BY: KHADIJA KHAN
From walking the runway in Milan, Paris and Shanghai to sledding with huskies in the Alaskan wilderness, this long-legged model from Wisconsin, Zoya DeNure, decided to leave the catwalk after 12 years to pursue a much simpler life of dog sledding.
It all started when the modeling and partying lifestyle became too much to handle for DeNure. She retreated to her home and bought a Siberian Husky. It was her serendipity because a few months later, she met a woman who trained sled dogs. DeNure became an apprentice while immersing herself with knowledge about dog racing and spending time working at the kennel with 75 Huskies.
Zoya DeNure left a fruitful modeling career behind to pursue her one true passion: caring for, and working with, sled dogs
After spending a year with these canine athletes, DeNure decided to build her own kennel and began sprint racing with her team of four dogs. She was laying down the prep work for what she was about to take on.
For a dog musher, the Iditarod Sled Dog Race is the most prestigious race, a precarious 1,131-mile journey that can be compared to the last great race on Earth. She first entered the race in 2008 and faced numerous complications but managed to cross the finish line without her sled flipping over with 16 dogs pulling her. She tested her skills in the 2010 Iditarod but because she was still breastfeeding her daughter, she developed a mastitis infection while on the trail and had to drop out of the race.
DeNure is a part-owner of Crazy Dog Kennels, which houses 50 rescued Siberian Huskies.
But this year, the former model will try once again for the epic dog race. In her quest for glory, DeNure has her work cut out for her. She’s also the co-owner of Crazy Dog Kennels, with her champion husband, John Schandelmeir, who has held the title for the Yukon Quest Champion for two years. They call it the home of 50 “happy, healthy and incredible” Huskies, of which the majority are rescue dogs.
DeNure has made a life for herself in the Alaskan wilderness, which leads me to think it’s never too late to start over and build a new life filled with passion and love.