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I still remember the day I picked Kyla up at the airport. She was silent, I had to pull words out of her mouth. The first few days were interesting. I was getting ready to go up north to mining camp for over a month, to make the chunk of money I needed to be able to run my second Quest. Kyla was 19, she had just moved to Alaska from Northern California and I was leaving her in my dry cabin with 35 sled dogs she had just met. My Dad would be around to help with anything she needed help with, like hauling water and dog food, but for the most part Kyla was on her own.

When I came back from mining to happy dogs, I knew I had a special person! Kyla was able to create a bond with the dogs during that month that would continue to grow for years and years. When I returned, I found out that Kyla would talk about the dogs, so we had a new way to communicate…just a little! With that, our adventure began. Kyla was my handler for four years, and she completely devoted her life to Wild and Free for every minute of that time! She was my handler for every race over two seasons, including the 1000 Mile 2010 Yukon Quest, before entering and finishing her first Yukon Quest in 2011.

After two seasons of being in my shadow, she was able to learn what she needed to gain my trust and confidence to sign up to run the Quest with my yearlings. During the 2010-11 season Kyla was completely in charge of training my yearlings and running them in both the Gin Gin 200 and the Copper Basin 300, so that she could qualify for the 1000 Mile Yukon Quest. She battled through some tough qualifiers and finished both races, which sent her to the Quest. Then, in one of the the toughest Yukon Quests in history, Kyla guided her team of pups down the trail led by veterans Madonna and Molly, to an 11th place finish.  This was a race that over half of the mushers scratched. Throughout all the obstacles thrown at her, she kept a positive attitude and gave the yearlings an amazing experience.

Kyla did it again in her second Quest with a brand new set of youngsters! All mushers know that a good handler makes or breaks your kennel. I was extremely fortunate to have Kyla a part of my team for as long as I did. She was a huge part of the success of Wild and Free Mushing. Although she is off pursuing some of her own dreams now, Kyla will always have a place at Wild and Free Mushing!

HOME TOWN: Upper Lake, CA

OCCUPATION: Former Handler, Wild and Free Support

HOBBIES:  hanging with and running her 5 retired Wild and Free dogs

RACE/EXPEDITION EXPERIENCE: Kyla was my handler for all the races in 2007, ’08, ’09 before she started racing with my puppies in 2010. She has raced in the 2008 Solstice 100, 2010 Gin Gin 200, 2011 Copper Basin 300, 2011 Yukon Quest, 2012 Gin Gin, 2012 CB300, 2012 Yukon Quest.

YEARS WITH WILD AND FREE:  9 years

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