Lhotse, the Athlete

Paws Along the Trail with Lhotse, the  Mom Dog Athlete 

Shaynee and Heidi at Iditarod Headquarters, June 2017

Shaynee Traska was all smiles and the first rookie musher to sign up for the 2018 Iditarod at Iditarod Headquarters in June. She and her husband, Jeremy, have been building their kennel of sled dogs and training toward their dream of running the Iditarod Trail. Talking with her at the musher sign-ups/volunteer picnic was a treat. She was very friendly and down-to-earth as  we discovered our common Michigan roots.   

Later, when I wrote and asked her for any dog stories she might have, she responded, “There are always dog stories.” I’m sure. Mushers spend hours and, well, entire days with their dogs, becoming in tune with their dogs’ quirks, personalities, and behaviors. If something is amiss, the musher notices right away. (Reminds me of teachers knowing their students, even without data…but I digress).  Here Shaynee tells a story about an up-and-coming sled dog named Lhotse.

LHOTSE is a pretty special girl! She was born in our kennel during the summer of 2015. Lhotse’s first run as a sled dog in the spring of 2016 was beautiful, but the next several runs after that, she looked awful…not interested in running at all! Jeremy and I were going to the glacier that summer and were only able to bring a limited number of our dogs, so we had to find friends to care for a few that couldn’t go with us. Lhotse, because of her lack of interest in running, was chosen to stay behind for the summer. She lived with another musher friend of ours here in Two Rivers while we worked in Juneau.

In the fall, on our way back home for the winter, we found out that Lhotse (at just over a year old) had a litter of pups…no one knew she was pregnant! But who could be upset about having pups waiting at home?! Lhotse turned out to be the best mom, even after the pups were weaned. When she could, she would still run over to the pen where they lived and check on them. The rest of the team began fall training in early September while Lhotse cared for her babies.

Shaynee, Lhotse, and one of the pups [photo credit Shaynee Traska]

She joined the team in training in early November…and much to our surprise, looked totally awesome! Unlike her last attempts in the spring, she was a natural, hard-driving sled dog! She quickly caught up to where the main team was in training. In mid-January, she completed her first ever race…200 miles in the Two Rivers 200 with Jeremy, taking fifth place, and then went on the very next weekend to finish with me in the Northern Lights 300, taking second place! To have pups at just over a year old at the end of August, start training in November, and then finish 500 miles of racing in back-to-back weekends in January…we are totally excited about this youngster. We hope she is ready for the Iditarod this year, and could be running alongside her mother, Summit, and maybe even one of her kiddos, who are already proving to be awesome little sled dogs.

The rest of us will be keeping an eye out for Lhotse on Shaynee’s team in March!

Teachers, you can use Lhotse’s story for a lesson on cause and effect!

Other Iditarod Teacher News

Can you make it to our Virginia Iditarod Teacher Conference, October 14, 15? We would love for you to come and bring  colleagues. Come get re-energized with new teaching ideas and background knowledge to  motivate and engage your students as you incorporate Iditarod lessons into your curriculums!  Contact Iditarod EDU director, Diane Johnson, for more details:  djohnson@iditarod.com

Lower 48 Iditarod Conferences