A post mostly by Dan
…with additions by Jodi
Like, for instance the Intro by Jodi-
Each year Iditarod mushers get piles of mail (and today email) from students. They come from all over, schools where teachers are using the Iditarod to get students excited about learning. The letters are full of reports on what is going on in classrooms; books being read, math projects, online research, presentations, often if we are lucky the letter will include examples of what kids are working on or original artwork. Each year, after sponsors thank you’s are sent the very next thing that needs to be tackled are the student letters. This year after answering them all Dan took the time to type up the answers to this years “Most Asked” questions to share with y’all. Now if y’all know Dan you know he is a man of few words… So he gave me the OK to add some comments, photos, and links for the blog.
Now without further ado,
and as few rambling comments as I can manage,
Dan’s answers to Students Questions
What are your lead dogs names? Orchid and Bug were the main leaders for Iditarod this year. But Ribdon and his sister Sparrow are both command leaders. Gremlin, Thistle, and ChaseUm are also race leaders. It is good to have more than one leader in your team. And the better all your dogs understand what you expect of them the smoother your trip will be. Each summer we work with the dogs on commands and leader training. Small teams are hooked up to the quad for short runs. We work with the dogs on taking commands in a little trail system and an open field near our cabin. This keeps leaders sharp and the team dogs tuned up; and this is also when we find and work with potential leaders to teach them the commands. Everyone gets to take turns, and the dogs really enjoy it.
What do you look for in a leader? You want a happy dog that will go ahead without looking back at you for support. One who will listen to commands; as well as be smart enough to make decisions on their own sometimes. Different dogs have different personalities. For example, year Bug & Orchid were really driven and too fast for the Gorge. So I changed to Ribdon & Thistle, with the hope they would be calmer in the difficult no snow area.
Do you have a favorite dog? What ever one I’m looking at. No really I love them all, and we work together as a team.
Do you like the cold? Cold seems normal after 20 years. Plus I have great gear for keeping warm in extreme temperatures. The dogs are much better adapted for the cold, so they are less bothered by it then us humans are. But even then, we carry coats for the dogs that they camp in, and can wear running when it is extra cold or windy.
How many booties do you use? About 2000 per year on average for Iditarod. After the race we will wash the booties and check them for holes and wear. The ones that are still good we can use the to train with next winter.
**Mush thanks to Meg Thornton and her Bootie Makers and our favorite Paw Partner Connie Lykins for the amazing booties!!**
Why do you run the Iditarod? When you run Iditarod you get to see the best mushers and dogs in the sport; and run with them.
What do your dogs eat on the trail? mostly cat
***EEEK*** Jodi here and you all know Dan is kidding!!!! See the next question
AND here is info on what our dogs eat on the trail:
- This years blog about Drop Bags detailed what Dan sent out on the trail.
- Additional information about how we feed in the trail and a dogs diet can be found in this post.
Do you like cats too? Do you have any other/house pets? Yes and Yes. I do like cats and we have a black cat at home named Chopper. She lives in the house with Whiskey (our min pin) and Guppy (retired race dog) and they all share the house and get along well.
What is your favorite place/checkpoint on the trail? Takotna has endless good food and hot water for the dog food. I took my 24 there to take advantage of the hospitality and because the dogs get a good rest there.
Iditarod is on my bucket list, what is on your bucket list? I want to run the ONAC and Fur Rondy someday. After doing distance for so long I think it would be interesting to train up a team and see what it feels like to go super-fast behind a world class sprint team.
- ONAC – Open North America Championship. One of the oldest and most prestigious sprint races, held in Fairbanks each March. You can read more about the history and race here.
- Fur Rondy – the annual Anchorage Fur Rendezvous is a celebration of the Alaskan spirit and host a variety of events, including a world class sprint race known as the Fur Rhondy.
What’s your favorite Color?
What was your favorite subject in school? Science, I have always been interested in learning how things work.
**Jodi here – he still is!
What was your first dogs name? Mom got a puppy at the time I was born. She was a German Shepard mix named Dolly. There were baby pictures of me with the puppy.
Thanks to all the students who took the time to write to us, and all the teachers who inspire and educate them!