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Dog goes missing on Iditarod Trail

Race officials yesterday vowed to continue the search for a dog missing in the Iditarod.

Nancy Yoshida, 58, of North Dakota, who was entered in her first Iditarod sled dog race, was forced to drop out of the 1,100-mile race around midday Tuesday after her sled lost its runners. In the process, one of her dogs got loose and is lost in the winter wilderness, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports.

After becoming stalled amid sharp switchbacks and losing both runners on her sled, one of the dogs on Yoshida’s team became separated from the team of 16 and ran off, race spokesman Chas St. George said today.

Searchers in the area, which is within the first quarter of the course, had been looking for the dog since daybreak, St. George said. Yoshida, who “spent a long time looking for her dog” on Tuesday, remains at the nearby Rainy Pass checkpoint.

“We’ve had great success” finding lost dogs in the past, St. George said. While the searchers “would never put their lives in jeopardy … we’re going to continue to search until we find this dog.”

Meanwhile, a necropsy on a dog that died in the race found no obvious cause of death, according to Iditarod race marshall Mark Nordman. Further tests were planned, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

The 6-year-old male, named Victor, was in the team of Jeff Holt from North Pole. When the dog faltered, Holt tried to revive him, then carried him in the sled to the Rohn checkpoint, where veterinarians pronounced the dog dead.


Comment from Eighteenpaws
Time March 11, 2009 at 7:38 pm

Geez!! I hesitated at the first “I” blog and now I am infuriated by the second. I know that it can be an unpopular and controversial position, but who in their right mind still supports in any method, active or inactive, the Iditarod? I was delighted to read about this year’s great decline in participants and advertisers and supporters. I am hoping that it is more CONSCIENCE than the current economic strife. Racing dogs to their near or actual death — please don’t tell me that “they love it” — is akin to greyhound racing and perhaps worse. Let animals be animals, as natural as possible. They do not exist for our cruelly-tainted thrills. The spectre of Michael Vick can be everywhere.

Comment from Anne-n-Spencer
Time March 12, 2009 at 6:44 pm

I’ve done a complete re-think on the whole race, and I’ve decided to advocate “back to the roots.” If they want to commemorate the original race to get the vaccine to Nome, then let them do it the way those original people and teams did it. The first 600 or so miles were covered by train. Where the railroad line stopped, the dog teams took over. Their route was carefully planned, and no team ran more than about 90 miles, with 50 or 60 being closer to the norm. The objective was far too important to risk running the dogs to death or to risk injuring them. I’m convinced that the dogs really do enjoy being out running and pulling, and any team of healthy dogs could put 60-90 miles behind them and still enjoy a good dinner. That innate enjoyment is being done to death with these modern races.

And of course the other question is what happens to the dogs that don’t make the cut. There are rumblings, and they’re getting a bit louder, such as this one in USA Today a couple of weeks ago:

I suspect they could tap a whole new community of dog-loving tourists with deep pockets who would genuinely enjoy seeing something a lot more authentic and a whole lot less cruel.