About WinterStar Farm and WinterStarz Alaskan Malamutes

Located on the North Fork of the Crow River in the beautiful rolling hills of rural Cokato, Minnesota, WinterStar Farm is an oasis of peace and beauty as well as a great place to raise and train sled dogs! 

     Winter sunrise over the barn    House in Winter    Frosty morning coming into WinterStar Farm

Our Farm 

WinterStar Farm is owned by veterinarians Tim O’Brien and Karina Burger. Tim and Karina purchased the farm in 1999, and soon built a home and shed including our dog kennels and play yards. Repairs to several existing outbuildings and clean-up of the property have been undertaken as well, with the help and hard work of lots of our family and friends! The natural beauty of the hills, woods, wetlands, pastures and river needed no improvements, and we are very happy to live in this fun and lovely place.

       Team on the Crow River, 2009     Cute Kittens!     Battle and Fred trotting in from the pasture

Our Animals

WinterStar Farm is home to the sled dog team of WinterStarz Alaskan Malamutes, as well as a horse and a bunch of horse and dog-savvy cats!  For more photos, see the Dog Starz and Photo Gallery pages.

Tim trains and conditions the dogs on the hilly gravel roads around the farm with our cart in the fall and spring, and also on the Luce Line trail which is about 20 miles south of the farm. In the winter, Tim gets the team out with the sled 4-5 times a week, sledding mainly over our fields and onto the Crow River.   Karina enjoys cross-country skiing and often accompanies the team on skis, or skijors with an older dog or two that are retired from the team. This is helpful when training new dogs and also when the team is tired – the dogs are very motivated to catch up if Karina is in front of them! 

Once a year, usually in January, WinterStar Farm hosts the CrowDitarod - a scenic dogsledding excursion on the Crow River.  Mushers come from across the country to enjoy a long weekend of scenic sledding, skijoring, and an exciting weight pull.  See photos of this event in the slideshows below.

        Cart run to train puppies, September 2009        The team on the Crow River

Our Philosophy

We want to enjoy life with excellent dogs in our family to make our journey richer. When we breed our dogs, it has been with the intention of keeping dogs for our home and our team, so we generally have had a litter only every 2-4 years. Temperament is crucial to us when we decide to breed for a litter. Structural soundness, athleticism, a good work ethic and train-ability are more traits we aim to achieve in our litters, since we show our dogs in the breed/conformation ring and use them for sledding, packing, weight pulling, agility, rally and obedience. As veterinarians, we want to raise happy healthy dogs that excel both as working dogs and as family pets. For more detailed information on our dogs and our philosophy, please visit the Frequently Asked Questions Page.

  Tim and Howler, 2009  Tim the Dog Whisperer, convincing puppy Daisy to stand for a photo  Tim with Howler and Minnie, overlooking Lake Superior, 2009

About Tim

Tim O’Brien is a veterinary pathologist, and works at the University of Minnesota. He enjoys training our dogs, especially for dogsledding, rally and obedience. He also shows many of our dogs in conformation. Tim’s other hobbies include bird-watching, bicycling, reading, and drinking good wines.  Tim planted a vineyard of Marquette cold-hardy wine grapes here on WinterStar Farm in 2012, and is enjoying this new hobby!

       Tim, Major and Pegs hauling firewood    Tim waiting ringside with Sassy at Agility class    Tim and the team coming home thru the pasture, 2009     An artistic photo of Tim with the team!

  Karina and Tim pose with Aurie's litter, 2009  Karina teaching Penny the tunnel  Karina, Howler and Minnie enjoying the waves on the shore of Lake Superior, 2009

About Karina

Karina Burger is a large animal veterinarian, and works for the US Department of Agriculture. She enjoys working on our many farm projects, gardening, cross country skiing, and gourmet cooking.  She  actively volunteers in the malamute world, including currently serving as Co-Editor of the Minnesota Malamute Club Newsletter, and for six years as Performance Committee Member for the Alaskan Malamute Club of America (AMCA).  As past Newsletter Articles Coordinator for the AMCA, Karina's efforts helped the AMCA Newsletter to be awarded the Maxwell Medallion in 2012, a national recognition of excellence bestowed by the Dog Writer's Association of America.  See the AMCA website newsletter articles pages to read many informative articles on malamutes which were produced by Karina.  As the past AMCA Membership Chair, Karina led a dedicated team of volunteers to revamp the club's membership application procedures, which resulted in substantial growth of the club and support for the breed. 

Karina trains our Malamutes in agility, rally and obedience, and shows them in conformation, rally and agility classes.  She also designed and maintains this website, and has learned these skills the hard way!

For more details, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions Page.

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