Sharing my life's adventure with scotties brought me to the realization that this WOULD
work. I had ALWAYS considered this to be something within the realm of scottie capabilities.
After all, each time the Wild Child Gang and I have gone walking, we have always managed
to display a remarkable resemblance to Ben Hur. So, the logical conclusion was that scotties
would do QUITE well....possibly even WIN.... the famed Iditarod 1150 mile dogsled race!
It didn't take many phone calls to round up my 'team'. I soon had more scottie volunteers
than I had space for in the harnesses. It did require some special talking to the harness-maker,
to explain why I needed such long rigging, with spaces for 50 dogs. He seemed to accept my
smiling explanation that I just didn't want to leave my 'other' dogs behind, as they'd be SO
We spent weeks in preparation, practicing secretly at every opportunity. Some of the excuses
that the 'team' gave their Mams and Dads DID seem rather lame, but apparently they worked. No one
missed a practice session, which resulted in a team that worked swiftly, smoothly, and with
typical scottie determination.
The long-awaited date finally arrived. Everyone's excitement was clearly visible as we loaded
our gear aboard the ScotCorde, headed for Alaska!
Our arrival was quiet and unobtrusive, if you ignore the typical reaction to the ScotCorde's
arrival. It always seems to draw a crowd, but seeing scotties exit the plane was nothing unusual,
so the attention quickly waned. We quietly moved our gear to the hotel, and prepared ourselves
for a history-making race.
The morning of the race dawned, cold and clear in Anchorage, and with frosty breaths marking
our excitement, we headed for the starting line. Captain Scotty was there, with the sled packed,
the rigging all laid out, and everything prepared for our arrival.
The crowd was astounded as
Captain Scotty and I began hooking the dozens of wee scotties, along with several scottie
"wannabe's", into their harnesses. Putting the booties onto the team's paws proved to be our greatest
challenge, as we struggled and wrestled the protective coverings onto the wee paws of the grumbling
We ignored the jeers and taunts as our very short-legged team
stood braced and ready to begin. The scotties tensed as they heard the crowd's laughter, and I
smiled as I watched terrier after terrier turn to the crowd with the "LOOK" .... that
glare of a determined scottie.
Granted, my Super-Team was noticeably "height-challenged", and not even VISIBLE above
the larger snowbanks. But, what they gave up in height, they more than made up in attitude and
spirit. The team, determined to make the jeering crowd eat their words, strained in the traces.
Captain Scotty had his hands full, literally, as he held tightly onto Katie and Riley's
lead harnesses. The 'swing dogs', directly behind the leaders, were crowding the front, eager to
get on with the race. The excitement built within the team, making it harder and harder for the
Captain and me to control our "wee" sleddogs.
The start of the race was a blur. The starting gun sounded, and the scotties leaped forward.
The sudden start almost threw me off the runners, as I gripped the sled tightly, then began
pedaling to help increase our speed. We quickly left the noise of the crowd behind, as we
raced on, in the midst of dozens of sleds.
Other sleds, pulled by large husky breeds, raced by, but not before they got a dose of scottie
attitude. Each time the scotties heard another driver shouting "trail!" earned their anger,
along with a flashing of scottie teeth, as the faster teams moved ahead on the trail.
What followed was 17 days of incredible adventure. Days would pass when we would see no other
teams at the check-points. We seemed to be the last team on the trail. But, we were never without
There WAS the delay we had when the scotties picked up the scent of the moose.
The entire team suddenly forgot the race, turning the trip into a 2-day MOOSE tracking expedition!
We won't go into what happened when we FOUND the moose! Let's just say that moose don't especially
ENJOY being told off by 50 excited scotties! And, I, for one, was thrilled to find out that 50
racing scotties, pulling a sled DOES move faster than an enraged moose!!!
The scotties never complained, never grumbled. That legendary scottie spirit and determination
became evident, as they raced onward..... through white-outs, across frozen tundra, ignoring
the temperatures that sometimes dropped to 20 below 0!
Our secret weapon was the indomitable scottie spirit. What we lost in length of stride, we
made up in sheer grit and determination. Our 20-hour days sped by as the scotties kept up a
steady stream of talk, always describing what would happen when we caught up with the others!
The team arroooo'ed gleefully the 12th day out, as they actually heard me calling "TRAIL!"
to a team ahead, to announce that we were about to PASS them!!! I DID have to shout an apology
to the other musher as my scottie team raced past. They became rather "unsportsmanlike",
waving at the husky team, blowing raspberries, and waggling their paws in their ears as they
The journey continued to be a test of tracking skills. I had huge problems keeping the team's
attention on the course. At different points in the race, we would suddenly careen off-course,
always TRACKING! No amount of shouting or demanding helped return them to their original mission.
Our tracking victims included 4 snowshoe hares, 6 arctic foxes, 2 moose, and 1 very shocked
polar bear. The hares were only a short diversion, although one just barely managed to escape
with his fur intact! The arctic foxes provided much more entertainment,and a LOT of
work for me, as I ended up spending
an entire DAY untangling the rigging after 50 scotties became crazed with the chase!!!
as NO surprise that the scotties had NOT learned their lesson after the FIRST encounter with a
moose. Twice, they once again blazed off into obscure wilderness, chasing that elusive scent
of moose!!! Regardless of the SIZE of the quarry, our determined terriers persevered, always
FINDING their prey, always ANGERING the quarry, and ending up in a foot race to stay AHEAD
of the moose! And ALWAYS with me screaming at the top of MY lungs to speed UP, as at least
ONE moose came close to JOINING me in the sled!!
Now, about that polar bear! I won't frighten you with the specifics of the encounter, other
than to say that all terriers still have all paws, ears, and tails intact. It's the FUR that may
be missing in places. The ONLY thing I do still worry about is the fact that the polar bear has
apparently decided that we haven't yet learned our lesson. I've noticed him on 3 different
occasions, in the distance, just as we begin our days journey. I've been shocked and more
than a LITTLE concerned that he has
continued to follow us for the last 650 miles!!! I guess he DID take offense when the
scotties called him a ....and I quote..... "a fru-fru PUHDUL"!!!
The last day of the race found us all at the end of our endurance and stamina. The
scotties, although exhausted, smelled victory. They seemed to draw strength from the
crowds as they neared Nome. Where once they were jeered at and taunted for their lack of
stature, they now were cheered for their spirit and courage, for their determination and
The scotties strained in the harnesses, pulling with all of their might, wanting the crowd to
remember this day, to remember that these wee terriers WERE big dogs. They may not have crossed
the finish line first. They may not have had their names in the history books as being the winner
of the 2007 Iditarod, but in the eyes of the crowd, and the Scottie Mams and Dads, these wee
scotties and their pals WERE winners.
The crowd cheered excitedly as the terriers, their heads
held high, their tails rigidly erect, crossed the finish line, then stood tall, their legs braced,
their pride in their accomplishment written on their faces.
The tale of their courage and spirit quickly spread....
and the story of their 1100 mile journey seems to grow more incredible in each telling, quickly
becoming the stuff of legend.
The moral of this story??? Size has no bearing on one's success...only spirit and
Now, back to that POLAR BEAR!!! RUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This ORIGINAL story has been created and written by Carol Johnson.
ORIGINAL illustration done by Karen Donnelly.
It is NOT to be reproduced in ANY way ....PERIOD!!!!
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