As all you readers know, owner and curly haired left me again to go roam the wild wild world. This time they flew off to Anchorage, Alaska. Why, you ask? Well it is The Iditarod, the last great race on earth. Of course, you are aware that my “big guys” know little more than that a bunch of dogs are tied to a sled and they run through the Alaskan wilderness for over one thousand miles….yes one thousand, all the way to Nome.
They didn’t buy tickets to the big banquet. They weren’t sure they’d arrive in time. The Musher’s Banquet is a huge affair with about two thousand people in attendance. The previous winner, Lance Mackey was there and everyone was in awe. Owner and curly haired showed up at the banquet to ask if there were any spare tickets left and the woman at the door must have liked what she saw (curly haired that is) because she said, “here take these and have fun.” Suddenly we were inside. Suddenly we were sitting at the Exxon Table honouring Lance Mackey…how the hell did that happen. NO, Lance wasn’t sitting with them but hey…..the table was honouring a really famous guy. Cool. The real point of the dinner besides being a venue for old mushers to get together with other old mushers, is to draw the number of your “starting postion” in The Last Big Race on Earth.
My people are weenies so they didn’t make it to the end of the banquet. Apparently they were tired after being up nearly 20 hours and having had three plane rides and a time change all in one day. Really……they are with people who are going to drive sleds for ten, eleven, fifteen days in a row on little food and even less sleep through snow, and wind, and blizzards, and even a ten mile stretch with no SNOW ….and they complain about being tired. Pathetic when you think about it, isn’t it?
Today is actually the big day and then tomorrow is the other big day. How can this be? Well the big ceremonial start is apparently an hour from now. There will be a lot of hoopla in downtown Anchorage, which reminds owner of North Bay, Ontario. The sleds will take off at two minute intervals. If necessary they will cart in some snow to cover the streets to make it all work out well. Luckily it snowed a bit last night, not much, but every centimetre helps right. I mean, hey….seventy-one teams, over a thousand dogs…this is not a minute amount of essential snow we are talking about. Tomorrow thousands of people will head to Willow, about seventy miles from here, to see the second official start of the race. After that the mushers will zoom along on their own, looking after their dogs, feeding them, putting them in their little coats to help keep them warm when necessary, and slipping booties on their paws. Keep in mind this will be the paws of up to sixteen dogs (times four of course) to protect them from roots, rocks, and anything that could give them little nicks and scrapes on their most valuable asset. This is not a race of the weary or the weak.
It isn’t so much the event that is the point of travelling, it is the learning more about the event and the people you meet while there. Yesterday was spent with owner and curly haired attending two different talks about The Iditarod. Of course they weren’t particularly publicised events so it was only by good fortune that they found out about them.
Dr. Stu Nelson, head vet, for the Iditarod and vet volunteer for nine years prior to receiving an actual paid position (as well as running his own practice), gave a great overview of the race. He spent a lot of time explaining how the race is all about the dogs (as well it should be…finally we get some respect) and the tremendous amount of care and concern that every dog is in healthy shape and enjoying him/herself on the run. I know we are only dogs but I try to be politically correct since that is the society we live in now. You can call me, Casey, an IT and it doesn’t bother me a bit but hey…..him/herself is a small concession to make for the rest of you out there.
He was great and owner enjoyed his chat but what she enjoyed most was meeting a special volunteer called Robin. She is from Brisbane, Australia. Of course my owners are partial to Australians as evidenced by the Aussie’s working with curly-haired in Texas. Anyway, back to Robin. She sold her house and worldly possessions to live a life of adventure. Why The Iditarod you ask? Well, a) her beloved dog died and she felt at loose ends and needed to soothe her soul so she thought….well, I need dogs. (she didn’t say this but we think we get the gist….well, she did say about the losing her dog and feeling sad.) b) She had attended a dog race in Canmore, Alberta fourteen years ago and told herself that some day she would go to The Iditarod. Well not only did she manage to get here this year she has already been volunteering for two months. She participated in the straw drop which was an amazing feat of planning. She has done a bit of everything and loved every second of it – as evidenced by her incredible smile. We don’t have people hopping on ships to discover new worlds any more but I have the feeling that if we did Robin would have hopped on one, no questions asked, just to see what was out there. Owner likes these women a lot! (SHE IS NOT ONE but she likes them a lot!)
Sorry guys, no more news. Owner has cut off the computer chat with me. She says she has to run to the big start of the race. She’ll fill me in more with later on. See ya later.