Or, go right to the story: Dog Feet
Have you ever thought about dogs' feet? I mean really thought. You and I put on our summer sandals because the pavement is a bit too hot...or we reach for our shoes to take a run down the trail behind the house because running barefoot, on rocks?! I don't think so...or, especially when it's 10 degrees out (like it is now), we wouldn't think of going outside barefoot.
So, what about the Iditarod sleddogs? They're out on the snow and ice for nearly 1,100 miles of running over some really cold and rugged countryside. And, that's just the race miles. It doesn't begin to count the training miles they put in!
So, what about those paws?
by Gary Paulsen
A single dog's foot will hit the ground roughly every two feet when he is trotting at an Iditarod pace of just under ten miles an hour.
So that one foot will hit the ground two thousand five hundred times in a mile.
All four feet on one dog will contact the ground approximately ten thousand times in one mile.
A team of sixteen dogs will therefore have their feet hit the ground one hundred and sixty thousand times in one mile.
Times, say, a hundred teams means that in general dogs' feet will contact the ground sixteen million times in one mile.
Times a thousand miles means dogs' feet will hit the snow well over sixteen billion times during the race.
Times four, means that dogs' toes will kiss the snow over sixty four billion times during the Iditarod race.
Which is probably a higher number than the number of stars in our galaxy.
And each foot, and each toe on each foot plus the space between the toes, has to be maintained and watched like a hawk. Any cut, any abrasion, even the slightest bit of potential redness is instantly treated and corrected lest it become a problem that causes discomfort to the dog....
Well over a thousand booties, each sprinkled with Gold Bond foot powder and put on with an ointment comprised of zinc oxide, aloe, and usually several other secret ingredients, will be used during the race, and feet become so important that many mushers obsess about them, dream about them, stare at them so long that some have been known to say that in the whole race, over a thousand miles, they didn't see anything but dog's feet as they flick/and/trot, mile after mile, the booties flashing in the headlamp light or the bright sun during the day.
Feet are everything.
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