Commitment and attachment to one's dog can reach admirable levels, but a moment this week in the Iditarod showed just how far one owner would go to keep his prized pup alive.
Scott Janssen (seen at right with his sled team at the start of the race) was forced to make a decision when his dog collapsed while they were making their way down the Dalzell Gorge in Alaska. Marshall, Janssen's 9-year-old husky, suddenly fell in a heap in the midst of pulling hard at Janssen's sled.
"Boom! Laid right down. It was like a guy my age having a heart attack," Janssen told the Anchorage Daily News. Janssen is an Anchorage funeral home owner, who has dubbed himself "The Mushing Mortician."
When he rushed to Marshall's side, the outlook wasn't good.
"I know what death looks like, and he was gone. Nobody home," Janssen, an Iditarod sophomore (he finished 42 out of 47 last year), said.
For a musher devoted to his dogs, it was a heart-wrenching moment at the worst possible time. The Iditarod is a grind, forged by the will of the musher and his dogs, and the bond they share.
"I was sobbing," he said. He began mouth-to-snout CPR -- compressing the husky's chest and doing his best to breathe life into him. "I really love that dog."
Marshall had run Iditarod's before, and this year was to be his last trip to Nome. It made those few minutes of CPR all the more intense. Janssen tucked Marshall's tongue back into his mouth, and with the mouth held closed, kept breathing for him.
"I had my mouth over his nose, breathing into his nose I was compressing and rubbing his chest, trying to work the air out," Janssen said.
But for the first few minutes, nothing. Janssen persisted.
"I'm like, 'C'mon dude, please come back.'"
"And he did."
Marshall snapped back with a sharp breath. He then rode in the sled with Janssen to the next checkpoint, and despite a sled runner that broke along the way, got him to the event veterinarians.
"The vets took a look. Gave Marshall an IV, and he's heading home," Janssen's daughter, Chelsea, said. "He's doing just fine. He's still at the checkpoint and they're flying him back home today."
The reason the dog collapsed is unknown, and Janssen speculated it was a heart arrhythmia. In any case, Janssen's actions assured that Marshall will get some time to relax after pushing himself to the limit in the world's most grueling race. Marshall may have not won the race, but he'll get to relax the rest of the way while Janssen and the rest of the dogs march on.
Max Thompson is the Senior Editor at ThePostGame. Follow him on Twitter: @maxthompson.
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