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Mike Stone & Alisa Syar | Silver Ice Alaskan Malamutes

Mike Stone and Alisa Sylar


Interview With Mike Stone & Alisa Syar, Breeders of Silver Ice Alaskan Malamutes, by Allan Reznik

Where did each of you grow up?

Mike grew up in San Francisco/Novato; Alisa in the Napa Valley.


Do you come from doggie families? And if not, how did the interest in breeding and showing purebred dogs begin?

Mike: Yes, my mother, Roberta Stone, raised Toy and Miniature Poodles under the Stonewood prefix. I started in Junior Showmanship at age 13. I went on to work for a professional handler at age 16. When I was 17, I went to work for professional handlers Marvin and Jeri Cates, and remained with them for 13 years. At that time, I held an AKC all-breed assistant’s license. This was back in the days when handlers had to be licensed to show individual breeds. During the 13 years I was with Mr. and Mrs. Cates, I had the great opportunity of working with a lot of different breeds, and expanding my knowledge of handling, grooming, and the health and welfare of animal care. It was a huge opportunity to work with some of their clients.

Alisa: I came from an equestrian family. My mother rode Hunters/Jumpers and my grandparents bred Palomino Parade horses and racehorses, so naturally, I was riding ponies before I could walk. Then I continued to show Hunters/Jumpers and Dressage horses. We always had dogs: Jack Russells, Australian Shepherds, and German Shepherd Dogs. My grandparents had Chesapeake Bay Retrievers. I bought my first Alaskan Malamute from a breeder I met at the Golden Gate Kennel Club benched show, who provided a show contract with the puppy. Thus, I went forward with showing dogs, and have loved every minute of it.

Mike Stone & Alisa Sylar
Alisa Syar

Who were your mentors in the sport? Please elaborate on their significance.

Mike: My mentors included Ray and Jeanette McGinnis, Tony and Judy Musladin (The Whims Beagles), Barbara and Patrick Baymiller, Byron and Carol Wisner (Beartooth Bassets), Kenny Neal, Nancy Evans, Gary Zayak, and Isabelle Stoffers and Christy Nelson of Runners Whippets. These people have been a great inspiration in my life, both as far as handling and also breeding knowledge.

Alisa: My mentors in breeding Alaskan Malamutes were Kimberly Meredith of Atanik Alaskan Malamutes, and Tex and Patty Ann Peel of Sno Klassic Alaskan Malamutes. I bought my first Alaskan Malamute, “Greyson,” BIS SBIS CH Atanik SilverIce LoveEM N LeaveEM ROM from Kim. She taught me the significance of animal care; feeding, grooming, travel, showing, and what to select for breeding. Kim and I traveled to several dog shows over the years together. Later in my show career, Tex and Patty Peel sent Mike and me a lovely Alaskan Malamute, MBIS MSBIS CH SnoKlassic In Your Face Barkley ROM. This boy was very important to the future of our current breeding program. Kim, Tex, and Patty Ann taught us the importance of breeding for excellence.


The Silver Ice Alaskan Malamutes are widely known, highly successful, and well respected. What breeding philosophies do you adhere to?

We breed Alaskan Malamutes that meet the Breed Standard, emphasizing form, function, soundness, and breed type. Line breeding is very important in our program.

Mike Stone & Alisa Sylar
Mike Stone

How many dogs do you typically house? Tell us about your current facilities and how the dogs are maintained.

Our Alaskan Malamute breeding program is maintained with 18 animals and a large semen bank. We are set up like a small horse farm, with acres of large, grassy paddocks, play paddock areas, a kennel building, grooming room, and feeding preparation room. The kennel building also has a crating room and indoor/outdoor runs.

How did you transition into professional handling? How are you able to balance your breeding program with professional handling obligations?

Mike has been able to manage his clients, and help with the Silver Ice breeding program. We schedule shows accordingly so that we meet our clients’ expectations. Mike has been handling professionally since 1976—47 years.


What is the key to maintaining a positive, successful relationship with your clients?

Mike: The best policy is honesty. I give clients my best when presenting their dogs. I also advise clients on how to breed to improve on their pedigrees, so I have the best representatives of their bloodlines to present.


Please comment positively on the present condition of your breed, and what trends might bear watching.

The Alaskan Malamute temperament has improved over the years. We are seeing nice pigment and dark eyes. We need to be mindful of proportions and size, the lack of bone, and the lack of snowshoe feet. The Alaskan Malamute must have heavy bone, with sound legs, good feet, a deep chest, powerful shoulders, and all of the other physical attributes necessary for the efficient performance of his job.


The sport has changed greatly since you first began as breeder-exhibitors. What are your thoughts on the current state of the fancy and the declining number of breeders? How do we encourage newcomers to join us and remain in the sport?

Mike: Yes! The sport has changed over the years. I feel newcomers do not put the time into the sport that is needed. Many exhibitors seem to need instant gratification nowadays. I call it “show and blow” syndrome. They could not tell you who won Best of Breed that day, instead of staying at the show, learning their breed, and maybe figuring out what their dog isn’t or what it is. Exhibitors could benefit from discussing their dog with other breeders.

In the old days, people would approach professional handlers and seek their advice. Remember that handlers are busy during the day and sometimes can’t take time out of their show schedule to offer assistance, but you can try to make arrangements to talk with them at a more convenient time. They can give you advice on how to breed your dog, or suggest knowledgeable people you should speak with, in hopes of breeding a more competitive dog. In some breeds, it takes a lot of time and energy to properly groom and condition dogs. One thing I tell people is that a first impression is always important. I had a judge tell me one time that they can usually pick their winners as a class enters the ring, based on that first impression.

Alisa: Mentorship, mentorship, mentorship.

Mike Stone & Alisa Sylar
Mike Stone

Where do you see your breeding program in the next decade or two?

We will continue breeding and campaigning quality Alaskan Malamutes that represent the Breed Standard. We are always hopeful we will produce the next great one for the breed.