Christenson Award

The Christenson Award was established by Drs. Norm and Diane Pomerance in memory of Chris Christenson, husband to Betty Christenson, who started rescuing in North Texas and then broadened her scope. All the while Chris was at her side.  He was the quiet presence, walking dogs, fixing coffee when there was a meeting, providing the calm in the storm that was Betty. Chris died of a heart attack while he and Betty were exercising dogs. Betty said, "He never let go of the leash."

Previous Christenson Award Winners:

2015 Christenson Award Winners

Danya Sterner - WAMAL Rescue

Danya and LokiDanya and LokiThe best thing about Danya is she never lets the WAMAL dogs down! She has been a longtime volunteer walker, and always shows up to take the kenneled dogs walking, no matter the weather. She does intros with new families, emails updates and praise to the other volunteers and the board members. Danya’s drive to the kennel involves an hour or more commute each direction in our Seattle traffic, and she shows up several times a week.
Even though Danya is very dedicated to WAMAL and the dogs, she is not one to blow her own horn or to expect anyone to thank her for her work. In fact she is downright humble when it comes to praise or commendation, even though she is better equipped than most volunteers to handle any Malamute in her care.

Danya is the kind of charity volunteer everyone dreams of finding for their organization. She is well liked by all, gets along with everyone she works with, and never does anything that isn’t in the best interest of the malamutes in WAMAL’s care. Danya gives her all for the Malamutes and has been a very bright light in their transition from shelter or former owner to a new and happy life.

Stephanie Konz - Taysia Blue Rescue

Steph Konz and ChaseSteph and ChaseWithout fail, Steph has had a regular rotation of foster dogs in her home for the last four years. Her loyalty to Taysia Blue and our mission has never wavered.

She has been a critical partner in the growth of Taysia Blue. She has been an integral part of our strategic planning initiatives and has taken on a leadership role on several action teams including training of fosters, adoption counselors and other key volunteers. She is constantly thinking of ways to be more efficient and more productive. She is willing to write policy, challenge the status-quo, find foster homes when we think there are no more, and scoop poop. Bottom line, she will do whatever is needed in order to support our mission. And she does with a smile and positive attitude internally and externally.

Steph even scheduled her husband's kidney transplant surgery around Taysia Blue's annual fund raising event so she would be sure to give 100% to the rescue during this critical time and then give 100% to her husband at his critical time.

Thank you for the consideration. Stephanie is certainly deserving of this award and this would be a wonderful way to recognize her efforts and dedication.

Lois McKennett - CHAAMP Malamute Rescue

Lois with Ace the GSD and Shanook the MalLois with Ace the GSD and Shanook the Mal“Yes! I can do that!” This is always the reply from Lois when asked to help with the CHAAMP Malamutes. In fact, we don’t have to ask – she volunteers.
Help transport? Sure, I can do that. Help with fundraisers? Yes, I can do that. Foster a special needs dog? Sure, I can do that.

Lois has an endless amount of energy and enthusiasm that the Mals benefit from. She organizes and participates in countless fundraisers throughout the year. While working a full time job, and raising a young son, Lois is constantly brainstorming new, and productive, ideas for the CHAAMP Mals. She has fostered an ailing senior for us, providing Whisper with the love and attention she requires.

CHAAMP is very fortunate, and proud, to have Lois be a part of our rescue team. She never hesitates taking on any challenge or difficult task and completes them with a smile.

2014 Christenson Award Winners

The Alaska Malamute Assistance League is proud to announce the recipients of the 2014 Christenson Award! The aim of The Christenson Award is to recognize those people who are always there, working and volunteering beyond the call of duty, yet are seldom in the limelight. Congratulations to all the recipients!

