Between 18,000-32,000 years ago, humans domesticated wolves and created what we know today as the domestic dog. Since then, dogs have changed humans and have had a major impact on our daily lives. Our relationship with dogs is not only important but constantly evolves as we find new ways to coexist.
A Life of Dogs is a podcast that explores these remarkable relationships that we have created with dogs. Our podcast is unique in that it is not designed as a “how to” or as a training resource. Our podcast shares canine and human interest stories and sheds light into some mesmerizing connections between humans and dogs.
A Life of Dogs is released monthly and is made possible by support from Highland Canine Training, LLC.
Where Is The Finish Line?
Throughout Season Two of A Life of Dogs, we have delved deep into some of the most fascinating stories behind the Last Great Race on Earth – the Iditarod.From investigating the true stories behind these finely-tuned athletes (Peak Performance), to the rookie musher who stepped in for an Iditarod legend at the last minute (Short Notice), and the fateful experiences that demonstrated just how perilous this 1,000 mile race can be (Miles From Safety), we have had no shortage of intrigue and drama in this season of A Life of Dogs.After listening to these stories, you’ve probably gathered that completing the Iditarod is no easy feat. For rookies taking part in the race for the first time, to call it an uphill struggle would be an understatement. It requires dedication, sacrifice, and a hard-working spirit to make it as an Iditarod musher. Yet what happens if you’re not only an Iditarod rookie, but you were born thousands of kilometers away on another continent? How do you travel that distance (metaphorically and literally)? What does your journey to the Iditarod start line look like?To find out the answers to those questions, meet Fabio Berlusconi – a man who went from a small town in northern Italy to take part in the Iditarod. This young, affable Italian spoke to A Life of Dogs for our final Iditarod episode, and the concluding episode of Season Two.
What will you learn in this episode
In this interview, you will understand Fabio’s maiden Iditarod voyage from his own, unique perspective. You will find out:What motivated Fabio to travel from Italy to Alaska for the IditarodHow Fabio prepared for his first IditarodThe strategic decisions before and during the Iditarod, which can make or break a musher’s raceThe thrill of running with a team of sled dogs through the Alaskan wildernessFabio’s reflections on his first Iditarod – and why he is passionate about the sport of mushing
A special thanks to Fabio Berlusconi for taking part in this interview. We would like to thank our episode sponsors. Be sure to visit them to learn more and show them your support. Without their continued support our podcast wouldn’t be possible.Royal CaninWebsite – Facebook – InstagramHighland Canine Training, LLCWebsite – a href="https://www.facebook.
Miles From Safety
To paraphrase an often-cited quote when it comes to risk assessment, and apply it to the Iditarod – when it comes to planning out how this race may unfold, there are ‘known knowns’, ‘known unknowns,’ and ‘unknown unknowns’. The final category – ‘unknown unknowns’ – encompasses risks, dangers and situations that are so unexpected, it would be impossible to put contingencies in place for them.The 2020 Iditarod had its fair share of unknown unknowns. Who knew that the race would take place as the biggest pandemic in a century was spreading across the globe? That was something none of us had prepared for.For a handful of competitors in that race, however, there was a scenario they could not have envisaged in their pre-race planning. In our previous episodes – Short Notice, and On Pins & Needles – we spoke to two mushers with vastly different experience levels when it came to racing in the Iditarod. Sean Underwood, the subject of the first of those episodes, only found out a matter of days beforehand that he would be making his maiden Iditarod voyage by stepping into the shoes of four-time Iditarod winner, Jeff King. In the latter episode, Matthew Failor – with a decade of mushing experience behind him – spoke about what the Iditarod meant to him, and how passionate he is about the sport of mushing.Yet in the early hours of March 20, 2020, the paths of these two mushers converged – literally. In the latter stages of the race, after sheltering from a huge storm, Underwood headed out on the trail towards the final two checkpoints of Safety and Nome. Little did he know what he would encounter on that journey – and little did he know that Failor would be stuck in the midst of it with him.
What will you learn in this episode?
In this podcast episode, you’ll hear first-hand experiences from Underwood and Failor of their fateful meeting on the path towards the checkpoint at Safety.At the best of times, the journey across Alaska in the Iditarod can be a treacherous one. The rugged terrain and harsh weather conditions mean that this 1,000 mile race is a true test of mushers and their dogs. So you can only imagine what it must be like when the trail conditions are far from optimal.Stuck in a pile of icy slush and snow, rendering the trail impassable, discover how these two mushers worked together to extricate themselves. In addition to the physical toll, Underwood and Failor also discuss the emotional consequences of ‘pushing the button’ and scratching from the race.
If you enjoy this episode of A Life of Dogs, why not check out these related episodes?Short Notice – The full story of how Sean Underwood entered the Iditarod with just a few days’ notice.On Pins & Needles – Learn about Matthew Failor’s journey into the world of mushing.a href="https://alifeofdogs.
