Call of the Wild
Training’s done and it’s time for the real thing. Dallas Seavey and his team begin the 1,150-mile Iditarod.
What do you do when you are fully loaded, ready to start a long, hard haul in extreme conditions and your power plant is a dog?
If you’re Dallas Seavey, you add 15 more dogs and let ‘er rip!
On his 20th birthday, Seavey mushed 16 sled dogs off the start line of Alaska’s 2007 Iditarod sled dog race and headed out into 12 days of extreme, often unpredictable adventure across 1,150 miles of scary desolation and stunning beauty. With him went one of the best-known names in the trucking industry: J.J. Keller.
“If it hadn’t been for the Keller sponsorship I could not have raced,” says Seavey. “I was very fortunate; I had the best sponsor. I’d raced in 2005 and I wanted to race again, but I couldn’t afford it. That sponsorship made a dream a reality.”
J.J. Keller’s president and long-time Iditarod fan James J. “Jim” Keller met Seavey in Alaska six months earlier when Keller and his wife took their 30th wedding anniversary trip, an Alaskan Cruise.
Rosanne Keller found the Seaveys’ dog team tour business online and set up a tour at a cruise stop.
It was a teenage Seavey who picked up the Kellers in Seward, 125 miles south of Anchorage, and in pouring rain he and his dogs took them on a summertime tour, pulling them on a wheeled vehicle because of the lack of snow.
Jim Keller came away from that brief meeting with an idea buzzing in his head: “This young man uses some of the oldest hauling equipment known to man, and he’s going to be in an extreme race – and one of our products is an extreme solutions package for the transport industries. Hmmmm.”
Keller’s company, J. J. Keller & Associates, helps trucking companies manage risk and liability, satisfy complex government regulations, and implement safety and compliance best practices.
Keller gave the Seaveys his card, and when Dallas phoned him two weeks later, they set up the company’s sponsorship of his 2007 run.
J.J. Keller’s support includes food and veterinary care for the dogs, food and health care for Seavey, and health, clothing and protective wear, including products to keep the dogs warm and their feet safe from sharp ice.
“We work at the family dog team tour business in summer in Seward, but in the winter all I do is train and prepare for the race,” Seavey says. “I train 24-25 dogs at a time, all year. It takes way more money to get ready for it than you could ever win.”
Training includes bonding between musher and dog.
“These dogs have to trust their musher, to know that he will never ask them to do something they can’t do,” Seavey says. “And the musher has to trust the dogs, because when you are 200 miles from anywhere, they are your only lifeline. We have no GPS, no cell phone, no satellite or any other form of communication.”