An Iditarod musher dramatically saved one of his fallen dogs by administering a CPR technique earlier this week.
Scott Janssen, who owns an Anchorage funeral home and is running his second Iditarod, noticed that the tug line of his sled slacked while exiting a famously tricky section of the Alaskan race. Janssen saw that one of his dogs — 9-year-old Marshall — was on the ground after collapsing.
“Boom! Laid right down. It was like a guy my age having a heart attack,” Janssen told the Anchorage Daily News. “I know what death looks like, and he was gone. Nobody home.”
Janssen says he began sobbing, but he didn’t wait long to try and save the dog. He began a dog-saving technique taught to him by another musher where the dog’s tongue is folded into its mouth, and the mouth is shut.
“I had my mouth over his nose, breathing into his nose as I was compressing and rubbing his chest, trying to work the air out,” Janssen said.
He said he was doing the CPR for what felt like an eternity, but was likely no more than five minutes. He implored the dog to respond. “I’m like c’mon dude, please come back,” Janssen explains.
“And he did.”
Marshall gave a hacking cough and became alert. Thankful to have the dog alive, Janssen put Marshall on the sled and carried him about 32 miles to the next checkpoint where he received an IV after being examined by a vet.
The dog seems to be fine, though he is bummed that he won’t be making the trip with the rest of the racing team, Janssen says.
Marshall had completed the race about six times and this was set to be his last. And after a life-saving experience, Janssen will likely return to the trail to try and complete the race for the second time.