No dog in this fight
Now this could be a coincidence, but one week ago in this column I mentioned the Iditarod and a famous musher – past winner Lance Mackey – and on Monday I received an email from the Sled Dog Action Coalition.
Believe me when I tell you the number of junk emails I receive on a given day borders somewhere between nuts and crazy, but this one seemed purposely sent.
I’m guessing this email’s author, Margery Glickman, has either the aforementioned Mackey or the Iditarod – or both – on a Google search reminder so that any reference within the vast WWW sends her a response.
I mentioned Lance Mackey – no relation – and therefore my column, which is uploaded each week at www.reviewonline.com (plug), found its way to Glickman’s virtual doorstep.
She should know that living in East Liverpool, Ohio, puts me a mere 3,600 miles away from Nome, Alaska – the finish line of the famous dog sled race. That’s a 7-hour flight.
I’d accept a free trip to Alaska, but I’m not paying to go there anytime soon. Plus it’s cold in Nome and I’ve already put away the winter jacket for the season.
I stand on neither side of what obviously is a controversy, at least based on information Glickman’s organization produced in its email. For the record, I’m sure it was a canned press release, but nonetheless, it worked – I’m writing about it.
Apparently Glickman and her group dislike the alleged treatment of the dogs that are used by mushers in the now 40-year-old race.
I’m not going to provide further free PR by spouting off the accusations, but, if true, they are astounding. But again, I don’t know the sport. I don’t know the rules. I don’t know the tradition.
All I know is a man with the same last name as mine won the 1,000-plus mile race four-straight years from 2007-10; his father Dick, a founder of the iconic race, won the title back in the 1970s; and Lance’s half-brother, Rick, also was crowned champ in the early 1980s. All Mackeys.
That’s the extent of my knowledge, and I had to use Wikipedia to discover it.
The only praise I showed was in this man sharing the surname Mackey. I’m neither a fan of his nor of the “sport.” I’ve never watched the race. I’ve never had the desire to watch the race. And there are things such as basketball, baseball, football, and, yes, even hockey, that fill valued space on our sports pages.
However, I must admit to once watching Snow Dogs starring Cuba Gooding Jr.
I’d have to say these dogs are to the Iditarod what the horse is to the Kentucky Derby. Sure the individual controlling the animal has to be conditioned, but it’s the animal that dictates the performance. At least that’s how I see it.
And training of these animals is paramount to success. I’m sure there are standards which are pushed to the boundary of what is allowable. Just as I’m sure there are those who reach beyond what is permitted.
And like all sports, I’m sure there’s a governing body. People in place to make sure all the t’s are crossed and all the i’s are dotted.
There are challengers everywhere against everything. There is alleged abuse everywhere. There are sides to all issues. Always have been. Always will be. It’s up to us to decided on which side of the fence we stand.
You see, for every negative Glickman can claim, I’m sure the Iditarod brass can respond with a positive. And for every negative Iditarod can track down on Glickman and company, I’m sure they are ready for a positive offering.
I don’t have a dog in the fight when it comes to Glickman and the Iditarod. I merely mentioned the fact I have the same last name as one of the race’s historic winners.
Glad my last name isn’t …
On second thought, I better not say – just in case.
My email already is getting full.
(Jim Mackey is managing editor of The Review. Reach him at email@example.com)