Jen & Michael Raffaeli
Michael and Jen share a deep love of dogs and adventuring. They earned the nickname "Team Alaska" from Buddy since that is where they had been living and working with sled dogs since 2006. They recently left Denali National Park and Preserve and moved to their home in Truckee in April 2020. However, Michael was born in California and they met when we were both living and working in Yosemite many years ago so California is familiar territory and the Sierra holds a special spot in their hearts.
Michael and Jen both always had pets growing up and Jen grew up wanting to be a veterinarian. Jen discovered sled dogs and dog mushing in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota in 1998. Mushing combined everything she loved - dog care, feeding, training and teamwork along with wilderness adventuring and exploring.
Jen met Michael and took him to meet the MN sled dogs and he fell in love too. Fast forward a few years and they were training Iditarod racing dogs in Kotzebue, Alaska for a winter above the Arctic Circle. They lived on Donner Summit and ran sled dogs for a tour operator at Squaw Valley for a winter before getting married in Yosemite. After their
return to Alaska to worked as Rangers in Denali for a few summer seasons. They then spent a few winters working for another Iditarod and Yukon Quest racing kennel and ran teams they trained in mid-distance races (200 and 300 miles) and Jen completed the Yukon Quest (1000 miles) with dogs they trained.
For the last ten years Jen was the Kennels Manager for Denali National Park and Preserve and Michael worked closely with the dogs during their winter training and then spent summers working with the public and local businesses in the park. Jen was responsible for breeding, raising and training the 35 traditional freight-hauling Alaskan Huskies that are used to patrol the national park in winter.
Michael and Jen wholeheartedly believe in Lilith's approach to nurturing a dog's instincts and giving them the opportunity to run free, explore and play in a pack with other dogs. They believe in building a relationship of trust and respect with each dog they work with and are so excited to be working for Buddy and helping provide your dogs with the social interaction and freedom to roam that they all crave.