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Archive for Thursday, April 26, 2007

Iditarod musher, lead dog impress Quail Run students

April 26, 2007

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Quail Run School students, including fourth-grader Abby Cohen, right, lean in to pet Cheddar, an Alaskan husky, who competed in this year's Iditarod dog sled race last month in Alaska with his owner, Clint Warnke. Warnke and Cheddar visited the school Wednesday for a presentation on his competition in the race.

Quail Run School students, including fourth-grader Abby Cohen, right, lean in to pet Cheddar, an Alaskan husky, who competed in this year's Iditarod dog sled race last month in Alaska with his owner, Clint Warnke. Warnke and Cheddar visited the school Wednesday for a presentation on his competition in the race.

Iditarod competitor Clint Warnke talks about some of the gear he wears in the race as sixth-grade teacher Nancy Dietze, left, tries on the attire for a demonstration.

Iditarod competitor Clint Warnke talks about some of the gear he wears in the race as sixth-grade teacher Nancy Dietze, left, tries on the attire for a demonstration.

Iditarod racer visits local elementary school

Alaska dog-sled races are not too common in Lawrence, but today a different story as a professional Iditarod racer visits a local elementary school. Enlarge video

Last month Clint Warnke and his dog, Cheddar, were on an adventure at the top of the world: the 2007 Iditarod dog sled race.

They faced temperatures of minus 60 and winds of 40 to 70 mph. They operated on two to four hours of sleep a day. They marveled at the beauty of the Yukon River by day and the Northern Lights by night.

"This year was a really, really tough year," Warnke told a group of Lawrence students Wednesday. "The snow conditions weren't the greatest. The trail was rough. And 10 percent of the fields were wiped out in the first three checkpoints."

But after a grueling race that lasted more than 10 days and took them more than 1,150 miles from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska, they were among the 58 competitors who finished what is known as the Last Great Race on Earth.

"Snow, rocks, ice, grass, dirt - you name it, we went over it," said the 36-year-old "musher," the term used for the humans in the race.

Warnke brought his own story, some of his gear and many photos to show Wednesday morning to about 100 students at Quail Run School.

And he introduced Cheddar, his 3-year-old Alaskan husky, who led his team of dogs.

"The older he gets, the better he gets," Warnke said.

As many of the youngsters petted Cheddar, Warnke explained how the 16 dogs he used were positioned along a "gang line," with Cheddar at the front.

"Cheddar is the steering wheel," he said. Cheddar turns right when Warnke calls out "Gee" and turns left when given the command "Haw."

He showed students the coats the dogs wear and the booties for their feet.

Warnke also dressed up Nancy Dietze, a sixth-grade teacher, in the heavy boots, inner liner, outer shell and face protection he wore during the Iditarod.

"It's not heavy," Dietz said, holding her arms out wide underneath all the clothing.

Warnke, who is from Two Rivers, Alaska, showed students slides that included a map of the race, photos of his other dogs and some of the sights along the way.

He explained that the race is done each year, in part, to commemorate a 674-mile run done in 1925 by sled dogs to bring medicine to fight a diphtheria epidemic in Nome.

Warnke, who finished in 34th place, plans to run it again for a fifth time in 2008. He ran his first race in 2001, the same year he started working with Dr. Sonny Kind and the Veterinary Educational Team.

VET, a nonprofit organization based in South Carolina, teaches children about northern breed sled dogs and the Iditarod. Warnke was in Lawrence as part of a visit to several Kansas City-area schools.

"It was really cool learning about all the different rules and how they race," said Luke Lesslie, 12, a sixth-grader. Luke said he had read Jack London's "White Fang" and has seen the Disney movie "Snow Dogs."

"I never knew about Alaskan dog races, like the Iditarod," said Kelly Leatherman, also a sixth-grader. Kelly said Cheddar was "very cute." She said she had thought sled dogs would look more like wolves.

Emily Sadosky, another sixth-grader, said Cheddar "was very sweet. I didn't really ever think about dog racing until now."

Fletcher Koch, also a sixth-grader, seemed inspired by Warnke's adventure - and said he might like to someday enter the race himself.

"I think it would be fun," Fletcher said. "If I ever have a chance to do it, I might take it."

Comments

Good2go 6 years, 11 months ago

You can't use a Chihuahua on the Iditarod, its a short track dog.

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Staci Dark Simpson 6 years, 11 months ago

I don't think Iditarod dogs are abused any more than anyone elses. There are lots of dogs owned around here that get abused. It just depends on the owner. Now if you take a chihuahua on the Iditarod.....

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Good2go 6 years, 11 months ago

So, Mr. Ramirez you have meet a musher before and have talk to them and you know its all about the glory. Because I meet many of them, and they didn't give me that air. The only lame thing it your arrogance and your ignorance.

