Elskan and Ember – January 16,2010

I always wanted a sled dog. I was just a city kid with an ugly mutt of a dog – who,though sweet, looked more like a wolfhound and a schnauzer had a bad accident than any kind of working sled dog. I just loved them. I loved the idea of having a dog who loved sledding as much as I did.

It was such a weird thing to want. Good dreams fade but they never truly leave you.

In 2009, the dream became reality. In a spur of shear insanity – which most mushers will attest to that’s how these things start – we bought two Alaskan Malamute puppies from a kennel in Oklahoma. Not a mushing kennel. No proven pullling parents. Just a crazy whim of an idea while we raised our 2 year old and – oh yeah – twin infant daughters.

9 week Elskan with 7 month old
Maddy and Maelle

Everyone said we were nuts. We were. No argument there. Who buys alaskan malamute puppies when you have 3 kids under 3? Crazy people.

Ember and Elskan were notorious malamutes. Headstrong. Determined. awkwardly big. Lovable beasts. They taught us a great deal in those early days about sensitive stomachs, puppy life, sibling rivalry, and the absolute joy of snow and the peace that only mushing can bring.

Justin trained them with a bike. With tires. With old and odd sleds. They learned and we learned how this whole mushing life existed. We have so many stories now that we think back and shudder, “what were we thinking?!” (like dude, you started your run inside a garage and prayed the automatic door would go up before they pulled you in to it?!)

Elskan was Justin’s and Ember was mine so of course if either had the other dog as their leader…they would not listen. Only glance back at you and almost snicker at your command.

Not too much longer and we added one more malamute to the mix. Mauki. Another Oklahoma native with no experience…but just as willing and dare I say, more gentle.

Mushing became our family thing. Go mush, make a camp, drink hot chocolate, play in the snow and go home.

Justin with Ember, Mauki, and Elskan
The girls and I making snow angels
Eva on the runners with Maddy. 2011.

It’s not hard to see how it continued to progress. How Eva began to dream her dreams. How the yearly following the Iditarod like people watching the Super Bowl affected our girls. Eva’s dream of running the Jr. Iditarod was entirely fueled by her love for and life with sled dogs.

As the years marched on and Eva began filling the yard with race dogs, the malamutes continued to enjoy their rec runs and hard family pulls. They aged and began to move slower. Mauki developed a very mysterious and random illness that ended his life in 2019. And as we mourned the loss of him, Elskan was diagnosed with congestive heart failure.

We knew this day would come. When the time to say goodbye to such a sweet trailblazer would be at our door. She’s 12. And for malamutes…especially the bigger gals like Elskan…that’s about the time. We have treated her CHF with medicine but ultimately knew that it was only a band aid on a slowly oozing unstoppable wound.

How do we thank her for joining us on this wild and crazy adventure? For being willing (mostly) to obey our weird commands. For helping us raise our daughters. For being that goofy “bull in a China shop” puppy that never grew up.

I think the only thank you is a life full of love.

Elskan is the Icelandic word for sweetheart. And it’s very fitting.

So as we say goodbye to our original trailblazer…and help her twin sister who has always been with her to deal with the loss…we say thank you, Elskan. “Allt er i lagi” (all is ok)

*written by Mama Katt

All hands and paws on deck!

It’s an all dog weekend.

Our “boot maker” extraordinaire is busy!

Race booties

Our “treat maker” is busy:

Eva Diva Puppy Snacks

And because we ran out of time and…er…funds to order a sled bag for Justin’s sled in time for this year’s races, he’s busy at work too:

Justin’s new sled bag

It takes a lot of people with a lot of talents to support this venture. Good thing we love her!!

Define hard.

“It must be really hard to live there.”

That’s the most common phrase I hear when I tell people that I live in North Dakota.

Maybe it’s the weather. Maybe it’s the lack of big populous areas to provide the latest entertainment. Maybe it’s the lack of trees. Or how most things move quite slow around here. Fashion trends are typically a few years behind even with social media’s incessant need to tell us what is “in”. Or maybe it’s the wind.

It could be the wind. It.never.stops. Pioneers were known to have gone crazy here due to the wind. Truth.

The requirement to drive at least an hour to a “city” does make matters a bit difficult.

But hard?

I could see why someone who grew up in a city of a million people would think it was hard to have a graduating class of 8. And yes moving into that class at the age of 15 when the other 7 have been together since before preschool is…awkward.

To me hard has an entirely different meaning. Is -50 windchill hard? Yes, if I have to be out in it long. But 99 degrees is way harder.

Loud noises and crowded streets. Exhausting. Give me snow covered trails and the hooting of a great horned owl.

Barking dogs in the city…barking dogs in the country…well equal perhaps in that barking dogs are annoying. But, dogs bark for a reason and I’d rather them bark at the barn cat that I can chase away.

Spending an afternoon filling the dog houses with straw in single digit temperatures is entirely worth it to turn around and see this:

Hard to live here? Not nearly as hard as it would be to leave here.

*Mama Katt

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hey everyone! Just a friendly reminder; our blog posts are on Fridays but due to Thanksgiving, this week’s post is a Wednesday. Alright, now that that’s out of the way, let’s dive-in!

Let’s just be honest, shall we, Thanksgiving is a weird holiday. It’s right in the middle of two other big holidays! Regardless, however strange it may be, we’re still going to let you in on our Thanksgiving plans. Ok, so this year we don’t really know what we’re doing, honest. For some people Thanksgiving is for football, well, we’re mushers so we don’t know much about football. Other mushers go on a ride for the holiday, not us, we started training late and we don’t have snow anyway. Some families get together and catch up, we could do that but, we’d rather not cause any inconvenience. So, we don’t know. Looks like we’ll just have to have some turkey and play board games!


If you would like to contact us feel free to on Facebook @evadivapuppysnacks or on Instagram @divadogsracing



Start of Fall Training

Hey everyone! Today, we’re starting weekly blog posts here at Diva Dogs Racing! Every Friday, we’ll have a new post for you on the blog except for next week then the post will be on Wednesday because of Thanksgiving!

Today, we’re going to walk you through our start of Fall Training. This year we’re training with two teams; the Cocoa team and the Frost team. The teams are named after the head Lead dogs. Lead dogs are the dogs that lead the team and listen to commands from the musher, there are usually two Lead dogs but due to our lack of strong Leaders we have a dog that easily runs Lead and a Team dog (a dog that pulls in the middle) running Lead. We also have some yearlings learning their spot on the team, so we’re starting with simply working out all the gray areas formed over the summer. Our first run with both teams was mostly just a joy ride, because the dogs don’t need to pull hard on the first run of the season.

As mushers, we look for the best trails for the dogs. Last year we had a usual route that we took, adding a few miles in here and there. This year, however, we have an even better trail that is easier on the dogs’ paws. We hope to keep switching between the two trails, this way the dogs can’t memorize one route and give up at the turn-around. If we prevent that from happening the dogs will continue to enjoy the ATV, the sled, and just pulling in general.



If you have any questions feel free to contact us on Facebook @evadivapuppysnacks or on Instagram @divadogsracing