Iditarod race sparks dog mushing memories for Shaktoolik elder
The Iditarod is more than a race, it’s a tribute to Alaska history. For one checkpoint in particular on the trail, the annual event brings back memories for elders.
Dog mushing was the main mode of transportation in Shaktoolik up until the 1960s when snowmachines trickled into the town.
"Every home had a dog team. They can’t live without dogs," said Hannah Takak of those pre-snowmachine days.
The 82-year-old ran her own sled dogs as a girl, often to run errands like getting wood or fetching ice.
"They were our lifeline-- they were a big help," Takak said of the dogs.
The dogs were more than just a way to get around, they were part of the family, Takak says.
But a bigger family means more mouths to feed.
"I miss them, but [it was] lots of work, I guess," Takak chuckled. "It seems like it’s easier with snowmachines."
Now, Hannah’s got her hands full with just one dog at home-- and her family has grown in other ways with more than two dozen grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Gone are the days of the dogs in Shaktoolik. Snowmachines are an easier ride that now rules the town.
Dog mushing has since vanished from Shaktoolik. The last team to race the Iditarod was in 2003.
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