Minerva of the Iditarod

By @CJtheReader
Minerva of the Iditarod

A lead dog introduces her team and describes the Iditarod (an annual sled-dog race in Anchorage, Alaska). Along the way, they encounter many unexpected obstacles. Will they overcome their difficulties, or is it too much for them?

Chapter 1

Introducing My Team

As I ran, the wind whipping my face. I stuck out my tongue to taste the snowflakes that were furiously falling. The cold, sharp air rushed up my nostrils and stung. I saw a squirrel, veered toward it, and slipped on a hidden patch of ice.

Just as I braced myself for impact, I woke with a start. The scent of bacon immediately caught my attention. My stomach rumbled. I located the source, watching my human taking out of a plastic bag what hopefully was my breakfast. I trotted up and nudged him pointedly.

“Minerva!” Gary said, laughing. The bacon pieces lay in the snow, free for the taking. Before he could blink, I gulped it down. Sorry, Gary.You’re not eating my breakfast this time.

“I’ll let you have it this one time, only because we’re starting the Iditarod today. Don’t expect to get bacon on the trail!” He got another meat package out of his large duffel bag, and I was generous enough to leave it alone and observe my fellow-sled dogs waking up.

Growl lay his snout on his paws and returned my stare. He was a half-wolf, half-dog, named after the sounds he commonly made. His mate, Whimper, lay next to him, lazily watching Gary. Gary had found her in an almost-out-of-business shelter. She grew into a valuable team member, never hesitating to take her place at the back of the harness.

Cassie snorted snowflakes out of her nose and sat up. She was a pretty and tough husky. She had stayed with Gary the longest of all of us. She ignored me and trotted up to Gary, hoping for breakfast. While she chowed down on her meat, I sniffed around to ensure that no strange animal had been around. I found nothing of interest except for another dog’s faint scent marks that were probably from weeks ago. I decided to let the matter rest for now.

Tempest was still asleep, but his nose twitched at the smell of breakfast. He had been rescued from two vicious men who made him fight other dogs for entertainment. Mostly, he kept to himself and was wary even of his team. I went back to my snow-nest and lay down. I rolled around a bit in the snow to wake up a little more and continued my observations.

Jewel sat up, her snout high. She was a pretty dog and mostly concerned about herself. Her eyes were as cold as the ice crystals in the air and her interactions with the rest of us. However vain she was, she was a decent worker. Her sister, Duchess, sat next to her. She had the same cold eyes and grey fur, but more of a tendency to slack. Gary had had to discipline her more than once.

Three more dogs, Larry, Moe, and Curly, woke up. Larry immediately started to roam the boundaries of our campsite while Moe and Curly had a playful fight. Larry was the most responsible on the team while the other two were goofy, yet always cheerful and on-task when necessary.

Odin sat up and looked around with alert eyes. Gary had found him as a mere pup wandering the forest alone. His origin was a mystery; no one knew his parents or home. He was bold and strong, yet cautious and constantly alert. His mate, Frigg, looked at him with sleepy eyes. She was sweet and gentle. If a dog was injured, she would comfort them. She was also the peacemaker of the team.

Jupiter and Juno had begun making rounds on the perimeter of the camp, like Larry. Jupiter was quite pleasant and could approach Tempest without getting growled at. Juno was nice, but bossy, especially when it came to getting organized in our rigging. They had two grown puppies who had been sold long ago; Mars and Vulcan.

 After all of us stretched, peed, and ate our breakfast, we ran to the sled to be rigged up. I held up my snout proudly as I took the lead place. The other dogs naturally fell into their order.

“Hike!” Gary ordered, and we took off. It wasn’t long before we were standing at the starting line. The town was pure chaos. Picture the worst noise you’ve heard, increase it a whole lot more, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what it sounded like. Not to mention it was crowded and I was starting to feel pressed in on all sides

Eventually someone yelled “Quiet for the start!” The humans and dogs fell mostly silent and some dispersed. I crouched down like a coiled spring.

“Ready…take your mark…GO!”

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