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Good2go 6 years, 11 months ago

So, Mr. Ramirez you have meet a musher before and have talk to them and you know its all about the glory. Because I meet many of them, and they didn't give me that air. The only lame thing it you arrogance and you ignorance

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Mr_Ramirez 6 years, 11 months ago

"It's interesting to see the animal rights people fighting against this, yet happily injecting their dogs for extremely painful chemotherapy."

??

One is a race - the other is trying to save a dogs life

The 'Ikilldadog' is lame.
The "mushers" care about the glory of winning the race, thats it....

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soothing_dragoon 6 years, 11 months ago

Oh, Marion, the cruelty of locking up a puppy for almost TWO years in a 4X4 cage for the edification of the mentally ill owner so her criminal case can be heard on a summary calendar of the Kansas Court of Appeals. Hmmm, there is cruely to animals, then there is cruelty to animals. How can you spout off about this subject, yet support the other? Rather hypocritical, don't you think?

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Good2go 6 years, 11 months ago

Yes, research and education is the key to knowledge. However, unsubstantiated article and snippets of "undercover footage" off internet do not truly fall under the category of actual research. It helps not to have a agenda before you go into crucifixion mode.

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Mauidreaming 6 years, 11 months ago

It's not a matter of "I don't like it so I'm not going to go". When something is harmful to someone else, then it is our duty to get involved and see that the abuse stops.

Believe it or not, sometimes you have to dive a little deeper into issues to find the real truth. Do all Iditarod mushers beat their dogs? No. Do some take care of them? Yes. BUT, overall, many mushers do not treat their dogs very well, and until that changes, this sport will continue to lose huge sponsors as well as the public's support.

Dig a little deeper on this sport and you'll be amazed what you find. Many people who are in industries that exploit animals will tell you they love their animals and take care of them. But entirely too much undercover footage tells a very different story.

Research and education is key!

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GSWtotheheart 6 years, 11 months ago

hey, if you don't like it, don't go to AK and do it

Marion-I agree with you most of the time but not on this

thanks for expressing your opinion though

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Confrontation 6 years, 11 months ago

It's interesting to see the animal rights people fighting against this, yet happily injecting their dogs for extremely painful chemotherapy.

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TheHeartlessBureaucrat 6 years, 11 months ago

Once again we are presented with the cruel reality that even THIS story has more than one perspective. THB

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Good2go 6 years, 11 months ago

Being a person who saw the finish of the Iditarod this year, the dogs were happy, the were people happy. What more do you want.

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Marion Lynn 6 years, 11 months ago

The cruelty of the Iditarod:

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/comment/saraceno/2001-03-05-saraceno.htm

Ex-Iditarod Racer GUILTY of ANIMAL CRUELTY!:

http://www.all-creatures.org/adow/cam-dog-20050407.html

Iditarod Racer Disqualifed For BEATING HIS DOGS!:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17696087/

Some TRUTH About The Iditarod!:

http://www.helpsleddogs.org/

"Culling" Of Iditarod Dogs:

http://www.helpsleddogs.org/remarks-abuseinkennels.htm#fur

The Iditarod is NOTHING more than organised ANIMAL CRUELTY and SHAME ON QUAIL RUN for assisting these abusive people in furthering their "sport"!

Thanks.

Marion.

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Good2go 6 years, 11 months ago

Thank you, mammaEffotx2 As in every sport occasionally, you will find a dad apple, it happens. If caught mistreating you dogs During the Iditarod, you are disqualified and the dogs are taken away. Professional's personnel, Vets and judges heavily monitor this sport. Unlike the people who make propaganda videos. It is a great sport for the people of Northern Alaska.

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acg 6 years, 11 months ago

My mom used to breed and raise huskies and she sold a pup to a racer who flew down here to buy one several years back. Those guys love their dogs, generally more than their spouses. The animals are treated like royalty. There's no cruelty there. Racing is in their blood and they love to do it. He showed us footage of his dogs and they get so excited when they get hooked up to their rigs and get ready to go. You can see it in their faces, they can't wait to run that race. Sorry Maui but you really are dreaming.

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Christine Pennewell Davis 6 years, 11 months ago

are you kidding me? These dogs are feed bedded down and checked by vets at every stop before the human with them and if you are a racer you know your life is in those dogs hand and treat them like gold because they are.

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Mauidreaming 6 years, 11 months ago

This is sad that the school would bring in this man. The Iditarod is one of the cruelest "sports" out there involving animals. Several of the dogs die each year in this race. It's a shame they are trying to teach these students that the Iditarod is a good thing, when it is anything but. Many large corporations have pulled their sponsorship of this sport due to the inherent cruelty. What a shame . . .

Hey, maybe they'll allow HSUS to come in and show a video of the dark side of this sport to really educate these children on what the Iditarod is all about -- money and cruelty. Doubtful though . . . all they'll get to see is the supposed "happy" side of this sport.

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