Saturday, March 16, 2013

iditarod 2013....Dorado

it's not over until all the dogs come home and there is now one dog that won't be coming home.  paige drobny, bib 14, dropped her dog dorado at the unalakleet checkpoint on monday, it was found friday morning  buried in a mound of blowing snow.  the final result of the necropsy was asphyxiation.  it's always sad news to me when a dog passes in this race. it hasn't happened since 2009, though dogs have died in other races in alaska and this year in the yukon quest.
i love the race and i do believe those dogs are bred and born to run.  still, it always pulls at me when a dog dies.  it's hard to justify a love for a sport when faced with a dog death. i for one, still want the race to continue.
this dog died while waiting transport back to anchorage.  the weather was  bad and the dogs were no doubt checked on and fed and cared for.  one does hope that lessons are learned and changes made to help prevent this in the future.  dogs in alaska often live outside in wind and snow, but the kennels also have little boxes that the dogs can use as dens to protect themselves while tetherered outside. from what i've seen this isn't the case in the checkpoints while a dog waits.  they are tethered and have a bunch of hay to curl up in.  i've never heard of a death from this in the iditarod. it's generally a complication of the stress of the run...most often ulcers or aspiration pneumonia.  the fact is the weather here is unpredicatable.  in life no one can predict every scenario.
that doesn't mean you just write it off.  i do appreciate the fact that the iditarod people have been fairly transparent about this in their ananouncements.  they said the dogs were checked on at 0300 and in the morning this dog was found buried.  i'm sure all involved at that checkpoint were devastated and it must have been a horrible thing to have to tell drobny.
many changes have been made and will continue to be made to try and assure that this event ( a dog death) is a rarity rather than any sort of regular itidarod event.  nobody wants to see dogs die in this race.  the people who run it and volunteer for it love dogs.
maybe they will now have to think of things like making sure there is a responsible human awake and with those dropped dogs as protection.  maybe they will have to board the dogs inside in a safer location while they wait for flights out.  i'm sure there will be much discussion by the iditarod folks and the mushers that run in this race.
there are many out there who don't approve of sled dog racing.  this gives them fodder to continue their fight against dog racing.  a dogs death can't be justified, it is what it is.  very sad news for all involved.  those who battle against dog racing serve their purpose, i'm sure the pressure helps to encourage the changes that make it safer.  you still have to preserve the spirit of the race.  dogs have been used in northern climates for years and are still used in many places.  our lives as humans are bound to our canine companions.  the race brings to light all that the dogs are capable of.  it also brings to us all that the human spirit is capable of.  if something was easy it wouldn't be worth doing.  there has to be adventure and those who venture in our culture. it brings us hope and makes us all strive to be more.
only 4 teams remain on the trail, everyone else has arrived in nome.  the russian came in today as did the pet shop owner from brasil.  marques from brasil and berkowitz  both came in with 15 dogs.  that means they each only had one dog dropped.  chulpach will be the red lantern winner and the widows lamp will be turned off for another year. abbott was probably encouraged to drop out after she sat at eagle island for a long stretch of time.  the trail team went out to check on her as her gps hadn't moved for nearly 24 hours.  she scratched.
there is potential for disaster, there were a few plane crashes, humans died, it could just as easily be a plane full of dogs one day.  life is a risk.  i'm sure i put my dogs lives at risk every day.  we could be trampled by a moose, and almost have been.  we could get in a car wreck.  blossom could fall through the ice, and has. a bear could attack us. the dogs could get frostbite, and rio has gotten early stages. i say this because we all are at risk every day.  it's still better in my mind to be out there doing and living.  i'd hate to leave my pets at home each day in their protected yard.
a sled dog wants to run.  it's far more cruel to own a sled dog and live in an apartment and never walk it than to have a sled dog run.  zoo animals live longer in captivity, but i'd rather see them out in the wild.  it's not an excuse, it's just random facts to me.  those dogs are born to run and love to run and i admit i love to watch them run.  i love to hear the tales of the trials of being out on the trail dependant on a team of dogs to get you home.  it's a reminder of those who have lived before us and successfully survived the elements with the aid of dogs.  we live so cozy with all our modern conveniences and it's good to be reminded that nature is still the ruler of us all.  when one battles against nature, it is often nature that wins. this has always been true and always will be.  the majesty of alaska as seen from the runners behind a pack of dogs is both beautiful and magical and challenging.  my heart goes out to dorado and the humans who were no doubt touched by this dog, may he run in peace to the bridge.

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