Missing Iditarod sled dog found near Anchorage
The dog was lured out of hiding with offerings of roast beef, chicken enchiladas and a brownie.
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 at 07:35 PM
ONWARD: Iditarod musher Stephen Schnuelle and dog team traverse the Kuskokwim River during the 2011 race. (Photo: ZUMA Press)
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A lead dog for an Iditarod sled racing team missing for nearly a week in the woods of Anchorage has been found following a broad search effort by fans and supporters, race officials said on Feb. 14.
German Iditarod racer Silvia Furtwangler was reunited with her dog, Whistler on Feb. 13, an Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race spokeswoman said.
"She (Furtwangler) was just so ecstatic," said Erin McLarnon, communications director for the race organization.
Whistler, named after the Canadian ski resort, disappeared a week ago, apparently jumping out of a truck headed north out of Anchorage, McLarnon said.
The truck had sled-dog carriers with enclosures for the dogs built into campers and screened windows on the enclosures, she said.
The musher and her 16 Iditarod dogs had just made the long plane journey from Norway, where they live and train, when the mishap occurred, McLarnon said.
Furtwangler did not realize that Whistler was missing until the truck was about 40 miles north of Anchorage, she said.
"The dog had somehow removed that screen and escaped in Anchorage," McLarnon said. "When they pulled into Wasilla to buy groceries, she noticed that the screen was gone and the dog was gone."
Hundreds of Anchorage residents helped search for Whistler, whose disappearance was featured on local TV newscasts, focusing on a snowy greenbelt in the center of the city. The search also inspired a Facebook page, "Help Find Whistler The Dog."
Ultimately, several individuals who work near the greenbelt lured Whistler in with offerings of roast beef, chicken enchiladas and a brownie, according to an account in the Anchorage Daily Mews.
Furtwangler could have run the Iditarod, the world's most prestigious dog sled race which begins on March 3 in Anchorage, without Whistler, McLarnon said, but the German musher apparently did not want to do so, she said.
"The first thing in her mind was to get her dog back," she said.
The lead dog of a sled plays an important role in guiding the team in the race.
Furtwangler, 50, is racing in her first Iditarod this year. She has experience in other long-distance races, and in 2003 was the first German woman to finish the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest International, according to her website.
(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Greg McCune)
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