From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage --
Zoya DeNure's lead dog "Demon," a reformed biter that we recently profiled in our "Meet the Sled Dogs" series, was injured Friday in a moose attack, the Gakona musher says. DeNure's racing sled was also damaged in the melee.
Here's what happened, in her words:
(Audio by Marc Lester/Anchorage Daily News)
DeNure also described the encounter in a series of Facebook posts, reprinted here with permission:
7 p.m., Friday
"Calling out for all prayers! My team just got tangled with a moose or Tozier track! Demon was kicked in the head, sounds like he's hurting pretty bad. My race sled got hammered, too! Demon is on his way to see the vet team right now!"
8 p.m., Friday
"Demon has been seen by ITC vets, he's sore on his side and shoulder, apparent bruising and area is swollen-- he's not out just yet. We'll apply cold and hot compress all night. If he can't run, we'll know soon enough and we'll have a great race for him this year. Keep the good positive thoughts coming-- thank you."
11 p.m., Friday
"The moose stepped through my new sled bag- made a huge hole! (Husband) John here sewing it up with needle and thread."
12:15 a.m., today
"We are doing great- everything is fine. We're excited to get the race underway. Demon is responding well to hot n cold compress, sled bag fixed and sled is in good shape. See ya at the starting line."
Demon & DeNure in happier times:
Demon is at least the second Iditarod dog injured by moose in the weeks and days before the race. Alberta racer Karen Ramstead's wheel dog, Irving, suffered a torn muscle in his hind leg during a mid-February attack.
Ramstead and her handler say they were forced to shoot and kill the moose. The threat of moose encounters is particularly high this year in Southcentral Alaska and the Iditarod heartland of the Mat-Su, where heavy snowfall has tempted the animals to walk along plowed streets and wander driveways.
The attack on Ramstead's dog came in Willow, where the race restarts tomorrow. DeNure's moose encounter was at a popular city sled dog trail in Anchorage -- a collection of paths that sit across from a Jiffy Lube and strip mall along one of the city's busier streets.