Skip to main Content

Willomitzer back in race after his dog is found

  • Author: Beth Bragg
  • Updated: September 27, 2016
  • Published March 10, 2013

One of two loose dogs on the Iditarod Trail has been caught and the other one is hanging around Rohn but is too timid to catch, an Iditarod spokesman said Sunday night.

Montego, the dog that got loose from Whitehorse musher Gerry Willomitzer's team on Saturday between Iditarod and Shageluk, was found Sunday, Erin McLarnon of the Iditarod said.

That allowed Willomitzer to return to the trail; his race was on hold until the dog was found, because rules say that each dog that leaves one checkpoint must be accounted for at the next checkpoint.

Still on the loose is Mae, a white female from Newton Marshall's team who escaped Friday when Marshall's team got tangled with another. That happened between Rohn and Nikolai.

Mae has been spotted near the Rohn checkpoint but has been too timid to come to anyone. She belongs to Chugiak musher Jim Lanier, and Lanier's wife Anna Bondarenko was in Nikolai on Sunday, headed to Rohn.

"The dog's been real close to the checkpoint and has been spotted every single day," McLarnon said. "Maybe now that Anna is on the ground she'll come to her."

McLarnon said she didn't know many details about Montego -- how it got loose, its gender, or even who caught it.

"I heard a couple of different stories," she said. "I heard it was gentleman out putting up trail signs and I heard another story that it was Gerry."

Loose dogs aren't common in the Iditarod, but they aren't unheard of.

"I had a dog in my kennel that in was in the '93 Iditarod that got loose on the trail and was out there three weeks," McLarnon said.

That dog, named Zach, had been running for another musher's team and had been dropped. It was being loaded into a plane when it ran away, McLarnon said.

McLarnon, a seven-time veteran of the Serum Run to Nome, said she twice drove Zach to Nome in subsequent years.

Reach Beth Bragg at or 257-4335.


For more newsletters click here

Local news matters.

Support independent, local journalism in Alaska.