Teams are coming into Nome like crazy now! The mushers share about their amazing dogs that continued to lead the team and work together. Dan Kaduce is the only musher to have his entire team still with him in Nome, all 14 dogs!
Why do some teams come in with fewer dogs? What happens to the other dogs? There are many steps in place to make sure the dogs are well cared for. First, the mushers know their dogs very well and can tell if one might have a stomach virus or a sore leg. Sometimes they will let the dog ride in the sled for awhile. The mushers each carry a vet booklet where the veterinarians at checkpoints jot down info about the dogs so that the next vet can see what was done. The cool thing about these vet booklets is that they are made with waterproof paper! That is good for wet, snowy conditions on the Iditarod!
If a musher or a veterinarian feel a dog needs more rest, the musher will leave him or her with the dog care volunteers at a checkpoint. On the next available flight, the dog will be transported back to Anchorage where it will be checked out and then allowed to go home with a handler the musher designated, kind of like a babysitter. Some of us dogs are very disappointed to not be able to continue the race, as are mushers having to leave them behind. However, the well-being of sled dogs is of utmost importance!
In Nome, the dogs run up under the burled arch finish line after running down the streets of the town. The musher pushes the snow hook into the snow and walks up to give the dogs a snack and some petting to congratulate them! Before leaving, the musher has to show that he or she has all the required gear in the sled; they may then mush off to the dog lot. In Nome’s dog lot, there are lots of dog houses for the dogs. Volunteers and vets feed them and watch over them while mushers go get a hot shower and rest!
Mushers have said that many dogs are ready to run again even after running 1049 miles! They look up at the humans as if to say, “Where are we running today?”
Thanks for cheering on the humans and us dogs during this race!
Until next time,