Loyalty on the Iditarod Trail

Dear Friends,

Sled dogs are amazing animals!  They are loyal and work as a team.  Loyal means being committed to a team or a person, always willing to do what it takes to help and support.  Veteran musher Jeff King took over Nic Petit’s team at the last minute when Nic couldn’t go.  Jeff says it has taken the dogs awhile to get to know him and think he’s OK, but now they do.  These dogs truly run as a team, working together.  

Jeff has run sled dogs for many years and said he’d never seen anything like he saw last week.  One dog’s gait didn’t look right.  A gait is the way you walk or run.  Jeff unhooked the dog from the tagline leaving the neckline attached.  Later, he noticed the neckline had unhooked and was dangling. The dog just stayed in his place, running loose with the team for 20 miles, including snack stops!  Talk about loyal. 

A loyal lead dog awaits instructions

He also told a story of another loyal lead dog, Salem, in 2006.  It was night and the snow was blowing and swirling. Jeff had been pedaling with his one foot to help push the sled when his foot went down in a pothole, making him fall off.  The team disappeared into the blowing snow without him!  He called Salem’s name.  It is terrifying to be left behind as sled dogs typically keep running until they reach a checkpoint. Jeff got up and ran in the direction the team went.  After a little while, he could see the back of his sled with the dogs still facing away from him except for Salem.  He was sitting, facing backwards watching for Jeff, straight as a statue.  He had heard Jeff call and stopped the rest of the dogs.

Sled dogs are loyal to each other and their humans!

Until next time,