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.
‘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 ADN.com, 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.