Liz Markham Caron - Texas Volunteers for AMAL

LizLiz Markham CaronSavannah Savannah1Savannahwas a perky active senior when her owner dumped her in a high kill shelter. Liz Markham Caron, herself recently widowed, agreed to provide a temporary foster home for her. And then Savannah was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Temporary respite became a full time commitment and Liz stepped right up to provide hospice care. She agonized with Savannah through multiple surgeries. She researched holistic remedies and supplements and cooked special meals for Savannah, who became known as the Queen - this in addition to managing a veterinary medication and treatment schedule at a vet clinic that required a Texas length car ride to access. Liz gave this old girl, who was 10 at intake, 7 years of quality life. She held Savannah in her arms as she went to Rainbow Bridge. The Queen never doubted that she was loved during that long seven years. You could see that in the love each felt for the other that last sad time.

Holly Justice - Moonsong Malamute Rescue

HollypupsHolly Justice with some furry friends. Special needs girl Mesha is hiding her head and in the hand made snow suit.Holly has been involved with malamute rescue for many years. She was a tireless volunteer for the IAMRA affiliate when living in Illinois. Then after moving to Utah she became involved with Moonsong, and has served as a volunteer, board of director, generous donor, and foster home. Holly opened her home and her heart to a very special needs girl, Mesha. Mesha required double amputation of her hind legs due to illness, but that has not deterred Holly from giving Mesha a loving and caring home. Even with 2 young children and 3 other dogs to care for, Holly has continued to help Mesha with finding and fitting various carts to help with her mobility. It has been 2 years since Holly took Mesha into foster care. Dealing with a dog that will never be potty trained because of her medical condition can’t be easy, but not once has Holly complained. She has assisted us with so many things in addition to her care of Mesha, we can’t begin to thank her enough.


Andrea Allen - Moonsong Malamute Rescue

AndreapupsAndrea Allen with some furry friends.Andrea has been involved with the Alaskan Malamute breed for many years, and is the owner of Powerpaw Alaskan Malamutes Kennel in Utah. She has devoted her life to proper breeding of these gorgeous dogs. When the puppy mill bust of Mike Chilinski happened, we found out what strong stuff Andrea is made of. She immediately offered to help with foster care of many of the Aluk dogs, helped transport, and assisted us with information about lineage and disposition. She ended up fostering 6 of the Aluk dogs and not long after the dust settled from the Chilinski fiasco, Andrea continued to foster 7 more dogs for us. She even adopted one of the Aluk dogs. She continues to work tirelessly with Arctic Breeds Rescue in UT as a board member and active foster home. Many dogs were saved because Andrea would open her doors. We truly have lost count of how many dogs she has assisted over the last 2 years.


Jan Mitchell-Jasa - Taysia Blue Rescue

JanMITCHELLJan Mitchell-JasaJan is an unsung hero of Taysia Blue Rescue. She can be counted on at a moment's notice to jump in her car and drive for hours to save a dog from a regional shelter. She doesn't like the 'spotlight', she prefers to fly under the radar, but with 80% of all the dogs in our care coming from a radius of 3 hours or more away from Omaha, she is critical to Taysia Blue. Because of Jan's dedication to these dogs, we don't have to expend the time and energy to piece together transports so we can focus on other needs.

Last year she personally drove and donated over 4700 miles, this year she has logged just shy of 3000.

She fosters the dogs that are difficult, the ones that no one else seems to want, she works with them tirelessly with the patience of a saint; she isn't in a rush to get them placed, but happy to make sure they are in the right home. She has devoted her life to her dogs, especially her Malamute Holly who passed away unexpectedly and Suka,her new rescued Malamute who brings her joy and laughter every day.

Jan is always there to give breed specific advice to new adopters and new volunteers, but most importantly, she is ready to jump in her car and save a life. I could text her now and she would answer with "when and where, I'm ready to go now".

2013 Christenson Award Winners

The Alaska Malamute Assistance League is proud to announce the recipients of the 2013 Christenson Award! The aim of The Christenson Award is to recognize those people who are always there, working and volunteering beyond the call of duty, yet are seldom in the limelight. Congratulations to all the recipients!

