Recall the dogs are each micro chipped and are dedicated to their one respective musher; they cannot be traded, replaced, or (to make the unthinkable obvious) left behind along the trail. Vet services are available at each checkpoint and each musher must carry a log book that serves as a relay of information to vets along the trail for the dog team. Should a dog be unable to continue for any reason, either at the discretion of the musher or the directive of a vet, the dog is turned over to race officials in a checkpoint and "dropped" from the team. A dog could be dropped for any one of a number of reasons, from a twisted wrist or sore shoulder that won't work itself out, a paw abrasion caused by rough ice or brush, or a stomach bug that's impacting appetite. Race rules also mandate that each musher's sled be capable of carrying multiple dogs over long distances of trail in the event any of our precious canine athletes have an issue between checkpoints.
What then? The mighty Iditarod Air Force flies in! "Dropped dogs" from checkpoints over the first half of the race are flown back to handlers in Anchorage and returned to their home kennels; dogs dropped along the second half are flown on ahead to Nome, where they'll await their teammates in a cozy dog lot at the finish.
Seeing Double is so lucky to have friend and dog handler Aaron staying over at our kennel, looking after the dogs not out the Iditarod trail with us, and picking up any dogs that are flown back to Achorage. He's kindly agreed to be this year's Dropped Dog Correspondent, so we'll get updates as any team dogs head back to the kennel.
Hopefully that answers a lot of preliminary and common questions and get's everyone ready for the good stuff. Let's meet Kristy and Anna's ultra marathon canine athletes!
First, accompanying Kristy on her 10th run to Nome are: Wallace, Lewis, Raven, Jack, Bulliet, Mayhem, Berzerker, Bootleg, Henry, Bogus, Cloud, Rizo, Sweetums, and Rebal. There are 9 males and 5 females ranging in age from a yearling to 7 years old. With an average age working out to about 3.4 years old and veteran Iditarod dogs far outweighing rookie pups at 12 to 3, there's a lot of canine experience on the trail with Kristy! Of the 14, nine are Seeing Double Dogs and 5 are on loan from fellow mushers.
Click on the first gallery to read more about each of Kristy's amazing dogs.
Click through the gallery to learn more about these handsome devils!