Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Buddy made the front page of the Anchorage Daily News on Saturday, and I made page 3! Buddy's story was also told by Ellen DeGeneres on her show this week, so I think his fan base is probably growing exponentially!

Here's the link to read more about Trooper Shanigan and Alaska Wildlife Trooper Thomas Akelkok's "Trooper on the Trail" sled dog program, it is truly innovative! click here to read.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Buddy the Alaskan Hero Dog!

I was so lucky to get a gig producing for NBC's Nightly News and Weekend Today the story of Buddy the Hero Dog! If you haven't seen the video, you can search for Buddy the Hero Dog and you'll see! Here is a nice piece from AP: this

On Friday, Buddy was honored in a ceremony for his "integrity and pluckiness," among other things. He received a silver dog bowl engraved with the Alaska State Trooper insignia, and huge bone and plaque. A CBS reporter told me that Buddy's ceremony had the biggest press turnout that he's seen since the Palin days!

That night (really the next morning 3:30AM our time, which is 7:30AM in New York), we prepared to shoot the segment for Weekend Today, which aired live at 8:08 NYC time. It went well, but as you can see, Buddy was very sleepy after his busy day! If you do see the Today video, there is a bit at the end showing Buddy close-up and I was off camera trying to make him look perky! click here to see Luckily, Trooper Shanigan brought a bag of Yummy Chummies!

The coolest thing about the story is Trooper Shanigan's belief that Buddy was communicating with him during the minute and 45 seconds he spent following Buddy in his car. Trooper Terrence Shanigan is Native (Aleut) and has a team of 16 sled dogs that he is training to be the first Alaska State Trooper dog team. Next winter, they will run portions of the Iditarod Trail and visit bush communities along the way.

Most of Trooper Shanigan's team, if not all, is from bush dog lineage, like Iditarod musher John Baker's dogs out of Kotzebue. Bringing attention to bush dogs is critical, especially now that Bush Vet Eric Jayne is no longer practicing in these communities, bringing much needed spays and neuters and just general vet care. We filmed at a girl's house in Barrow who, when her dog got hit by a snow machine, had to put him on a plane alone for vet treatment in Anchorage. And that's in a huge community like Barrow. Most bush dogs would not get that chance. The Anchorage Daily news did a great audio slideshow featuring Trooper Shanigan discussing communicating with Buddy. Click here to see On top of the dog stuff, Trooper Shanigan also works with the rescue of orphaned moose calves in the Willow/Talkeetna area.

The other thing to note is that the town that Ben lives in, Caswell, only has a volunteer fire department, and five houses have been lost to fire in Caswell over the past few years. Ben has decided to join the volunteer force, and there is now talk of creating a true fire station in Caswell with help from the Buddy attention!

Anyway, Buddy now has a Facebook page that Trooper Shanigan started (and they're using my pics, very cool!) and it looks like Buddy is receiving a lot of love! One of the youtube videos of the dashboard cam has gotten over 183,000 hits just since yesterday, and I saw a piece on the BBC! Trooper Shanigan tells me that he, Buddy and Ben will be visiting rural communities in the upcoming weeks to talk about fire safety and public safety.

The family is super nice, mom works at the Lowes in Wasilla and dad is a Sloper (works on the North Slope). Ben is a great guy and it was nice to see how close he and Buddy are, they are truly best friends. Ben said that Buddy has saved his life twice before, chasing bears off while Ben was fishing, and I have no doubt that's true! All in all, this was a hectic but fun 24 hours! And as you can see, Ben has a really cute niece who was way more interested in Buddy's bone award than he was!

