Dog Musher Karen Land tells Iditarod tales in Port Clinton visit

PORT CLINTON — It may have been one of the hot and humid dog days of summer, but kids who attended a recent Ida Rupp’s Summer Library Challenge program at Music on Madison (MOM) got to hear about the cool sport of dog mushing.

Three-time Iditarod competitor Karen Land of Indianapolis visited Port Clinton on July 18 to talk about her experiences in Alaska’s most famous race.

Land dispelled a lot of misconceptions about dog mushing, including the idea that mushers run with large, furry dogs. Land was accompanied by one of her many sled dogs, a short-haired Alaskan Husky named Noggin.

“Noggin is not what people expect to see. The dogs we raise are different than people are expecting,” she said.

Alaskan Huskies are mixed-breed dogs with happy personalities

Land said Alaskan Huskies are mixed breed dogs which are bred for good health, intelligence, endurance and happy personalities. Dog mushers prefer short-haired dogs in the 40-to-60-pound range. Long hair can make the dogs too warm in the challenging sections of a race, and cold weather can be easily addressed with doggie coats, belly protectors, leggings and booties.

“I go through about 2,000 dog booties in an Iditarod,” Land said.

Sled dogs used in races like the 1,000-mile Iditarod love to run.

“Our dogs are bred to pull. We don’t have to train them to race and pull. We have to train them to rest. We have to teach them to take naps, like toddlers,” Land said. “The gasoline of the sled is the dogs’ pure joy, drive and love of running.”

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