Ready to run

A DOG'S LIFE

Yak's Corner

Just for kids

September 28, 1998|By Patricia Chargot

More than a year has passed since musher Al Hardman and his team of huskies finished Alaska's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

So the Yak visited the musher at his home in Michigan to see how he and his dogs were doing.

There was some sad news. Luka, 9, his top leader, died last August. Hardman was heartbroken.

"I really bonded with that dog," he said. "She always knew exactly what I wanted. I really miss her."

The good news is that in May, two other females gave birth to 11 healthy puppies.

"This is Bear," said Hardman, introducing a puppy to the Yak. "He's the only one I've named so far. He looks like a polar bear; that's why I named him that."

It was hot the day the Yak visited, but those dogs were as ready to run as in February 1997, when the Yak first met them and there was snow on the ground. "They'll get so excited to go out, and you know they'll be hot before they hit the end of the yard," Hardman said.

Hardman hooked up eight dogs to an all-terrain vehicle, then the dogs pulled him and the Yak a half-mile. It wasn't as neat as riding on a sled, but it was fun.

Hardman said he plans to do the Iditarod again in 2000, which really surprised the Yak. After he finished his first Iditarod in 1997, he said he didn't think he'd do another. It's a lot of hard work.

L "But it gets in your blood," he said of the 1,161-mile race.

There are two Iditarod routes - northern and southern. Hardman ran the southern route in 1997, so he wants to do the northern next time. That route won't be used until 2000, so he has to wait.

"I'm going back with the idea I'd like to do better than I did before," he said.

That's the attitude. Go, Al!

Pub Date: 9/28/98

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