The theater might be a strange place to look for a dog musher, but for 2016 UAA grad Meredith Mapes, it's an easy fit.
"As a student, I spent several years here in the costume shop. Sewing dog booties is normally a lonely endeavor, but this is awesome," she said as she looked around at the dozen or so students cutting and sewing the 1,000 booties that her dog team will go through in the next year.
"I got into mushing when I was 6, as a Girl Scout," she said. "I wanted my dog mushing badge."
Since then, she's mushed the Junior Iditarod and the Northern Lights 300, and is planning on racing the Copper Basin 300 this year, the last qualifier she needs in order to compete in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
With her in the costume shop was her dog McKinley, who was wagging her tail and hopping around on her three legs.
"She lost one of her legs last year after it got infected during a run with a poor-fitting dog bootie," she said. "The company I was buying the booties from had bad quality control and it was too tight. McKinley's a good reminder for everyone here to pay attention to the way they are making the booties."
For professor Dan Anteau, who teaches the intro to theater production class, the bootie-making project is a great way to teach skills that the students will use in the costume shop.
"A third of the class is costume class, and this is a great introduction to sewing and costume making," he said.
"Running the Iditarod has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid," said Mapes. "To be this close to the starting line is starting to freak me out. But every bit of support helps. Whether it's helping make booties, or a friend coming to ride on the four-wheeler with me during a training run, it's always a good feeling to know people are there for me."