According to Iditarod.com, this morning veteran musher David Sawatzky scratched at McGrath checkpoint “out of concern for his dogs.” Sawatzky had already taken his 24-hour break at Rainy Pass, but he was down to 13 dogs after dropping two dogs at Rainy Pass and another at Rohn. It’s not clear what problems Sawatzky’s dogs were having, but the unseasonably high temperatures during this year’s race, reaching 40F – 50F in some places, is clearly affecting some of the dog teams.
Also, an update on Scott Janssen’s earlier scratch at Rainy Pass. Apparently, one of his dogs, Bear, collapsed just outside of Rainy Pass. As Janssen returned to the checkpoint with Bear in his sled bag, he noticed a few of his other dogs breathing heavily. Here’s Janssen’s explanation from his Facebook page:
As I came into Rainy Pass you saw my speed drop significantly.. I had one of my 7 LARGE dogs (over 60 pounds) in my basket… He had sunken into a deep boot hole (punchy snow especially for bigger dogs) I have a bag behind my seat to carry gear or a dog… I put Puma in it. When I came into Rainy Pass, the race vets (all of which are incredible at what they do and very appreciated) checked my other 15 dogs who then ate n drank and where standing barking and ready to go at 3 and a half hours I left at around 4hrs… About 4 miles out (it was a warm evening with again punchy snow) Bear collapsed breathing heavy… I checked him and his temp was up too high so I loaded him on top of the sled and turned around to bring him back to the checkpoint… Within two miles others showed similar signs so at one point I had 5 dogs for a short bit on / in my sled. When I got to the lake I put 4 back out and eased them at walking speed to the dog lot… Knowing 6 of my 7 best most powerful team had to be dropped leaving me only 10 to leave, I had to think of these last ten dogs and make this tough decision.. With the heat and soft trail I felt I was asking too much of them.
Janssen, a funeral home director known as the “Mushing Mortician,” had a dog collapse during the 2012 race as he and his team were going down the Dalzell Gorge. Janssen saved the dog by giving him mouth-to-snout resuscitation.