Dog reunited with owner months after vanishing from checkpoint

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(AP) — An Iditarod sled dog has been found safe and sound after going missing from a checkpoint during the race three months ago and traveling nearly 150 miles, the trail committee said Saturday. ‘Iditarod.

Musher Sebastien Dos Santos Borges de France was picking up Leon and returning with him to France, the trail committee said in a statement.

Leon disappeared in March after what the Tracking Committee said was his “escape” from Checkpoint Ruby. In May, residents of the town of McGrath, Alaska, more than 200 miles south of the checkpoint, reported to race director Mark Nordman that they had frequently seen Leon near a cabin.

The cabin resident and another musher left food for Leon in hopes of catching him, according to the trail committee. He was captured early Saturday morning and was safe, alert and “naturally lean but apparently healthy”, Iditarod spokeswoman Shannon Markley said.

Leon was due to see a vet in the coming days and needs a medical clearance before he can return to France, Markley said.

The nearly 1,000 mile (1,609 kilometer) race across Alaska began March 6 just north of Anchorage. The route took mushers along the unforgiving wilderness of Alaska, including two mountain ranges, the frozen Yukon River and the icy Bering Sea along the west coast of the state. Brent Sass won the race on March 15 when he crossed under the famous arcuate finish line in Nome.

On March 12, a dozen dogs had arrived with Dos Santos Borges in Ruby, a checkpoint within 500 miles from the start of the race.

Dos Santos Borges left Ruby on March 13 with 11 dogs, and scratched a few days later with nine dogs past the White Mountain checkpoint, located just under 900 miles (1,448 kilometers) into the race.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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