Here at the kennel we often get asked: "What does YoopAK mean?". Pronounced "you-pack" this was a name Ryan was given on the Appalachian Trail (AT) in 2012. It is tradition on the AT to be given a nickname, referred to as a trail-name. Ryan was dubbed YoopAK, a combination of the words "Yooper" referring to his Michigan's Upper Peninsula up-bringing and AK for Alaska where he spent several years as a sled dog handler.
When we began on our own kennel we thought long and hard about the appropriate name for our team. We never could quite get it right and tossed ideas back and forth for nearly two years. One day the name just clicked "YoopAK Kennel". This combination of Yooper and Alaska brought our history into the name, and was one we could grow into as a kennel.
YoopAK Kennel and Tours is owned and operated by Ryan and Sarah Freedman. The kennel was established in 2014, and in the fall of 2015 we had the opportunity to relocate to Nenana, AK, where we have been ever since. We are proud to raise our three boys in Alaska's Interior where we hope to instill the love of the outdoors and adventure.
Ryan grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where he gained a deep love for the outdoors. A summer job opportunity in Juneau first brought Ryan to the state in 2010. Over the next several years Ryan spent time split between Alaska as a dog handler and the East Coast where in 2012, Ryan through hiked the Appalachian Trail with his sister, Stephanie.
After 10 years of living in California, Sarah was ready for a change. The lure of Alaska's beauty brought her to a summer position in Juneau, AK. One summer was all it took to be hooked on Alaska and dog mushing. After a year of handling dogs Ryan and Sarah moved to Michigan. Within a year they found themselves home sick for Alaska and fitting everything in a little trailer and driving to Alaska. Within one week of being in Alaska, the first six dogs of YoopAK Kennel were living outside the small dry cabin Ryan, Sarah, and 3 month old Luke called home.
Our home has grown in the years since. YoopAK Kennel is home to our family of six, fifteen working huskies, and a handful of retirees and puppies!