On Pins & Needles
The Iditarod is a challenge like no other. After all, where else can you tackle 1,000 miles of the Alaskan wilderness with nothing but a sled and a team of dogs to guide you?In our previous episode, Short Notice, we explored the story of Sean Underwood – a rookie who stepped in for Iditarod legend, Jeff King, just a few days before the 2020 race. The challenges posed for a novice in an event like the Iditarod are obvious. Navigating the terrain. Managing your team of dogs. Strategy, tactics and planning. The Last Great Race on Earth is a race like no other.Yet even experienced mushers can encounter challenging situations in the Iditarod. Every race throws up its own story – its own trials and tribulations – that a musher must navigate. By the 2020 iteration of the race, Matthew Failor had already completed multiple Iditarods. He thought he was prepared for almost any eventuality he could encounter on the trail. But for Failor, and a few of his fellow competitors, this race would provide a unique scenario that no amount of preparation could have accounted for.On Pins and Needles explores Failor’s journey – from pursuing a degree in photography at Ohio State University, to a Iditarod veteran with a decade of experience under his belt – and his experiences in the 2020 race.
What will you learn in this episode?
In this episode of A Life of Dogs, Matthew Failor offers incredible insight into the life of a musher, and what it means to race in the Iditarod. You’ll learn about:Failor’s advice to anyone considering embarking on a career in mushingWhy he is so passionate about the IditarodA health scare for one of Failor’s dogs, and how the veterinary care available to dogs competing in the Iditarod saved their lifeWhat mushers do during the mandatory 24 hour rest period in the raceHow Failor and his team of dogs had to demonstrate resilience in the face of some incredibly harsh conditions on the trail
The importance of veterinary care in the Iditarod
Like any athlete at the top of their game, sled dogs need to be in optimum physical condition to operate at their maximum potential. It is also essential that they receive the veterinary care required if they need it.In our previous episode, Peak Performance, we spoke with veterinarians, mushers and organizers about the safety protocols and veterinary procedures in place at the Iditarod. There was no better demonstration of this than in Failor’s recounting of a health scare for one of his dogs, who suffered gastric dilation (also known as bloat). This condition is unpreventable and can be life-threatening, but the quick work and organization meant that the dog was able to be flown to Anchorage for surgery.
Imagine you’re an athlete competing to be at the pinnacle of your sport. Perhaps you’re a swimmer, a sprinter, a pitcher, or a quarterback. You dedicate yourself to honing your craft. You learn the skills you’ll need to succeed. You spend time mentoring underneath one of the legends of your sport. You work hard – you know that it isn’t your time yet, but it’s just around the corner. Maybe in a year or two.And then, you get the shock of your life – it turns out that just around the corner isn’t next year. It isn’t the year after. In fact, just around the corner is actually four days away. Four days. You have four days to prepare for the biggest event of your career. You have to mentally and physically prepare yourself to take on a gruelling marathon in less than one hundred hours. How will you handle the challenge? This might sound like the elaborate plot of a Hollywood movie, but in the 2020 Iditarod, this is exactly the fate that befell Sean Underwood, a twenty-nine year old musher who was born in Atlanta. Underwood was mentoring under Jeff King, an Iditarod Hall of Famer and four-time winner of the event (1993, 1996, 1998, 2006). When King had to undergo emergency surgery in the week leading up to the 2020 Iditarod, he nominated Underwood to take his place in the race. What followed was a remarkable story, as this rookie musher entered his first Iditarod with just a few days to prepare. In this episode of A Life of Dogs, we speak to Underwood about his first experience running in the Iditarod.
Underwood’s introduction to mushing
Born in Atlanta, GA, Underwood moved to Alaska in 2015 after graduating college. He spent time living with his aunt, uncle and cousin, working with them to fish commercially for sockeye salmon on Kodiak Island. His aunt and uncle were friends with Jeff King – a legend in the mushing world. Underwood started working at King’s Husky Homestead, where tours are offered and visitors can witness sled dog training in action.
After spending time working at Husky Homestead doing a variety of tasks, Underwood gained experience and learned how to control the sled and the team of dogs. Then, when King suffered a back injury just a week before a 200 mile sled dog race, he asked Underwood to step in. That wouldn’t be the last time Underwood would take King’s place in a sled dog race at short notice.