Cindy Klettke - Washington Alaskan Malamute Adoption League (WAMAL)

CindyKlettkeCindy KlettkeCindy Klettke has been a Washington Alaskan Malamute Adoption League (WAMAL) volunteer since the beginning of time. WAMAL time that is: she was an original board member in the late 90's and retired from the board about six years ago to spend more time biking, hiking, and snowshoeing. Cindy has always had two malamutes of her own, and has at times had two or three foster dog in her 1000 square foot home in the Seattle area. I recently asked Cindy how many dogs she has fostered for WAMAL . She stopped counting at 40! For years Cindy has been our go-to volunteer for injured, terminally ill, and very shy dogs needing special attention. Using her special way especially with shy and scaredy dogs, she has been able to change them to adoptable dogs every time. Her prescription for doing this is hike, hike, hike with a group of malamute and husky friends, and using a unique combo of wearing them out while socializing them in a comfortable setting.

Cindy is the “Foster Mama” referred to in the recent book titled, Kuruk: The Little Bear That Could which details her work with one of the mal mixes brought down after the large Matanuska- Susitna seizure. She is also the current foster mom for Strider, an extremely shy first-release Aluk mal. Strider escaped from a former foster in November of 2012 while on his way to Cindy's house. She spent the next month searching for him, staying calm and giving advice to the neighborhood he adopted. Eventually friends and volunteers helped her trap him. She spent every moment at home for months with Strider literally leashed to her waist so he had to socialize. We are all pretty sure Strider will stay with Cindy.

Tammie Variano - Illinois Alaskan Malamute Rescue Association (IAMRA)

wookieTammie Variano’s "Wookie"IAMRA is very blessed to have Tammie Variano as a volunteer. She works tirelessly in all aspects of our rescue, from fostering special needs and sanctuary dogs, to fundraising for our adoptable dogs, and everything in between. She has done countless transports and home visits, helped bottle feed litters around the clock, and held hands and shed tears with those who have had to say good bye to their best furry friends at life's end.

Tammie had worked with us for a decade, never wavering in her dedication to helping the homeless malamutes. She is truly a jack of all trades when it comes to rescue, always willing to roll up her sleeves and help, in whatever area is needed, from handling intakes and adoptions to grooming and poop scooping. IAMRA could not save so many without her help – she is the one in a million volunteer that never lets go of the leash.

2012 Christenson Award Winners

The Alaska Malamute Assistance League is proud to announce the recipients of the 2012 Christenson Award! The aim of The Christenson Award is to recognize those people who are always there, working and volunteering beyond the call of duty, yet are seldom in the limelight. Congratulations to all the recipients!

Louise Sturm, Linda Owen and Jeanette Prevel

LouiseLindaLouise Sturm and Linda Owen walk a couple Aluk Malamutes in Helena, MT.

Louise Sturm, Linda Owen and Jeanette Prevel have been faithfully walking, grooming and biking the Aluk Malamutes at Mal Village since March of this year. We first met them when we made a visit to Helena and were still evaluating the dogs there. With their added help we were able to assess over 60 dogs in a couple days! That weekend, we also experimented with taking a few dogs out for a short walk. That experience of taking those dogs out and having them enjoy the freedom out side their kennels must have struck a nerve and ever since then these ladies have been spending any weekend free they have to volunteer with exercising and grooming as many dogs as possible at Mal Village.

These wonderful ladies were volunteers a little over 10 years ago with a huge Collie puppy mill bust in Northern Montana. They and others would drive from Helena north to “Camp Collie”, as often as possible, to work with the dogs - grooming, exercising and just giving them some much needed love and attention. Louise still has a rescue Collie from that seizure, Linda has quite the menagerie of dogs at her place, and Jeanette has Mals she shows and competes in agility events.

JeanetteSonja1Jeanette Prevel bikes an Aluk Malamute in Helena, MT.

