Meet the Sled Dogs: Runaway May

Devin Kelly

Name: May

Age: Almost 10

Gender: Female

Weight: 40 pounds

Position: Lead

Musher: Jim Lanier, Chugiak

During the 2013 Iditarod, May was a member of Jamaican musher Newton Marshall’s dog team when her path to the finish line took an unexpected turn — literally. May’s owner, musher Jim Lanier, re-tells the story:

“May was in the race last year...250 or 300 miles into the race, something got tangled or something, and she got loose. And she took off. We never found her. So when (Marshall) got to Nikolai he had to scratch, because you cannot continue without all your dogs.

“The next week, she was at large, and there was a massive woman-hunt for her...a lot of people saw her, but nobody could put a hand on her. (We were) very concerned about whether she’d starve or a wolf would get her. And people kept seeing her all the way back to near the start.”

Six days after May first got loose, Kaitlin Koch, then 24, spotted the dog on a trail in the Big Lake area while she was out snowmachining with two other people.

“They knew the story and saw the dog, and thought, well that wouldn’t be it,” Lanier said. “But it was. End of story, she returned to our kennel, where she’s been ever since.” May’s homeward bound journey of several hundred miles made international headlines and Lanier and his wife went on “Good Morning America” to talk about it.

May is an Iditarod veteran and has been a leader for years, Lanier said. She was part of a litter of 12 dogs, and each one was named after a month.
“This year, May will be on the team, and one of my best leaders,” Lanier said.

— Devin Kelly

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