Monica Zappa, currently of Kasilof, Alaska, has been running the Iditarod since 2014, except in 2019. This year, her team will have four rookies and 10 veteran dogs running with her. She has one talented dog named Blue Steel that has been running the Iditarod trail for the past six years and the 2020 Iditarod will be Blue Steel’s 7th race. This extraordinary dog has never been injured or dropped from a race is a great example of canine athleticism. Monica says, “[Blue Steele is] actually a big reason I’m running because I know how much he loves it, and this could be his last race.”
Blue Steel’s litter was the first that Monica and her partner Tim Osmar bred. Since the beginning, Monica recognized Blue Steel was a natural born lead dog. Her and her partner stitched up a little harness and had him running around the yard pulling cardboard boxes as a faux sled. Monica says, He was a natural! From a puppy he had a personality and attitude that stood out from his littermates. He was confident and cool, and that strong personality has stuck with him and grown over the years.
Blue Steel ran the Iditarod the first time at 2 1/2 years old, on Monica’s first Iditarod. He ran in lead for a short time, but Monica wanted to keep her experienced leaders up front for most of the race. Later she realized Blue Steel wanted to be the leader and was trying to tell her in his own way. Monica explains, when he was in the middle of the team, he would slyly chew the mainline of her gang line and did this several times throughout the race. She even ran out of supplies to fix her lines! He was signaling to her, he wanted to be at the head of the team. Monica recognized Blue Steels urge to lead and every year after that he has ran as lead.
Blue Steel is the type of dog that loves running in single lead on the trail. Monica says, he seems more focused and in tune to voice command. He has a very thick coat and there are times it gets too warm for him on the trail, when it’s about 25 degrees and above. Blue Steel doesn’t like running when it’s too warm and Monica has learned to proactively plan rests on warm days. Although, Blue Steel does signal it’s time to rest by jumping in the snowbank for a big roll around.
Monica admires Blue Steel’s love for the Iditarod race. This top dog loves posing for the camera and getting all the attention. Especially when he gets all the extra treats. There is no doubt Blue Steel has made his mark on the Iditarod Trail as a confident, fun loving dog filled with the spirit of the trail.