Iditarod participant shares her experience with Wabash community

Karen Land holds her retired sled dog Romano while audience participants pet him and ask follow-up questions after her program at the Wabash Carnegie Public Library. Land is a three-time Iditarod participant who currently tours the nation to talk about her experience and answer questions about her dogs, the race, and what it took to become a sled dog musher. Photo by Emma Rausch

By Emma Rausch

Three-time Iditarod Sled Dog Race participant Karen Land presented a discussion at the Wabash Carnegie Public Library on Feb. 28.

With her retired sled dog, Romano, who she said was “just there to be a pretty face,” Land discussed the ins and outs of the Iditarod with an audience of 20 people, covering topics including dog care, some of the obstacles a musher might face during the race, and the benefits that have come from the race.

“Sled dogs are incredibly unique animals so (veterinarians) have been able to use and study their physiology to help other dogs and even humans,” she said.

One of the unique characteristics of a sled team, Land said, was the dogs’ individual personalities.

“(The sled team) is like a giant soap opera,” Land said. “Every single dog on the team has their own likes or dislikes.

“Most of my dogs are right handed or left handed, so they only want to run on the right side or the left side. Some dogs won’t run if there’s a male in front of them or a female behind them. So they have all these weird quirks, and the whole time you’re trying to figure them out.”

Although she isn’t racing currently, Land said she has been trying to get back into it within the last couple of years.

“I actually just sold my house in Montana, and I’ve been considering Michigan,” she said. “I loved training dogs in Montana, and I was out there for 20 years, but it’s really far from my family. I’ve got an aunt (in Indiana), and the UP (Upper Peninsula) is just a day away.

“So now that I have my house sold it might be easier to run again, but I would need all new dogs though.”

Library Director Ware Wimberly III said he was pleased with the turnout of audience participants, hosting more than originally anticipated.

“I thought (The audience) was really engaged,” he said. “It seems like sometimes it’s hard to know whether or not if you have someone come in if it’s going to be someone who is going to connect with the audience.

“Today, to me, it really felt like people were engaged and they were just really interested and they asked so many questions at the end, too.”

Although there is nothing planned as of now, Wimberly said that he hopes to have more programming for adults in the future.

Posted on 2015 Mar 03