Alaska News

Stranded sled dogs find a temporary home on Washington Indian reservation

Dozens of Iditarod sled dogs headed home to Norway are making a brief stop at an Indian reservation outside of Olympia, Washington.

Musher Tore Albrigtsen and 53 huskies spent Tuesday at property on the Nisqually Indian Reservation after an unexpected detour en route to Norway. Albrigtsen was traveling with other mushers who did not race the Iditarod.

Albrigtsen, one of a record eight Norwegians in this year's race to Nome, finished 36th in his second Iditarod. He intended to fly his huskies home from Anchorage but was forced to head south when a cargo plane wasn't available, according to reports from The Olympian newspaper.

Albrigtsen and his handlers instead drove from Alaska to Washington, where they were unable to find a place to stay, according to Joe Cushman, planning director for the Nisqually Tribe. Cushman said a tribal member found them "kind of stranded" on the side of the road, parked with the dogs lined out. He offered to host them at the nearby reservation.

There they were allowed to line out their dogs in shaded areas on the reservation while the mushers themselves were treated to showers and food at a casino.

Cushman said the tribe benefited from having the mushers on site, too. Members of the tribal council and others have come by to check out the dogs. Cushman said he didn't know much about the Iditarod until meeting Albrigtsen.

"It's a great cultural exchange," he said in a phone interview Tuesday.

Cushman said the mushers planned to catch a flight to Europe on Wednesday morning.

Suzanna Caldwell

Suzanna Caldwell is a former reporter for Alaska Dispatch News and Alaska Dispatch. She left the ADN in 2017.