As an April Fool's joke, the ALO March news will actually be written on time. Dog racing dominated the month's activities as usual for March. A twice daily blog for John Baker's website kept things active at ALO during the Iditarod, but local races were also a factor. ALO staff member Dolly Angstman took part in the annual Camp Out race, a race she won a few years ago. This year she finished tenth, after a frustrating start caused by a balky leader. Excellent weather in the 20's with no wind created scenes like this.
Not all the dog race news was happy. PETA got involved in the Iditarod when a dropped dog suffocated in a snow storm at the Unalakleet checkpoint. The dog, owned by Paige Drobny, was parked in such a way that blowing snow drifted over the dog. This is believed to be the first dropped dog death in the history of the race. Because of that incident PETA issued the following letter to the press and Nome DA asking that Drobny be prosecuted for the loss of the dog, which happened several days after she left the dog with race officials at the checkpoint. Drobny contacted ALO, and this was the response.
Loyal readers of this website can expect a retraction shortly.
This year's Iditarod featured the story of a dog who got loose during the race and eventually made his way back from the Alaska Range to the Matsu Valley where he was caught and returned to his owner. That story made big news, but pales by comparison to the story of Hotfoot, a lead dog from the team of the first Iditarod Champion Dick Wilmarth. Hotfoot got loose in Nome after the race, and was assumed lost when he was not seen for several days. But Hotfoot was no ordinary dog. He decided to go to his home, Stony River, a small village on the Kuskokwim River, probably 600 miles from Nome, and not on the Iditarod Trail. No one knows how he did it, but Hotfoot showed up in Stony River several weeks later, thinner but healthy. The Dog Farm had a dog run home from a checkpoint as well. Bingo was dropped in the 1986 Kuskokwim 300 at Aniak. He got home before the race team made it to the finish line. KYUK news reporter Rich Trotto asked to restage the return for the TV cameras, so Bingo was turned loose a few hundred yards from home and he trotted back to appear on the evening news.
Nome was the site of ALO's most recent trial. As issue was a grizzly bear harvested by a local hunter who took it in to Fish and Game for sealing as required by law. Officials there decided it was too young and charged him with a crime. Eventually the case was reduced to a violation, where the hunter can be convicted regardless of his reason for taking the animal if it is proven that the animal is under 2 years old. The state believed this animal was about one year, eight months old. Unfortunately, the literature on the subject points to the difficulty in determining the age of a bear, and the hunter was acquitted. To his credit the DA involved suggested this case should appear on the ALO monthly news, which he apparently reads.
ALO settled a major plane crash case for a local man who was injured in a nearby village. The case dragged on for many years, and should have been settled long ago. If it had been, the case would have likely settled for much less than it did now, and an immense amount of fees and costs could have been saved by the air carrier's insurance company and ALO. But this is a company which apparently believes that resolving cases quickly encourages more lawsuits, and should be avoided. The air carrier involved spent some time arguing about whether its name could appear in this report. Webmaster Rich Gannon was delighted to learn that his website had attracted that much attention. The same air carrier was not so shy of publicity in recent years when TV cameras were filming episodes of a popular reality series in Western Alaska. It was pointed out by ALO that bad publicity from crashes could be avoided by not crashing so much. There have been a bunch of rural Alaskan airplane accidents covered in the press (google air carrier names to see some of them) and lots of law suits (check Alaska Court View, using the same names) ALO has had its own air crash. Check the September 2007 news for one way of dealing with such reports. In the settled case, the pilot took off from a village strip with deep water standing in the muddy ruts. Passengers said he got airborne two times and settled back to the ground before giving it one last try, and crashing off the end of the runway. The plane was probably overloaded, and was running poorly according to a witness on the ground.
Long time Dog Farm helper James Nicholas is no longer a fixture at ALO. After a medical issue last summer, James retired in his own way, by not showing up anymore. That's the same way he was first hired, when in the late 70's he showed up and started helping with the dogs and yard work, without any discussion of pay or hours. He moved to Anchorage for a few years in the late 80's and then returned to work without asking if he still had a job, in the 90's. Over the years he befriended a lot of people who have drifted through the Dog Farm. His old fashioned Indian view of life was unique and difficult to describe, but was treasured by many. At age 80 he was still capable of physical activities that much younger folks would not think of. Other folks can replace the help, but it would be hard to find someone to replace the color James provided. Everyone at ALO and the Dog Farm wishes James all the best in the future. Happy Trails.
Now the pictures that have made the cut for this month. Here is Hanna Israelsson, delivering Girl Scout cookies, Bethel style.
This is the first dog ever to become acquainted with the current owner of the Dog Farm.
His name was Mike , some kind of Spaniel, and he was a wonderful farm buddy in Minnesota about 1955. The trick of going into the woods with Mike to avoid chores still works at OFDF. Here is one example of that trick.
The picture was taken near the finish line of the 1987 Beargrease, which was a record setting win. The light colored lead dog was named Feisty, and she won a bunch of races for the Dog Farm.
Finally, a cartoon about famous artist M. C. Escher. If you aren't a fan of his work, you should be.