Iditarod Sled Dog Race

Dog mushing is all about knowing when to run and when to rest.

NOW is the time to stay put, tending to those we love while keeping safe and healthy those we’ll never even meet.

We’re all on the same trail—we must care for each other.

Since the first known case of coronavirus was announced on January 21st in Washington state, I’ve been closely watching the news to see how this all would unfold. In an attempt to make an informed decision about my travels around the country, I searched for any and all information on the coronavirus. It was an extremely frustrating process. So little could be found. Our country’s leaders were acting like nothing was happening. But it worried me.

On Sunday, March 8th as mushers were packing sleds and harnessing dogs, setting off on their 1000-mile Iditarod journeys to Nome, I began emailing this letter to schools and libraries.

Dear Teachers, Principals, and Librarians,

I am sorry to have to write this letter, but I wanted to give both schools and public libraries as much of an advance warning as possible. After much thought and consideration of all of the variables involved in a 40-day talk tour throughout the states of New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts during the ever-changing COVID-19 outbreak, I have decided it would be best to cancel my March/April 2020 trip. It took me 6 months of hard work to plan and schedule this trip. I am heartbroken about it!

In order to keep my prices as low as possible for schools and public libraries while still covering my own high travel costs (Airbnb rentals and hotels, truck maintenance, gasoline, etc.), I always need to book as many talks as possible. This means that my upcoming travel itinerary has my dogs and me visiting schools and public libraries in over 35 different towns and cities, the majority of them in New York state.

Even before New York declared a state of emergency over the COVID-19 outbreak, I was closely monitoring the news, trying to obtain as much information as possible on the ever-evolving situation. Unfortunately, the lack of information and testing makes it difficult for the public to know how extensive this outbreak truly is. To be on the safe side, I feel it is best to suspend the upcoming tour. I am sorry for any inconvenience this may cause you. The dogs and I are just as disappointed as you are! It was a difficult decision to have to make, but I feel it is the right one at the moment.

I do want to offer options for still having your talk(s) at our scheduled time(s) via SKYPE and/or rescheduling talks for Summer 2020 or Fall 2020, depending on when it is safe for travel. Please refer to these options listed below and let me know if any of them interest you. If you have other thoughts or ideas, please share them with me!

***For space reasons, I have omitted the options from this blog post. Email me at mymusher at gmail.com if you are interested.

Again, I apologize. We’re so sad to not be coming your way in the next few weeks and months but, like a musher running her dog team down the Iditarod Trail, we all must adapt to the unfamiliar terrain before us. My main concern is the health of all. Over the last 20 years, I’ve been honored to visit both small and large communities across this country to share my beloved dogs and stories of the Iditarod Trail with fans of all ages. We look forward to continuing this in the future!

Please let me know you’ve received this message. And then we can talk about your own ideas and needs.

Thank you!

Karen Land, Noggin, and Chloe

Noggin, Chloe, and I traveled to five states in 29 days, giving 25 presentations to thousands of students, library patrons, and mushing fans. We met so many wonderful people! Thank you to the schools and libraries for inviting us to your communities and to all of the enthusiastic dog lovers who attended our talks!

We’re home now, doing laundry, cleaning out our truck, and repacking for our Midwestern and East coast adventures. Interested in a SUMMER READING talk? We’re booking now for May, June, and July. For more information, email Karen at mymusher at gmail.com.

What a great time we had on our last Iditarod Public Library and School Talk Tour of 2019 and THE DECADE! Thank you to Grand County Public Library (Moab, Utah), Montrose Regional Library (Montrose, Colorado), Mesa County Libraries (two presentations at the Grand Junction, CO central branch and one at the Fruita branch), Bemis Public Library (Littleton, Colorado), Erie Middle School (Erie, Colorado), Erie Community Library, and Eaton Public Library (Eaton, Colorado).

TO CELEBRATE MY 20th YEAR OF IDITAROD DOG MUSHING TALKS, we’re planning a MEGA ROAD TRIP around the United States for 2020! There’s a good chance we’ll be IN YOUR AREA! For more information, email Karen at mymusher at gmail.com … or… mymusher at yahoo.com.

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Great Bend Public Library, Great Bend, KS. Photo by Susan Thatcher.

