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Iditarod musher saves fallen dog with CPR

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.

Thanks, ThePostGame


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  • Anonymous

    Hey, give this guy a big high five.  He loves his dog, and the dog loves to run.  If the dog died running he was doing what he loves to do with the team he loves and the musher he loves.  Don’t do an animal rights gig on this man.  What a bunch of couch potatoes finding fault with those doing something with their lives.

  • http://twitter.com/bopdadoojoe joe jones

    chain a dog in a wooden box for a yr  at 20 to 30 below the run it to death pulling a qt ton sledge with a easy chair behind over the worst terrain and weather on earth an thats a sport??
    this was run in relays not one complete thousand mile  junt 
    it did not start in anchorage it started in tananra  …
    if  we die shoveling snowwe die doing what we love to do ……hello!!
    any body ever wonder what happens to all those dogs after they r burned out running a thousand miles?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Margery-Glickman/755738228 Margery Glickman

    For the dogs, the Iditarod dog sled race is a bottomless pit of suffering.
    Please end your organization’s support of this event. What happens to dogs
    during the Iditarod includes death, bloody diarrhea, paralysis, frostbite (where
    it hurts the most!), bleeding ulcers, lung damage, pneumonia, ruptured discs,
    viral diseases, kennel cough, broken bones, torn muscles and extreme stress. At
    least 142 dogs have died in the race, including two dogs who froze to death in
    the brutally cold winds. 

    Veterinary care during the Iditarod is poor. Here’s just one example: Veterinarians have allowed dogs with kennel cough to race in the Iditarod even though dogs with this disease should be kept warm and given lots of rest. It’s dangerous for the dogs with this disease to exercise with any intensity. Strenuous exercise can cause lung damage, pneumonia and even death. Kennel cough is a highly contagious disease that normally lasts from 10 to 21
    days.

    Iditarod dogs are beaten into submission. Jane Stevens, a former Iditarod dog handler, describes a dog beating in her letter published by the Whitehorse Star (Feb. 23,
    2011). She wrote: “I witnessed the extremely violent beating of an Iditarod racing dog by one of the racing industry’s most high-profile top 10 mushers. Be assured the beating was clearly not within an ‘acceptable range’ of ‘discipline’. Indeed, the scene left me appalled, sick and shocked. After viewing an individual sled dog repeatedly booted with full force, the male person doing the beating jumping back and  forth like a pendulum with his full
    body weight to gain full momentum and impact. He then alternated his beating
    technique with full-ranging, hard and fast, closed-fist punches like a piston to
    the dog as it was held by its harness splayed onto the ground. He then
    staggeringly lifted the dog by the harness with two arms above waist height,
    then slammed the dog into the ground with full force, again repeatedly, all of
    this repeatedly.”

    During the 2007 race, eyewitnesses reported that musher Ramy Brooks kicked, punched and beat his dogs with a ski pole and a chain. Jon Saraceno wrote in his column in USA Today, “He [Colonel Tom Classen] confirmed dog beatings and far worse. Like starving dogs to maintain their most advantageous racing weight. Skinning them to make mittens. Or dragging them to their death.”

    Jim Welch says in his book Speed Mushing Manual, “Nagging a dog team is cruel and ineffective…A training device such as a whip is not cruel at all but is effective.” He also said, “It is a common training device in use among dog mushers…” Former Iditarod dog handler Mike Cranford wrote in Alaska’s Bush Blade Newspaper: “Dogs are clubbed with baseball
    bats and if they don’t pull are dragged to death in harnesses…..”

    Iditarod dog kennels are puppy mills. Most mushers have more than 50 dogs. Some have more than 100. Mushers breed large numbers of dogs and routinely kill unwanted ones, including puppies. Many dogs who are permanently disabled in the Iditarod, or who are unwanted for any reason, including those who have outlived their usefulness or have no economic value, are killed with a shot to the head, dragged, drowned or clubbed to death.

    FOR MORE FACTS: Sled Dog Action Coalition, http://www.helpsleddogs.org

  • Anonymous

    It’s great that Marshall is okay, but no dog should collapse.  The fact is that they are pushed beyond their limits which is cruel and serves no responsible purpose.  The Iditarod is too long, and the conditions and rough terrain too grueling for these dogs.  Too many dogs have died,–142 as far as we know, and only about half make it to the finish.  Dog deaths average nearly 4 a year. 

    They are the best-conditioned dogs in the world, yet they are dropped due to injury, illness, exhaustion, or just not wanting to continue.  There are laws in at least 38 states against over-driving and over-working animals, which is exactly what the Iditarod does. The Alaska cruelty statue that would apply to the sled dogs was changed in 2008 to exempt them.
    It is a once-a-year race for a group of egoist mushers to win money and bragging rights. The whole scheme of year-round training of the dogs and tethering (when not training or racing) each dog to his/her own small enclosure is no way to treat loyal companions. Tethering is considered inhumane and illegal in many communities. These magnificent dogs are treated like objects,–little machines that are only used for the sole purpose of mushers winning a brutal race. The Iditarod is clearly exploitation of sled dogs, and should have ended long ago. 

    As of this time, according to the “Standings” posted March 10, 10:54 PM, after 6 days of racing, only 1 musher is racing with all 16 of his dogs, two mushers have only 9 of their dogs, and about 240 dogs are out of the race.  The dogs are dropped at check points due to injury, illness, exhaustion, etc. the list goes on.  This means it is too grueling for them.

    How can this brutal, once-a-year race that serves no reasonable purpose be justified?