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On Frozen Penises and Classified Ads

The Iditarod (Idiotarod/Ihurtadog) and the Yukon Quest are over for this year, but Terry Cumming, who took the photos I posted (More Yukon Quest Photos), wrote a comment that had some new (to me) information I’d like to share.

Terry writes:

‘Anonymusher’s’ postings are great indicators of the low mentality that is so pervasive up here when it comes to ‘dog mushing mania.’ It took three dogs being killed in each of these obscene races (Idiotarod and Quest) in 2007 to wake a few people up about the various brutalities inflicted on sled dogs. Add to that the Idiotarod hero Ramy Brooks beating and humiliating his entire dog team this year.

Speaking of cowardice, the Yukon Quest, cowardly organization that it is, has always been jealous of the media attention directed toward the Idiotarod ("Hey, WE’RE the TOUGHEST sled dog race in the world!"), while the poor little Quest stood in the shadows. Well the Quest got a lot of media attention this year, unfortunately much of it happened to be of the unwelcome sort. Yukon Quest veteran musher Frank Turner was pro-active in bringing up the issue of dog culling, asking that the Quest organization require prospective Quest mushers (most of whom are from Alaska, where the Quest race was invented) to DISCLOSE THEIR DOG CULLING POLICIES, should they wish to enter the race, and that if they did cull dogs, they should not be allowed to participate. The 2007 Quest race marshal responded to Yukon media that the dog culling practices of Quest mushers were "not our [the Quest organization’s] concern." No surprise to me there – I call it the ‘Don’t ask/Don’t tell/DON’T CARE’ policy. At least NOW we have the official word.

To add to the callous attitude held towards sled dogs, after the races are over, upon looking in the local ‘Pets’ classifieds in one of the local papers, you see how many of our local male and female mushing heroes are selling dogs who have pulled their masters through a thousand miles of the Quest, and, in one example I saw, through both the Quest and Idiotarod – Thanks for pulling me a couple thousand miles in less than two months. Have a nice life. What a bunch of heroes.

I was at the start of the 2007 Quest with my friend Mike who posted on this board. We were out the night before and froze various appendages putting up race protest posters around town. I was very proud that we helped to demonstrate a bit of an alternate view about this local ‘sacred cow’ known as the Yukon Quest. About bloody time in my view. I know that a seed of doubt was planted in the minds of those whose minds are open and receptive to a dose of reality and truth. I am aware that at least one lady . . . discontinued her support of the Quest race after reading the sleddogwatchdog web site. . . . Also, the Quest is now an official ‘social pariah’ up here and one had better be very sure he or is among fellow Quest disciples, before they decide to ‘wax eloquently’ about the glories of the Quest.

About the photos, I took those photos myself and know fear in animals when I see it. Sorry if I can’t come to understand how so many seemingly intelligent . . . people get off over the idea of running a few scrawny dogs a hundred miles a day in -30 to (close to) minus 60 degree Celsius weather. And yes these dogs suffer. They get damage to their lungs. They suffer injuries to life and limb. Some dogs froze their private parts in the 2007 Quest. This information was reported by an Alaska-based reporter to our local Whitehorse CBC radio station during the race. It was news to me that those cute doggie coats ‘Anonymusher’ speaks of are actually a mixed blessing, because when the dogs urinate (these dogs do not stop for pee breaks), they do so in the belly protectors and the urine freezes, thereby freezing the dogs’ penises if it is really cold out (which it was, in 2007, especially between Dawson and Fairbanks).

No word of what happens to these dogs AFTER the race, as most of our Yukon Quest media cheerleaders don’t really care what happens to these dogs who froze their private parts, or about the other dogs who die in Yukon and Alaskan dog yards after they burn out their hearts and lungs to entertain some stupid northerners, and who give up their lives to bring glory to a few egotistical mushers who choose to attain that glory ‘on the backs of their dogs.’ Nor do our northern governments care about these dogs either, as our animal protection laws are practically non-existent, and there is no regulation or oversight of mushers’ dog yards. In the Yukon, our Territorial tourism department is actually the major race sponsor – over $200,000 Canadian in 2007! Things like that make it somewhat embarrassing for me to live here.

Thanks again Mary for the support. It really meant a lot to me and to the dogs.


P.S. – I know from looking at discussion forums such as the one on the Iditarod section of, that not all dog mushers support the Iditarod and Quest, and would agree (at least on some things about dog mushing) with people like you Mary, and with Mike and myself, that these races are cruel and exploit sled dogs.

Thanks for your time, energy, and words, Terry. And living in the epicenter of greyhound racing in the US, I certainly know what it’s like to be embarrassed by the place you live.

Please note that I’m aware that the Iditarod and Quest issues in this post and some others are largely about the cruelty of the events. However, as an animal rights advocate, my issue is with using the dogs at all. If no more dogs died or were injured during the events, I still would advocate for their abolition.

14 Comments Post a comment
  1. Anonymusher #

    Wow. What a rant!

