Disappeared Iditarod dog found
A dog that went missing months ago during this year’s Iditarod race has been found.
Leon the Alaskan husky disappeared three months ago when he managed to escape at the race’s Ruby checkpoint. According to a recent CBC article, the race director and marshal Mark Nordman says the pup was relatively healthy when he was discovered.
“For sure he was thin when, you know, when he was finally caught. But he looks great,” Mark told CBC.
“It’s an amazing thing. I mean, it just shows you what the Alaskan husky can do, and survive with.”
The Iditarod consists of nearly 1,609 kilometres and it began March 6 near Anchorage. Mushers travel through Alaska’s unpredictable wilderness and terrain including two mountain ranges, the Yukon River and the Bering Sea.
The Ruby checkpoint is located nearly 800 kilometres from the starting line where Leon took off after slipping out of his collar.
Leon’s owner Sebastien Dos Santos Borges from France was forced to continue with the rest of his dogs. He says Leon’s escape was likely due to his human error.
“I just don’t think the collar was put on tight enough,” Mark said.
Once it was announced that Leon was missing. Everyone in Ruby stepped up to help including a helicopter search and numerous on-foot attempts by people trying to locate the pooch.
“There was a lot of emotions at the beginning. It was hard for people to understand how this could happen,” Mark recalled.
“It went on and on. And we’d hear, you know, maybe this was the dog, maybe it was wolf tracks — back and forth.”
As the weeks went on and winter turned into spring, Leon was still out there.
It’s believed that the brave dog had ran back up the racing trail where he was able to find dog food.
Something amazing happened in late May when a homesteader living 195 kilometres south of Ruby near McGrath told Mark that a dog had been spotted numerous times near his cabin.
People in the area knew about Leon’s disappearance so the homesteader along with another musher in the area managed to catch Leon by leaving out food for him.
Mark was thrilled when he heard the good news.
“I don’t know if you’d say it’s a miracle or not, but it just shows how people work together and how tough these sled dogs can be,” he said.
Leon and Sebastien have been reunited and will soon return to France.
“Everybody’s saying, if only Leon could talk because I’m sure he’d have a good story to tell!”
The winner of this year’s race was Brent Sass who crossed the finish line in Nome on March 15.