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Grand Forks Herald, Published March 15 2009

Musher reunited with sled dog in Alaska

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Thompson musher Nancy Yoshida has been reunited with her missing sled dog in Alaska, more than three days after the Alaskan husky ran away during the Iditarod.

Nigel was found by an Iditarod search party on snowmobiles Friday afternoon after running loose in the wild for days. Owners of a nearby lodge were able to coax Nigel to them.

“I can’t tell you how happy I am,” Yoshida said. “It’s such a huge relief. Not getting him back would have been my worst nightmare. I would have been devastated to lose an amazing animal like that.”

The dog – one of 16 in Yoshida’s team – ran away early Tuesday after being unhooked from the sled as Yoshida went down a gorge.

Yoshida, 58, dropped out of the Iditarod that day when her sled broke, after going 136 of the 1,151 miles. Mushers also are not allowed to continue if a dog is lost.

When Nigel was found, the rescuers radioed Yoshida, who flew to the site from Willow, Alaska, where the race started.

“Nigel was absolutely thrilled to see me,” she said. “I said his name, and he came right up to me and gave me a kiss.”

Yoshida said she feels bad for her dogs.

“All that time and energy and training these dogs have gone through, and they don’t get to go to Nome,” she said.

With Nigel safe, Yoshida plans to fly to Nome to witness the finish of the Iditarod. She does not know if she will give the race a second try.

The Forum and the Grand Forks Herald are both owned by Forum Communications Co.