Uncommon Journeys’ sled dogs need new homes.
The high-end Yukon adventure company is closing, selling all its yurts, cabins and gear and giving away more than 20 Alaskan huskies.
The gear and cabins are easy to part with, but the dogs are another story.
“It is brutal,” said Martha Taylor, who owns the company with her husband Rod Taylor.
When the first dog, Patch, left for its new home, Martha and Rod’s seven-year-old daughter Hayley “bawled her eyes out.”
“Then the next morning she woke up and said, ‘It’s my first morning without Patch,’” said Martha.
Hayley is part of the reason the business is closing.
“Running a business, managing staff and guests and working with all the dogs is a huge commitment,” said Martha.
“And we were giving this huge time commitment to dog care, and Hayley was ending up farther down the list.”
Martha also found herself running most of the business solo last winter. “And it really needs both of us,” she said.
Rod’s new job, working as a director and chief operating officer for a Canada-wide waste-to-energy company based out of Vancouver, kept him away for weeks at a time.
“He was away most of the winter, and while I had a manager, the business really needs both of us,” said Martha.
Uncommon Journeys catered to high-end clients from all over the world, offering deluxe trips through the Yukon wilderness to heated yurts complete with gourmet meals, fine wine and down comforters. Week trips by dog team started at $3,670, not including airfare.
This year, Martha and Rod are directing potential customers to Muktuk Adventures and Yukon Wild, although the style of trips differ with each tour operator.
“We thought about selling the business,” said Martha.
“But we didn’t want to move, and without the land, outdoor companies don’t have much value.
“And selling the land, then trying to find somewhere else to live seems silly,” she said.
A dozen of Uncommon Journeys’ sled dogs are going to go with one of its former guides, who’d been with the company five years. “And we’re keeping all the dogs who are eight and over,” said Martha. That’s another 20.
Hayley is also keeping her team of two dogs.
The remaining 20 are in need of homes.
Martha wants to make sure they all find good placements. “And that will take as long as it takes,” she said.
When Rod first got into creating energy from waste he was just “dabbling,” said Martha. “But then it really took off.” Today, his company, Waste to Energy Canada deals in everything from environmentally sustainable solid waste management to renewable energy and water services that use wastewater and storm water.
Starting this fall, it looks like Rod, who lost the Yukon Party leadership race to Darrell Pasloski earlier this year, will be spending 10 days in Vancouver and five at home for the foreseeable future, she said.
Martha is not as sure of her own future.
“The reasons we shut down are not because I wanted to launch into a new career,” she said. And going back to work after spending most of her life self-employed is somewhat daunting.
Besides being a mom, Martha plans to coast until Christmas, before looking for part-time work.
“It’s bittersweet,” she said.
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