    Now, when did I say that Ramy Brooks was a hero? I don't think I ever have. And it's rather interesting that Frank Turner, who is a MAJOR pro-mushing Yukon Quest WINNER is suddenly considered an animal hero by people who, if he had not made the comments about killing cull dogs, would probably condemn him and say he had a low mentality too. For the record, I oppose killing unwanted sled dogs. So do a number of other mushers. I think the issue SHOULD be of concern (see, I don't agree with everything the Iditarod or Quest people have ever said).

    However, as you mentioned, most cull dogs are sold rather than shot. Mushers will run a team in the Iditarod and then sell the trained dogs to other mushers who want a good veteran sled dog.

    Apparently we have differing views on what the dogs at the race start are thinking. You see fear, I see relaxed boredom.

    Now, about the coats. I was not aware that they could cause problems. Thanks for bringing that to my attention as it is certainly an issue that needs to be resolved. I've never needed the coats since I prefer to run dogs who already have a good coat (their fur).

    May 1, 2007
  2. Cláudio Godoy #


    By the way, congratulations on your last paragraph, which expresses very clearly your abolitionist views.

    May 1, 2007
  3. Mike Grieco #

    On Feb 14/07 the Whitehorse Star published a letter I wrote for the SLAVE dogs of the "Yukon Disgrace"(QUEST).
    I promised the dogs,we will be their voice,I will do my best to keep my promise for you the dogs.
    Society owes you something!
    PS if man is so Great! Then why does to need to "USE and ABUSE" another animal for Fame and Fortune?(To me this shows a GREAT WEAKNESS)!

    Bless the DOGS.

    May 2, 2007
  4. Anonymusher #

    I am not after fame, fortune or greatness. If wanting to run in the woods with my best friends (and yes, I think I like dogs better than people) makes me greatly weak then I am as weak as the next person. The dogs are so much more than I'll ever be.

    May 2, 2007
  5. Mike Grieco #

    Hello Anonymusher-I'm glad you are not after "fame and fortune"(many mushers are).Running in the woods is great,free from commands and restrictions ,dogs need to be dogs in a safe,happy,and healthy environment.
    Thank you for your good words for the dogs(your best friends)who share this world with you,they are worthy of your Respect,and I'm sure they Respect you.
    I believe in my heart that we must STOP/END the breeding of domestic animals and that we have a obligation to look after the ones that exist,they are at our Mercy!

    Take Care…all the best,

    May 2, 2007
  6. Anonymusher #

    Thank you, Mike. Although we have very different opinions on the Iditarod, and Yukon Quest, at least we can agree that we both love the dogs!

    May 3, 2007
  7. P.S. to 'Anonymusher': the 'low mentality' quote in reference to you was not called for on this or any other forum and I take personal responsibility for writing it – my apologies! It appears that the prime venue for knock 'em down, drag 'em out debate about the Iditarod especially, is on the Anchorage Daily News ( Iditarod forum (although the critics of the race are vastly outnumbered by the race supporters).

    In my original posting the line about "thanks for pulling me a couple thousand miles in less than two months" ended in "Have a nice life!" – some technical glitch? The local Whitehorse musher who place the ad about selling Iditarod and Quest veterans always has the heading "Kennel reduction" in his classified ads when he is disposing his dogs.

    One alarming thing that has not yet gotten a lot of press is that another long-distance race (408 miles) known as the "Alaska Sweepstakes" is being revived ( for a one-time only '100th anniversary race' in 2008. Here is a 'testosterone-laced' excerpt from the story:


    Sweepstakes race rules are much different than the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

    The 1,100-mile race from Anchorage to Nome allows mushers to drop injured, sick or tired dogs, requires one 24- and one 8-hour layover, and banishes outside assistance.

    But in the Sweepstakes, where mushers are allowed to harness a maximum of 12 dogs, they can receive outside assistance from a pit crew and choose when their team shall rest.

    But perhaps the most unique, and controversial, Sweepstakes rule is no dog drops. In other words, mushers have to finish with the dogs they start with.

    “I think it’s a great rule,” said Nenana musher Aaron Burmeister. “It’ll make the driver take it easy and pick only their best dogs.” Chugiak musher Jim Lanier, a veteran of the 1983 Sweepstakes and 11 Iditarods, disagrees with the rule.

    “The dogs that should be dropped, can’t be dropped,” he said. “That’s not a good thing.”

    Typically, mushers are allowed to leave injured dogs at checkpoints. Now they’ll have to pick the toughest dogs to blaze a seldom-used trail through some of Alaska’s most taxing terrain. “The Sweepstakes is the ultimate grudge race,” said Leo Rasmussen, a director on the Sweepstakes committee and former Nome mayor. “If you win this race, you are the ultimate dog musher in the world.”

    God help the dogs.


    May 6, 2007
  8. Anonymusher #

    I appreciate your apology, Terry.

    I too am concerned about the no dog drop rule in the All Alaska Sweepstakes.

