Last night while volunteering at the sales table I took a break and went out to see the dog drop area. This is my first time ever seeing the operation, and I apparently missed most of the action of the afternoon when they had about 60 dogs at one time waiting for pick ups. Several of the dogs were definitely wanting to be left alone, but most were incredibly energetic which makes you wonder why they were there in the first place.
One such dog (the one in the picture above) was one from Jeff King's team. Don't know his name but he was absolutely adorable. Totally into attention seeking. He was playful, upbeat, and having a heck of a time. I loved on him quite a bit before moving on and taking photos of other dogs, but he would have none of it. He kept mouthing me arm and when I finally walked away he played tug-o'-war with the back of my jacket! Loved my time with "greatness" (as I told the pup). How many people get to love on a Jeff King Iditarod dog?
I'm going to to into rant mode for a moment now. I've read a lot of stupid things on the internet about this race over the years. Lies about how dogs are destroyed/killed if they can't finish the race, dogs dying at the hands of volunteers, dogs being put down when they are too old to run anymore. It's simply not true. I'm sure someone somewhere is a cruel and heartless musher, but not those that run the Iditarod year in and year out, and it's certainly not the volunteers that hate these dogs. I would venture that it's "Friends of Sled Dogs" and "PETA" and the like that hate these awesome athletes. Why would you deny an animal what it was bred to do. These aren't pugs that are bred to be lap dogs, these aren't labradors that are bred for companionship and hunting, these are dogs that are bred to run as a team, to pull, to run.
The saddest looking dogs may in fact be the dogs in the dog lot that were left off of this year's Iditarod team. The dog drop dogs might be a little sad, or even feel they let their pack down, but there was also a sense of pride in most of them like they'd done their job and now it was time to rest. They are well cared for while they wait for their turn to be picked up and put on the dog truck. This isn't for show or for pulling the wool over someone's eyes. There were no 'spectators' where I was, there would be no reason to hide "evil" if we were all the cold and heartless volunteers that PETA, Friends of Animals, and Save the Sled Dogs would have you believe.
I've had the priviledge to work within the Seavey Kennel, and I've seen how those dogs are treated. They may not get to be couch potatos, but I can't see a single one of them wanting to be either. They're very well cared for, very well respected, very well loved. I've seen the mushers be devastated over the loss of a teammate, and I've seen them be overjoyed at what some would see as a minor triumph but to them it's a "king of the world" moment. It's the stupidity of these groups that hurts the sport with their hate and lies they send to sponsors and fans every year, those of us who have seen it first hand know the truth.
In race news, Dallas Seavey is back in teh top ten (in tenth) and really not a lot else has changed since yesterday. It's still King in first, Mackey second, Neff third and Mitch Seavey fourth. Hopefully we'll see some mushers pull out some tricks so that we can see some movement in the places!
10 teams have scratched, but really it's been a pretty positive race for all.