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Kansas Reading Roundup, Garden City, Kansas.

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Kansas Reading Roundup, Hugoton, KS.

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Basehor Community Library, Basehor, KS.

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Jefferson County Library, Windsor Branch, Barnhart, MO.

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Lemmon Public Library, Lemmon, SD.

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Jefferson County Library, Windsor Branch, Barnhart, MO.

Chloe, Noggin, and I have been on the road for almost three weeks now. So far we’ve given 16 talks in Missouri, Kansas, Wyoming, and South Dakota. Lots of driving, sharing stories, dog-petting, and laughing!

Libraries are awesome in any season, but SUMMER READING is always special! We are honored to be a part of so many exciting and creative summer reading programs. Thank you, librarians!

 

 

 

 

… ENJOYS SUMMER READING!

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Noggin enjoying a comfortable chair and a good book at the Elizabeth Strong Memorial Library in Turin, New York.

Soon, we’ll be heading WEST for talks in Missouri, Kansas, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

Next stops:

Tuesday, May 28th from 6-7 pm:  Jefferson County NW Branch, High Ridge, MO

Wednesday, May 29th from 4:30-5:30 pm:  Jefferson County Windsor Branch, Barnhart, MO

Thursday, May 30th, talks at 2 pm and 7 pm:  Basehor Library, Basehor, KS

Friday, May 31st at 5:30 pm:  Great Bend Public Library, Great Bend, KS

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This morning Noggin had a difficult time staying awake during our Skype session with students at Meeteetse Branch Library in Wyoming. I imagine the poor dog thinks I’m just sitting on the floor (in front of the computer) talking to myself! She sees no reason to participate in such nonsense.

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When I’m Skyping, Chloe always looks concerned for me…

Little do the pups know how much fun I have talking with the students. Their awesome questions make the hour fly by!

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…to a public library near you!

We’ve left the Atlantic and are back on solid ground in upstate New York. Come talk dogs with us at the following locations:

Tuesday, April 16th at 6:30 pm—Skaneateles Library, Skaneateles, NY

Wednesday, April 17th at 6 pm—Elizabeth Strong Memorial Library, Turin, NY

Thursday, April 18th at 6:30 pm—William B. Ogden Free Library, Walton, NY

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What a welcoming community! Noggin and I had a great time talking trail with the folks of Hanover, MA. We especially enjoyed the questions from the very young man who seems destined to become a medical doctor (human or animal). What happens if a dog is pregnant on the Iditarod? What if a dog gets a virus? His parents looked a little bewildered by his seemingly out-of-the-blue questions but, actually, I was thrilled to discuss some of the details of mushing.

When you’re running a big string, the dogs on the team become very close… sometimes too close (wink, wink). Mushers wouldn’t knowingly run a pregnant dog on the race but every now and then it happens without a musher realizing and then… surprise! I’ve never had a dog give birth on the trail but my main leader, Pig, was famous for running the Race to the Sky in Montana and then giving birth to an unexpected litter just weeks after finishing the 350-mile race. This was before I knew her, but that story fits with her tough-dog demeanor. She was 40-pounds of all-business.

My main leaders: Pig on the right, Lolo on the left

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Also, it’s not uncommon for mushers to spay and neuter their dogs. A great portion of my kennel was “fixed” which made this, of course, a none-issue.

Viruses can sneak up on a team out on the trail. When you’re bringing together hundreds of dogs (some years, over a thousand) from all over the world, they can carry different bugs and make each other sick (think hundreds of human kids crammed together in a school building). We vaccinate and worm our dogs for everything possible, but lots of animals in a small area can still equal some sick dogs later on down the trail. Sometimes, a stomach bug running through a team can cause a musher to decide to pull a team from the race (scratch). But more often, if a musher just sits back at a checkpoint, hydrating, feeding, and resting the team for however long it takes, the dogs bounce back. Alaskan huskies are incredible athletes. They never cease to amaze those who love them and work with them.

Thanks to the young doctor for the fun conversation and to all of the other kids who thrilled me with their great questions and knowledge (the girl who said bison could be a problem on the trail… yes!). I felt like I was at a checkpoint on the Iditarod, talking sled dogs with my musher friends. Hanover has some mushers-in-the-making!