What would I ever do without nonagenarian Paul Harvey and his daily updates on the progress of the Iditarod sled dog race? Of all the sports going on right now, it’s amazing that he always obsesses on this stupidly barbaric event.
Yes, I know that this is an homage to the heritage of the tough explorers who populated colonial Alaska and created trade routes into the harsh interior of that huge state. I would liken it to the marathon as a nod to Pheidippides, who ran the entire distance from Marathon to Athens to announce the defeat of the Persians. So athletes still run that exact distance in his honor, even though it has no logical basis in either the American or metric measuring systems. The part of the legend that people fail to remember is that Pheidippides dropped dead of exhaustion immediately after arriving in Athens.
And that’s what’s happening to these sled dogs in Alaska. I am aware that they are genetically predisposed to run and that their huge hearts would rather have them pull a sled than eat or sleep. But my poodle would love to jump off the top of a five story building if I threw a stick off it, but I don’t do it because it would be dangerous and irresponsible.
There have already been several bad sled wrecks this year and 14 teams have dropped out do to unsafe conditions or injuries to the mushers and/or dog teams. In the history of the “competition,” at least 130 dogs have died during the race. There is no account of how many died either training for or as a result of injuries and exertion during the 1150 mile ordeal.
Isn’t this an event we could really do without? Marathoners make the conscious choice to abuse their bodies in return for the thrill of competition and the health benefits of training. But how many of them would keep doing it if there was somebody behind them with a leather strap at the ready whenever they wanted to take a water break?
Shame on you, Uncle Paul.