With Four Time Champ - Martin Buser
On Wednesday afternoon, we got to visit Happy Trails Kennel which is Martin Buser's kennel. The kennel is sending three teams out this year. Martin will be running his 29th race, his son Rohn will be running his second race, and their handler, Matt Failor will be running team of yearling dogs just for the dogs to have fun and practice! Rhon is feeling good about his chances for this year - he says he won the Jr. Iditarod on his fourth try, the Kusko 300 on his third try, so he figures he should win the Iditarod on his second try. Maybe it's just wishful thinking on his part!
The Buser family and the staff of the kennel were so warm and welcoming as they invited us in. We got a chance to visit and play with the over 100 dogs they have in their kennel.
I wish I wasn't allergic!
The yearling dogs and younger dogs that Matt will be running are housed on the left hand side of the kennel. Rohn gets the "bad dogs" and has become partial to them. The "good dogs" and the more experience dogs become Martin's dogs!
Rohn took us into the trophy room to show us the kennel's trophies. Martin has won the Iditarod four times! The kennel is most proud of the four Humanitarian Awards that Martin has won. That award is presented to the musher whose dogs show the best care and attention and are judged by the vets at the end of the race.
The glass trophies are the Iditarod Humanitarian Awards
Martin asked us we had seen Rohn's "Little Trophy." Rohn won the Kusko 300 in January. He beat his dad and Lance Mackey in the race!
Rohn's Kusko 300 Trophy
Martin took us inside their sled shop where all three racers have built their own sleds for the race this year. He spent a lot of time talking to us about the gear they have to take and how they plan for things along the trail. The Busers use a lot of science to help them prepare for the race. They have a whole science lab where they work with and monitor the dogs to see how they can help improve their success in the race. He stressed over and over again that it is all about keeping the dogs happy and healthy. You are only as fast as your slowest dog, so he likes to focus a lot of attention on helping all of his dogs reach their highest potential. They do a lot of work to ensure their equipment makes life easier for the dogs - they experiment with different types of polymer runners for different locations on the trail, a two part sled that allows the center of gravity to be better distributed for the dogs, special harnesses that allow the dogs to pull the most efficient way while allowing the dogs to pick their own path along the trail..... and much, much, more! It was pretty amazing!