Alaska: Martin Buser and the Iditarod

This was one of the excursions I enjoyed the most during our visit to Alaska. It was unfortunate that the weather didn’t cooperate, but even the rain couldn’t dampen the experience. Martin Buser owns and manages Happy Trails Kennels – which is impressive in and of itself. Even more impressive is winning 4 of the 30 Iditarod races in which he has raced. The Iditarod race honors the 1925 delivery of diptheria serum from Nenana to Nome, a 674 mile run completed in 5 days that saved hundreds of lives. . Balto is the story of the lead dog in the last leg of the race. He is immortalized with a statue raised in Central Park in 1926 – 10 months after the serum delivery. Today’s race is over 1000 miles and in 2002 Martin set a record of completing the race in 9 days

Martin has over 100 VERY happy dogs. And he LOVES his dogs. He regularly speaks on the humanitarian care of animals and the teamwork that goes into running a race like the Iditarod. He considers his dogs world-class distance runners, and when you meet them you appreciate how very much they love to run. As he begins the demonstration with the dogs, attaching them to the sled, an audible yelp goes up from the yard that feels like the dogs are saying “pick me”. They love it.

And lastly, Marin has won the humanitarian award from the Iditarod 4 times recognizing the care and attention he gives his dogs during the race. It was fascinating listening to him regale his stories of the race and his partnership with the other athletes on his team… his dogs. Arguably, after listening to him, he thinks of himself as a dog. When asked how he picks the lead dog, his answer was, “I am the lead dog”… not in a boastful or egocentric way, but with the pride of being a part of a great team.

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