The 2020 Iditarod
Which factor determines the success of a world-class team of athletes?Is it an insatiable desire to succeed? Is it the benefits of a comprehensive training program? Perhaps it’s a truly unbreakable level of trust in one another? Or maybe it is an unrelenting focus on the physical and mental wellbeing of the team?The reality is that, at the top level of any team sport you can think of, all of those elements play a significant part in achieving success. After all, to win a World Series, or a Super Bowl, or a Stanley Cup, you need to have that desire to succeed. You need to train. You need to trust one another. And you need to take care of your team.It is no different in the Iditarod – the world’s greatest sled dog race, pitting teams of mushers in an annual race through the Alaskan wilderness. In the Iditarod, these crucial components all contribute towards the success of a musher and their team of dogs. The Iditarod is the pinnacle of the sled dog world, and it takes physical and mental endurance to withstand the inevitable obstacles faced in a 900 mile race in treacherous conditions.When we visited Alaska to witness the Iditarod in 2020, we were fortunate to see first-hand the dedication required for these human-dog partnerships to succeed. The care and attention placed upon the dogs who participate in the Iditarod is of utmost importance to the organizers, veterinarians, volunteers, and naturally, the mushers themselves – one of the most important aspects of good teamwork in the Iditarod is recognizing the health and wellbeing of your team.We wanted to dive deeper to understand precisely what steps are taken to develop these world-class athletes, in addition to getting more information on the level of care they receive during the race. For this episode, we spoke to a number of people, including mushers, veterinarians, and even the CEO of the Iditarod.In this episode, you’ll learn about:* The difference between a finely-tuned sled dog competing in the Iditarod and a regular pet dog* How the Iditarod is a celebration of the passion and purpose of sled dogs* The development of canine nutrition to improve performance* How the Iditarod’s squad of volunteer veterinarians help to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the dogs competing in the race* Misinformation and threats to the race from animal rights groups
The musher’s perspective
DeeDee Jonrowe is a world-class musher and one of the most well-known figures in the sport. Jonrowe finished as a runner-up in the Iditarod three times in the 1990s. She also won the award for Most Inspirational Musher in 2003, when she competed in the Iditarod just a matter of weeks after finishing chemotherapy following a breast cancer diagnosis.Jonrowe explains what really makes a great sled dog, and how a musher builds a strong relationship with their team of dogs, enabling them to identify the dog’s physical and mental state. Above all else, mushers have a duty of care to the dogs they are working with, and Jonrowe highlights how this helps them to recognize the potential limits of their team’s capabilities.As with any athlete, good nutrition can have a significant impact on performance. Jonrowe also covers the importance of types of foo...
The Iconic Race of the North
Cast your mind back to March 2020 for a moment.Across the world, only one topic is dominating the news cycle. The threat of a pandemic is looming larger with each passing day. A deadly virus – with the potential to drastically alter our long-held, cherished routines – is getting closer.Yet in one corner of the globe, Covid-19 is not the center of attention. Far from it. Here, the air is crisp. The ground is laden with snow. And in this place, there is one long-held, cherished routine that will not be altered.It’s March in Alaska, and that means one thing – the greatest sled dog race in the world is about to begin.The Iditarod is here.
In the coming weeks and months, we’ll be releasing a series of episodes focused on the Iditarod. This iconic sled dog race takes place throughout Alaska each March, running from Anchorage to Nome. Mushers and their team of sled dogs battle challenging terrain, sub-zero temperatures and heavy blizzards in their attempts to reach the finish line in first place. Winners typically battle for eight to nine days in these hazardous conditions.At A Life of Dogs, we were very fortunate to capture the magic of the Iditarod when we traveled to Alaska to cover the 2020 edition. It was an experience we will never forget – and we can’t wait to bring some amazing stories to you in our upcoming episodes.
Introducing the Iditarod
So, you may have heard about this famous sled dog race – but how much do you actually know about it?In our first episode, you’ll learn a little about what makes this race so special.Whether it’s the sheer amount of preparation it takes for mushers and their teams to succeed in this treacherous race, or the tradition of the ceremonial start in Anchorage, or to what some mushers describe as the almost spiritual experience of traveling out on the race route with a pack of sled dogs – there are so many interesting stories surrounding the Iditarod.
Riding through the harsh Alaskan landscape with a pack of sled dogs isn’t for the faint of heart. As you may imagine, it takes a special type of person to compete in the Iditarod.
This podcast definitely is one to pull on your heartstrings. It was an inspiring story about an extraordinary person who didn’t let his disability hinder him in truly living and loving life. I would definitely give it a listen!
Battle of the ally
Great podcast. Actually knowing that dog breed for certain things are being use. Helping the city out and bringing people together. This channel in a whole is great. Some awesome stories.
Battle for the Alley
Battle for the Alley was the first podcast I listened to from A Life of Dogs. This episode contained everything you’d want when listening to a podcast, great narration, behind the scenes chats, personal interviews, and audio from the time they got to see these working dogs in action. When you think working dogs you don’t always picture terriers hunting vermin but that’s exactly what these dogs were bred to do. I am excited to listen to the rest of the episodes to learn more about the interconnection between dogs and their handlers all around the world.