Perhaps the most important decision for a musher is which dogs will make the team. The sixteen dogs John selected from his kennel for the 2012 team roster has over thirty years of combined Iditarod trail experience. Add his sixteen years and this means there is nearly fifty years of valuable trail experience between the musher and dogs he travels with.
|John puts harness on Sprocket|
Velvet and Snickers make up a “snappy front end” as described by 1989 Iditarod champ, Joe Runyan. Rising star athletes who happen to also be litter mates, Ripple, Swift, and Ocean, will be running with their father Summit, a leader who will most likely be sharing the lead during the long race.
A motivator for the rest of the team, Kona, will be running with her daughter, Angel, a rookie in this year’s team, who shows plenty of potential. Tough-looking Rambo, is as strong as he looks, and two of his off-spring also his teammates this year, Frankie and Speckle, both inherited his endurance. While brothers, Sprocket and Fender, have each run two Iditarod’s, this year is the first time they will be on the same team.
The most photographed dog on the team is Huffy, who always looks so poised. With a most recognizable voice and the one that alerts the team is Sonar, who has a penetrating bark and keeps watch for the other dogs. Finally, the biggest, most lovable dog on the line is Mongoose. For photos and information about each dog go to http://www.teamjohnbaker.com/team-baker.html .
|John and Velvet visiting vet |
A visit to the family doc and veterinarian, Dr. Phil Meyer and the Iditarod volunteer vets who checked over each dog to make sure they are healthy and ready to go, confirms this will once again be a powerful team. “Impressive athletic heart beats” said the vet tech as she reviewed the EKG which measures the heart activity for each dog. Everyone gathers to look at the EKG printout and a proud smile spreads across John’s face and he says, “It’s truly a privilege to travel with these amazing dogs.”This will be John’s seventeenth Iditarod. Each year prior to Iditarod40 Baker has come into the race as a strong contender yet has been under the radar. All that has changed since winning the 2011 Iditarod Sled Dog Race and now the spotlight is often on him. Known for being efficient and focused, John exhibits patience while dealing with all the attention, as he concentrates on his dogs. Soon the teams will be off and running and Team Baker can do what they do best and have been training for all year.
Are they ready? John's response to this question was, "Oh, yes! Both the dogs and I are very ready to get out on the trail!"
A potent combination includes: vast experience + readiness for the race + eagerness to get going + team toughness = a very race ready Team Baker.