This past weekend, Buttermilk served as the site of an annual post-season tradition: the K-9 Uphill. It’s an uphill race for dogs and their owners. But this year, there was a new addition. The dog sledding operation Krabloonik took over the race that benefits Friends of the Aspen Animal Shelter.
Pooches big and small eagerly followed their owners to the base of the mountain Saturday morning to participate in the dog days of post ski season. The third chairlift tower was designated as the starting line for the anxious pups, some of which were up for adoption at the Aspen Animal Shelter.
This is the 21st year the K-9 Uphill has taken place, but the first year it was coordinated by Gina and Danny Phillips, the new owners of Krabloonik. They bought the race from Erik Scarvan of Sundog Athletics in February. They did so at the advice of Seth Sachson, the director of the Aspen Animal Shelter.
“I called and said, ‘Hey, I think this would be a great move. I think it would be good PR for you to interact with the community and be out there and let them meet some of your sled dogs, meet your mushers and learn about Krabloonik. And I think it will pay off for itself a million fold just in good community relations,’” Sachson said.
Danny Phillips said the race seemed like the perfect fit for them.
“It can be a hundred dogs and their people and the dogs are going crazy,” Danny Phillips said. “There’s all these different types of dogs and all these different bloodlines of different dogs but it seems like they all kinda come to be the same and they all want to look up that mountain and they’re all excited. It’s like the sled dogs, there’s a hundred of them taking off all at one time.”
Besides being a fun day for canines and their humans, the event also helps to get dogs adopted. Sachson said two dogs found new homes Saturday.
“Hands down the greatest benefit, I think, is finding a dog a home–fantastic, spectacular,” Sachson said.
Local Trinity Terry and his wife and son adopted two year old Jelly Bean from the shelter the morning of the uphill and then took her up Buttermilk.
“We signed the papers. It was kind of just like the icing on the cake and a little celebration. We had fun,” Terry said.
Now that the uphill is in the hands of Gina and Danny Phillips, they are looking forward to growing it in the coming years so it becomes one of the main fundraising events for Friends of the Aspen Animal Shelter. The nonprofit assists, promotes and provides for the welfare, care and health of animals.
“I’m really excited for next year and to have more time to plan it,” Gina Phillips said. “I think we just really want to make it a huge event because it’s such a cool cause and I’d like to make it one of their top fundraisers.”
Friends of the Aspen Animal Shelter is responsible for neutering and spaying Krabloonik’s sled dogs so the event helps benefit both parties.