This Q & A will all be answered by Mrs. OVD. We got home from the Mushers' Banquet at 11:00 P.M., and we have to get up at 6:30 A.M., so Emmaline is in bed. I, on the other hand, am foolishly doing all of this work at 1:00 A.M.! Hope you appreciate it! ; )
Q: What is your favorite memory that you will savor for the rest of your life?
A: I'm pretty sure Emmaline will always treasure meeting each and every musher tonight and getting their autographs (me too)!
Q: How did you get to see the dogs of the Iditarod?
A: I am attending the Iditarod Teachers Conference. One of the parts of the conference was to go on a field trip to four-time Iditarod Champion Martin Buser's kennel. Not only did I get to go, but I was able to take Emmaline and her dad along as well. Another way that we saw the dogs was by going to the vet check. Anybody can go to that.
Q: Do sled dogs have to be huskies or Malamutes?
A: Most sled dogs are Alaskan huskies. These are not pure bred--the are a mix of all types of dogs that have traits that are good for running in snow. Some of the traits are warmer coats, strong feet, healthy joints, and the ability to run. Sled dogs are not bred for their looks, so that is why most of them don't look like the dogs of Snow Dogs. Those dogs are pure-bred Siberian huskies. Sibes have very thick coats, and while a few mushers do run teams of Sibes, they run much more slowly that Alaskan huskies. Malamutes are quite large dogs and were used throughout history for pulling mail and supply sleds throughout Alaska. They are not used for racing.
Q: Are the dogs uncomfortable in their dog boxes on the back of the dog trucks?
A: NO! These boxes may look small to you, but they are basically the size of a kennel that you might put your dog in for a trip. They go pretty far back into the dog box, and they have straw for a comfortable bed. So there is no need to feel bad for the dogs--they're nice and comfy!
Q: How many people can enter the race?
A: There is no limit to the number of mushers who can enter the race. This year there are 67, and that is pretty average.
Q: How many dogs do you have to have?
A: Iditarod mushers start with 16 dogs. Throughout the race, they can drop dogs at checkpoints. Dropping a dog means leaving it at a checkpoint where it is then flown to either Anchorage or Nome to be taken care of until the musher gets to Nome. Dogs are dropped if they are sore or tired or just don't feel like running any more. Just like people get sore playing sports, dogs do too. Fortunately, there are vets at every checkpoint to help the musher check out their dogs. I want to assure you that the dog care is the most important thing to everybody in this race. The dogs love to run, and the mushers love their dogs so very much! Mushers must finish the race with at least 5 dogs.
Q: Were the moose cows or bulls?
A: Some of each
Q: One student thought Lance Mackey looked old, but that was OK because he just tells the dogs what to do.
A: First of all, mushers don't only tell the dogs what to do. They must be in excellent shape themselves because they run up hills, kick and pole to help move the sled, and move and bend with the sled to get it to stay upright. Being a musher is VERY physical. Also, Lance has been through a lot. He had throat cancer several years ago and underwent major surgery as well as chemo and radiation. He still suffers pain from the radiation, which is a big problem while in the cold. Also, he doesn't have his salivary glands (which make spit) any more, so he must constantly drink water in order to swallow or eat. Despite the terrible shape his body is in, he went on to win the Yukon Quest (1,000 mile race) four years in a row and the Iditarod four years in a row. Two of those years, he won both races in the same year, just weeks apart. So, yes, Lance may look a little rough and older (even though he's not much older than me), but he has overcome so much by perseverance and hard work. He is my hero!
Q: How far is Alaska from Wisconsin?
A: About 3,500 miles
Q: Do you have to have an even amount of dogs on a team?
A: Generally, mushers start with an even number, but as the race goes on, they can drop them, and dogs can run without a partner. Dogs also get moved around on a team as needed.
Q: Is it true that most huskies have bright blue eyes?
A: Siberian huskies tend to have blue eyes or a mix of colors. Some Alaskan huskies can have blue eyes if they inherit the gene for them, but most that I have seen don't.
Q: How many hours did it take to get to Alaska?