    On the other hand, they have an interesting rule that says, if you abuse your team, you LOSE your team to the Nome Kennel Club. Apparently these are the same rules from the orignal All Alaska Sweepstakes in the early 1900s.

    May 7, 2007
  9. Mike Grieco #

    I bet that all these "Slave Drivers" will say that they LOVE "their" dogs.
    ABUSE starts from breeding these animals!!And it gets WORSE!!(the ABUSE)!
    WE MUST STOP THE BREEDING OF ALL domestic animals because it is the only(right) thing to do, OK? GOOD, and thank you.

    All Alaska Sweepstakes sounds like a lottery that Gambles by Using and Yes Abusing DOGS!!

    One thing I have not seen is a bunch of mushers in harness and then (on command)run,run,run…it would be interesting, wouldn't it?

    May 10, 2007
  10. Anonymusher #

    Haven't you heard of the Idiotrod and the Urban Iditarod or the Human Sled Dog Championships?

    I am sure that the mushers in the All Alaska Sweepstakes will say they love their dogs. I am also sure that most of them will be speaking the truth when they say this.

    May 10, 2007
  11. Mike Grieco #

    Hello Anonymusher,good to hear from you,hope all is well with you and the creatures you share this world with?
    No I have not heard of the "Idiotrod(is this correct spelling)you said it not I:)).I also have not heard of the Urban Iditarod or the other EVENT.Is that like the Human Circus without the USE and A…. of nonhuman animals?
    And how long have they EXISTED chained up prier to this PERFORMANCE? And was their a dog(s)giving orders and have they experienced any of the suffering that many dogs experience?
    LOVE is A WORD of many meanings I see.
    Well take care and I hope no-one LOVES any Animal to,to much,someone just might HURT-A-Rod…keep well

    May 10, 2007
  12. Anonymusher #

    Hello Mike. All is well with us but the weather is turning warmer which means shedding shedding shedding…For the dogs anyway!

    I don't know much about the Idiotrod (yes, correct spelling) and the other races but I do know they are human-powered. I like your idea though about having humans play sled dogs and live like sled dogs. If it were done right, it would be interesting…

    May 12, 2007
  13. John Suter #

    P. O. Box 670144
    Chugiak, AK 99567-0144
    (907) 688-3103

    June 3, 2007

    Dear Editor

    The Iditarod Board of Directors has given one of it’s mushers a 2 year ban for spanking his dogs multiple times. The Iditarod Board of Directors should have given their self a 2 year ban as well because they are just as guilty of the violation. The board did not take the direct action of spanking the dog team, but they set up the conditions for the event to occur. They did this by refusing to throttle the race’s speed by not putting in the badly needed equal run, equal rest recommendations. There is enormous pressure for these mushers to perform the best that they can. The results of this is in order to be competitive, mushers now run their dogs teams day and night around the clock. The mushers who give their dogs teams equal run, equal rest are behind the front of the pack. Most of them can not afford to keep racing for more than a few years. This musher did not do anything differently than all of the other top mushers, it is that this musher got caught. With equal run, equal rest, rested dogs will be able to keep running and rested mushers brains will not be stuck on stupid.


    John Suter Former 4 time Iditarod finisher.

    June 4, 2007
  14. John – a very belated thank you for being one of the very few mushers who will offer criticism of the Iditarod or Quest, North America's two long distance sled dog races, races which are 'self-regulated' by the respective organizations' race officials who sanction these 'events.' I assume that your sentence "This musher did not do anything differently than all of the other top mushers, it is that this musher got caught" refers to top mushers also inflicting corporal punishment on their dogs at the many remote points along the trail, as extra motivation to perform (no surprise to me). How terribly sad!

    UPDATE for those who care about sled dogs:

    Our organization has been conducting a poster campaign in Whitehorse, prior to the first 2008 (25th anniversary version) Yukon Quest fundraising event which will be held on Friday, October 12th at a popular coffee shop in Whitehorse. This coffee shop has been the prime Yukon-based fundraising venue since 2005 (Alaska has its own Quest fundraising events and race sponsors). On two occasions I have contacted the owner of the business in order to educate her about the cruelty inflicted on dogs who are forced to run in the race (no response of any kind received – I suppose outright ignoring is a type of response). We have noticed that posters are being ripped down or defaced by Quest supporters, nameless cowards who will not put up posters of their own in support of the Quest (with their contact info), or write a letter to the editor in opposition to the very few Yukoners (myself included) who regularly write letters attempting to educate ignorant Yukoners who either support the Quest or who are apathetic with regard to the various cruelties inflicted on these dogs.

    Please take the time to write to the owner of the business (a business that sells coffee online) who is hosting the 2008 fundraiser (three dogs were killed and many more were injured in the 2007 Quest). 'Anonymusher' and his or her friends can place an online order for some coffee from this establishment.


    Thanks for thinking about sled dogs.

    October 8, 2007

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