Even with dogs of their own to care for, Linda, Louise and Jeanette are truly dedicated to helping the Aluk Malamutes enjoy their long stay at Mal Village while everyone waits for the legal process to crawl along slowly. They have been wonderful about keeping in touch with us about all their experiences each weekend and asking for advice and giving suggestions. We all have learned a lot in this process and those three have been especially gracious and always willing to try some of our ideas. And have we ever noticed a wonderful change in the dogs when we would go to visit each time! With the Mals getting more and more exercise, they seemed calmer, some of the shyer dogs seemed more comfortable with people and their dedication was rubbing off on the other caretakers who also started taking time out of their busy schedules to get the dogs out for a walk or brushing.

It’s always fun to be around these three when we visit the dogs - they are always willing to try walking new dogs or help us out with whatever is the biggest need at the time. They also were super organized about keeping cards on how the dogs were progressing each time they would take them out which is an invaluable addition to the assessments we have made. They started naming all the female dogs and that got the caretakers interested in naming the males. Louise has also been really helpful updating our huge master spreadsheet on all the dogs - adding their names and all the updates they have made since walking them on the weekends.

We don’t know what we would do without these three marvelous dog lovers! They have contributed immensely to helping with the Aluk Malamutes and will continue to do so while there are dogs still there and need the exercise and attention. We feel they all deserve and epitomize this important award.


2011 Christenson Award Winners

The Alaska Malamute Assistance League is proud to announce the recipients of the 2011 Christenson Award! The aim of The Christenson Award is to recognize those people who are always there, working and volunteering beyond the call of duty, yet are seldom in the limelight. Congratulations to all the recipients!

Colleen Belanger- Golden Years Alaskan Malamute Rescue

cheeko 2Colleen Belanger, 2011 Christenson Award recipient, with her furry friend, Cheeko. Photo by Dave BelangerColleen has been working with Golden Years for about 9 years and has helped with breed ID, transport, fostering and training. Golden Years has been able to help more dogs thanks to her help even though she lives on the other side of Michigan from them. Colleen also assists Closer to Home Animal Advocates (CTHAA) and Illinois Alaskan Malamute Rescue (IAMRA).


Brian Brunner - WAMAL

MALMOBILE 007Brian Brunner with his furry friend, Rosemary, and his "MalMobile". Photo by Barb Brunner

Brian Brunner has been volunteering with WAMAL for about 9 years and has been a Mal owner nearly all his life. Brian coordinates and leads most of the cross-state transport efforts for WAMAL, which has earned him the nickname, MalMobile Man. He seems to always be able to magically pull a transport together in an emergency, saving many dogs that would have been euthanized otherwise. He has clocked around 5000 miles on his MalMobile in 2011 alone, transporting dogs to their new homes.


2010 Christenson Award Winners

The Alaska Malamute Assistance League is proud to announce the recipients of the 2010 Christenson Award! The aim of The Christenson Award is to recognize those people who are always there, working and volunteering beyond the call of duty, yet are seldom in the limelight. Congratulations to all the recipients!

Kris Janowsky

KrisJanowskyKris Janowsky with a couple furry friends


Katy Flanagan, Niki Tischhauser, Liz Copp and Freddie Qualls - Moonsong Malamute Rescue

KtNikiAcceptAwardFromLynneKaty Flanagan and Niki Tischhauser, with Moonsong Malamute Rescue in Idaho, accept the Christenson Award from Lynne Anderson.

This award was also for Liz Copp and Freddie Qualls, Moonsong volunteers who couldn’t be present. The award was in appreciation for their participation in the “extraordinary rescue on skis of the Eight Above Malamutes from a Montana mountainside.”


Lynne and Dan Anderson - Outstanding Service Award - AMCA

Lynne and Dan Anderson were bestowed with the Outstanding Service Award from AMCA for all the work they do to help bring all the Mal people together to help dogs in need!



Previous Christenson Award Winners

Help us fill in the gaps!  Email AMAL with names of previous Christenson Award winners.  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

AMAL Information


The Alaskan Malamute Assistance League (AMAL) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and charitable organization supported by the national breed club, the Alaskan Malamute Club of America. We are an all-volunteer national rescue network which includes state and local breed rescue groups, as well as individual members.

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