The Iditarod Sled Dog Race is run primarily by volunteers. I'm volunteering as a dog handler at the restart this year. Handlers help bring the dog teams up to the starting line at the ceremonial start in Anchorage on Saturday and the restart in Willow on Sunday.
I received my handler certification training Friday morning.
Two of the most important things to know:
1. Don't step on the dogs' feet!
2. If you fall down, release the line and roll out of the way.
When the dogs hear the harness, they go crazy.
Once they're hooked to the line, they go crazier.
Since they aren't able to go forward until the musher releases the brake and gives the command, they jump straight up in the air.
I stayed on my feet during training and hope all goes well at the restart. I consider it a privilege to be able to spend time with these wonderful canine athletes.