Missing Iditarod dog spotted, not caught

Beth Bragg

Mae is still MIA from the Iditarod, although the white sled dog was seen along the trail Friday, according to reports.

Mae slipped free from Jamaica musher Newton Marshall's team somewhere between Rohn and Nikolai on Thursday. On Friday, searchers spotted the dog but couldn't catch her.

"There are other people in the area where Mae was lost & who are looking for her. They have seen her but she is a bit timid," a post on Marshall's Facebook fan page said.

Marshall, the first Caribbean musher to do the Iditarod, is mushing dogs on loan from other kennels. Mae is from Chugiak musher Jim Lanier's kennel, and according to race officials, she got loose somewhere between Rohn and Nikolai.

Marshall, who finished 47th in 2010, scratched in Nikolai after arriving without Mae.

Although mushers are allowed to drop dogs at checkpoints along the trail, they must arrive at those checkpoints with the same dogs they left the previous checkpoint with. If they don't, they must pull out of the race.

According to Marshall's fan page, Mae got loose when dogs from Marshall's and Christine Roalofs' teams got tangled.

"(U)nfortunately Christine stopped short close in front of him causing Newton's team to ball up and tangle," the post said. "In the process of untangling dogs, Mae got loose."

The 80 miles of wilderness between Rohn and Nikolai is where mushers cross the Farewell Burn on a bumpy and often wind-swept stretch of trail.

Those searching for Mae can take hope from the tale of Whitey-Lance, a sled dog who survived more than four days in sub-zero temperatures after slipping out of his harness in the 2010 race.

Whitey-Lance was racing on Willow musher Justin Savidis' team when he escaped on the 50-mile run between Nikolai and McGrath. On the fifth day of his accidental adventure, a skittish Whitey-Lance was caught by searchers in McGrath who used a salmon carcass to lure the dog.

Savidis is back in the race this year. Whitey-Lance is retired.