Saturday, December 19, 2009


I started writing more about the SNOWPOCALYPS #AVLSNOMG etc. etc. last night but then the power flickered and went out briefly and so I gave up and went to bed with a book and a flashlight. We never really did lose power, although my brother did and then my aunt. I know this because my brother called me at around quarter to one in the morning to tell me that they had no power and in my sleepfuddled haze, I thought he said they were coming over to my house. I got out of bed (realizing as I did that that yes, I have in fact caught Miles' sore throat and cold) and made up the bed in the computer room and the one in the guest room downstairs and dragged a space heater downstairs and then I went back to bed to commence worrying that my brother and aunt were stuck in a ditch. Finally I figured out that if they were dumb enough to leave Annie's house in the middle of a blizzardy night then it was not my fault if they went into a ditch and what would I do about it anyway besides walk down there and say, hmm, yes, you are indeed in a ditch? Still, I woke up every couple of hours to see if they had showed up, which they finally did around 9:30 this morning, having sensibly stayed put last night.

There were weird people out walking around late last night. There was a kid with a snowboard around 2 am; a snowboard and a friend who had sat down in the snow and was burying his legs across the street. I am the kind of person who gets all fond and sentimental over stuff like that - oooh, sweet, look, they're on drugs! - but it was 2 in the morning and I went back to bed. My brother says that when he went by the Admiral last night late, after his power went off and before Annie's died, it was packed. I bet it was. I bet it was fun, too, but I am old and have a cold and on my leg my tooth is gold, or something like that.

I'm surprised we didn't see more cars in ditches or kids on drugs yesterday from Audrey's porch. I walked down there in the wild snow and hung out for a couple of hours, happily measuring the snow by her back door every hour on the hour. There was very little traffic, which is not surprising - Audrey's car is at the Waffle House on Long Shoals Road, actually, because that's as far as she could get from work yesterday morning - and mine is in front of the house, indistinguishable from a snowdrift and likely to remain that way. There were several dogs investigating the snow and stopping by, but hardly any people.

My dogs have been having a great time. Perdita clearly didn't remember ever seeing snow before - she is very young, still - and first thing yesterday morning she was horrified. Django and Theo went dashing down into it while she stayed on the porch and barked, "You're in terrible danger! Come away from the white stuff!" but a few hours later she was bouncing around like she was training for the dog fun Iditarod, in which people pull dogs and the dogs get to leap off and chase snowballs now and then. Ah the dog fun Iditarod!

Anyway, I'm home and probably staying right here. I think I will make soup and keep on hoping that the power keeps on keeping on.


Sled Dog Action Coalition said...

For the dogs, the Iditarod is a bottomless pit of suffering. Six dogs died in the 2009 Iditarod, including two dogs on Dr. Lou Packer's team who froze to death in the brutally cold winds. What happens to the dogs during the race includes death, paralysis, frostbite (where it hurts the most!), bleeding ulcers, bloody diarrhea, lung damage, pneumonia,
ruptured discs, viral diseases, broken bones, torn muscles and tendons and sprains. At least 142 dogs have died in the race. No one knows how many dogs die after this tortuous ordeal or during training.

On average, 52 percent of the dogs who start the race do not make it across the finish line. According to a report published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, of those who do finish, 81 percent have lung damage. A report published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine said that 61 percent of the dogs who complete the Iditarod have ulcers versus zero percent pre-race.

Iditarod dog kennels are puppy mills. Mushers breed large numbers of dogs and routinely kill unwanted ones, including puppies. Many dogs who are permanently disabled in the Iditarod, or who are unwanted for any reason, including those who have outlived their usefulness, are killed with a shot to the head, dragged, drowned or clubbed to death. "Dogs are clubbed with baseball bats and if they don't pull are dragged to death in harnesses......" wrote former Iditarod dog handler Mike Cranford in an article for Alaska's Bush Blade Newspaper.

Dog beatings and whippings are common. During the 2007 Iditarod, eyewitnesses reported that musher Ramy Brooks kicked, punched and beat his dogs with a ski pole and a chain. Jim Welch says in his book Speed Mushing Manual, "Nagging a dog team is cruel and ineffective...A training device such as a whip is not cruel at all but is effective." "It is a common training device in use among dog mushers..."

Jon Saraceno wrote in his March 3, 2000 column in USA Today, "He [Colonel Tom Classen] confirmed dog beatings and far worse. Like starving dogs to maintain their most advantageous racing weight. Skinning them to make mittens.. Or dragging them to their death."

During the race, veterinarians do not give the dogs physical exams at every checkpoint. Mushers speed through many checkpoints, so the dogs get the briefest visual checks, if that. Instead of pulling sick dogs from the race, veterinarians frequently give them massive doses of antibiotics to keep them running.

Most Iditarod dogs are forced to live at the end of a chain when they aren't hauling people around. It has been reported that dogs who don't make the main team are never taken off-chain. Chained dogs have been attacked by wolves, bears and other animals. Old and arthritic dogs suffer terrible pain in the blistering cold.

The Iditarod, with all the evils associated with it, has become a synonym for exploitation. The race imposes torture no dog should be forced to endure.

Margery Glickman
Sled Dog Action Coalition,

Gratuitous said...

Wow, I had no idea of the tragedy. But SDAC, you put me in a bit of a position. This blog is so very beautiful in its individuality, and the unique and loving perspective of the dogs in the author's life plays an important part of her very appealing narrative. As a result, hers is a success story for us flawed humans as an occasionally redeeming and sometimes compassionate species.

But to put it bluntly, you killed my buzz. Don't get me wrong; if I were as knowledgeable about this type of suffering as you are, I'd be screaming from the rooftops too, and would spread the word at every turn. In fact, thanks to you I intend to find out more and maybe get slightly involved with your cause. You're right to tout, but... I'm miffed at the sense of opportunism I get from your comment. It just doesn't seem like the place for a copy & paste campaign. And yet, on the other hand if it saves just one... See what I mean? I'm suddenly distracted from the terrible beauty of Fliss's life (I even used an endearing nickname for her just now, even though I've never met her). Dammit y'all.

I don't know if it's realistic, but when I come here I just want non-human causes spread via literary and empathic venues, the way it's been done in the past via Wagner, Shelley, London and Dahl, and Fliss.

mygothlaundry said...

Thanks, gratuitous! That is a very sweet comment.

As for the SDAC thing, well, um, comment spam is comment spam whether it's for a good cause or not. If you are checking, SDAC person, which I doubt you are, tell me why I should leave it, when you are clearly just trolling around looking for the word Iditarod and then pasting your screed inside. As it turns out I do know something about the real Iditarod and I'm not a fan, but still, I don't like comment spam either.

Salty Miss Jill said...

Hope you're keeping cozy there.
I giggled at the getting sentimental at kids on drugs...heh, me too.
Did you know that there is a very flattering article on Asheville in this month's Bust magazine?

mygothlaundry said...

Yep, keeping warm! It's been a long three day weekend though, I must say. Cool about Bust! I'll have to pick up a copy.

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