Hundreds of locals accepted the Seavey family’s generous invitation to experience their Ididaride Wilderness Dog Sled Ride and Tour on Saturday and Sunday. After gathering and dividing into groups of 8, Conway Seavey, personable grandson of Dan and a formidable racer, gave us a brief review of the history of the Last Great Race. Then it was off the dog yard.
It was amazing to see the large, neatly kept yard with up to 100 dogs, each waiting quietly beside a white barrel doghouse. When the carts and harnesses came out, they erupted in howls of eager anticipation, hoping to be selected to pull the carts full of happy Sewardites. Only 15 lucky dogs were chosen for each team, but by the end of the busy day all would get to run. The curving trail wound through the woods, past trail markers depicting the villages along the race route, and swift Box Creek. At the halfway mark, the dogs took a short rest to cool down, panting but happy.
All too soon, we were back at the yard. We thanked the deserving dogs and handlers and went on to a very interesting demonstration of the Iditarod musher’s sled (made with modified hockey sticks!), and gear. Three local kids fit into the musher’s giant winter parka, so necessary to keep warm on those bitterly cold, windy runs.
The 2-week old puppies, their eyes still closed, and the month old litter were a big hit. The visitors help to socialize them, and the handlers make sure the puppies get used to having their feet, ears, and even their mouths touched and desensitized for future vet checks and for wearing booties and body warmers. It’s all about racing!
Back at the gift shop, folks received a souvenir photo taken during the dog cart ride and a photo of the 2013 Iditarod Champion Mitch Seavey with his dogs Tanner and Taurus.
Many thanks to the wonderful Seavey family and staff who provided this fascinating glimpse into the Iditarod that is such a special and defining part of their lives.
Submitted by Carol Griswold