge on visibility for our Shelter team.

What are your strengths as a racer?
Patience and the ability to recognize team strength or weakness.

What do you consider your weaknesses, if any?
Race strategy.

Do you have a mushing career goal?
I would like to have the sled dog community be more aware of the dogs that are being culled or passed around, and to take more training time with the dogs they have.

What does it take to win?
Patience, good training techniques.

The Future

What advice would you give a beginning musher?
Don’t be in a hurry, approach this sport with an open mind.

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