Trooper Shanigan's dashboard cam video was described by Moira McLaughlin of as follows:

Sometimes great art happens inadvertently. This morning, I watched this video captured by an Alaska State Trooper's dashboard camera and I burst into tears. It is so haunting, beautiful, dramatic, and primal. It is the essence of dog love and it is a masterpiece."

click here to see the raw video. (And for those who suggest that Buddy got spooked by the police car and was just running away from it, note that he stops dead in his tracks when he gets to his driveway!) Here are some pics. The second-to-last one with Ben, Buddy and Trooper Shanigan reminds me so much of a Norman Rockwell painting!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Barrow pups

Many dogs in Barrow are considered working and are tied to a post in the front yard. Unsurprisingly, I had a problem with that (although we did meet a lot of people who had inside dogs that slept on their beds!) I never saw a dog chained out front that looked hungry, but some of the dogs looked pretty miserable. I had been warned by my coworkers, who know how dog-crazy I am, not to pet the chained dogs! I would take different walking routes sometimes to see dogs that I knew (either the owner told me or it was a puppy) that I could approach. Here are two of my favorites, as you can see they absolutely love the attention.

Here are our clients in front of one of the many colorful eating establishments in Barrow. We got to visit them all several times!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Here's me and the director with a bunch of our "subjects," Barrow middle and high schoolers, who are all great kids! It was sunny but cold, usually in the teens. Of course these Barrow kids are just wearing windbreakers and sweatshirts!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

We were supposed to come home from Barrow later this week, but we ended up fitting everything we had to shoot in fewer days, so we all got to come early! I will continue to post pics of Barrow, but in the meantime, here is a pic recently taken for some promotional material for my company. This is who I work with--as you can see I'm the only female, and two are older and three younger, so I'm right in the middle!

Another sunset...

The sunsets got later and later, but we were present taking pictures at most of them! On this particular night the sun set at 10:50PM, which meant that we were out there until after 11PM and I'm not going to say it wasn't chilly. Here, my coworker Zak shoots time lapse video of the sun setting at the famous arch.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Water and ice

I took the aerial pics flying into Barrow, when we were just about to land. The others are are of various groups of whalers we saw heading out on the ice on different days.

Whaling season is on, and we saw teams of whalers going out almost every day we were there. These men have snowmachines with sleds attached containing tents and other whaling gear. They set up whaling camps at spots in the open water.

I asked how long they stay out there, and someone told me, "Until they have a whale." When a group does get a whale, it's a major community event and everyone drops everything (even school kids) to participate in harvesting the whale. Later on, everyone in the community and even those from other villages share the whale meat and muktuk (whale skin and blubber). We were sort of hoping a whale would be caught while we were there, but it definitely would have interfered with our filming!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

People drive snowmachines around in Barrow like cars. They're zipping around all over the place, and there are always several parked in front of the high school, AC store and restaurants. This sighting was amusing and scary. I guess there's no room for a child seat on a snowmachine!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Top of the world!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Well, no polar bear sightings yet, but the sea ice is gorgeous anyway! Here's a pic I took at sunset, around 10:15PM this evening.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Off to Barrow!

I'm posting my last three pics from the Iditarod start, a few more of my fave mushers: Dee Dee Jonrowe (because she's a breast cancer survivor and amazing person), Sebastian Schnuelle (Canadian, super nice guy and Yukon Quest winner, plus has hair even crazier than mine) and Jeff King (a legend).

I'm off tomorrow for work to Barrow for nine days. Barrow is the northernmost state in the US, I might even see Russia from there!

Currently, the sun rises in Barrow at 6:30AM and sets at 10:30PM. The temps have been hovering near 0 but this week it should be around 20F, which is great! I will keep my eyes peeled for polar bears!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

sun worship

You've probably all heard about how during the winter months in AK, some people get SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, and combat it with 20 minutes or so a day with a sun lamp. Some dogs enjoy the sun lamp, too. 16 1/2 year-old retired sled dog Felicity could happily relax in front of a sun lamp all day!

Saturday, April 03, 2010


I saw this beauty on my way to work last week, about a block from my house...of course, I did a u-turn and parked to take pics. (will I ever get over seeing moose randomly in a big city?)
As you can see, there's still snow on the ground but it's sunny and warm (30's-low 40's) and we are officially in breakup season. Spring is here!