Tucked away on Granite Creek Road, off the grid from the hustle and bustle of everyday Jackson life, eight-time Iditarod veteran Frank Teasley tends to his troupe of 187 dogs.
“I started out living out here in a wall tent with seven dogs in 1981,” he recalls. Now, his operation has grown to be one of the premier sled dog
adventure companies in the Lower 48. Jackson Hole Iditarod Sled Dog Tours takes visitors on a variety of unique excursions exploring the pristine winter wonderland near Granite Hot Springs, Cliff Creek, or the Gros Ventre area on trips led by Teasley’s trusty dogs and expert mushers.
Teasley runs his business with a deep-seated passion for the traditional method of local transportation that played a key role in the early days of Jackson Hole and other frigid regions like Alaska.
“My goal is to share with the world a traditional activity and make it a professional activity,” he explains. “Your vacation is my job.”
But the 110-day season is just part of the job for Teasley. Each day, he and his small but passionate team care for and train the Alaskan husky mixed breeds, or “genetically engineered mutts,” as he likes to call them. He laughs as he points out a few of his beloved pups: Machine, Tulum, Tikal… the list goes on and on.
“I have some boneheads and some real sweethearts,” he says. “Sometimes it is like running an enormous nursery school. But I always keep in mind this is their world, not ours.”
He beams as he talks about Shadow, his 12-year-old head dog that led Teasley across Alaska. “The dogs take such pride in their work,” he explains.
During the winter, Teasley brings in a group of mushers who are each in charge of their own team of 20 dogs. Teasley will not hire anyone over the phone. To be a part of the team, he makes sure to meet each prospect in person.
“It’s hard work, and it takes commitment,” he says.
The guides receive extensive training, and then move on to work with their dogs in hopes of becoming the practiced dog-and-musher teams visitors encounter.
“This is not a job to me; this is a lifestyle,” Teasley says. “Nothing is more important to me than my dogs.”
In the past, Teasley has actively competed in the famed Iditarod sled dog race across 1,000 miles of rough and frozen Alaskan terrain. Now, he helps support race musher Alex Crittenden on a variety of sled dog races across the country and helps put on the Pedigree Stage Stop Sled Dog Race during its start in Jackson. Since 1996, the race has taken mushers across four states beginning in Jackson and ending in Evanston, Wyoming. In 2018, the race will be held from January 26 through February 3.
Teasley has a long list of accolades in the dog sled world, but the award he is most proud of speaks volumes. In 1989, Teasley received
the coveted Leonhard Seppala Award for Humanitarian Treatment of Dogs during the Iditarod.
“That is by far the greatest award I could ever receive,” he says. His dedication to his dogs is apparent with every story he shares.