’Dog Drama: Musher saves competitor’s dog in distress

Kali Katerberg/Daily Mining Gazette Musher Amy Malo checks over her dogs after a second-place finish. Due to trouble early in the race, Malo finished with a six-dog team in the 10-dog race.

CALUMET — A competing musher turned lifesaver in the middle of this weekend’s CopperDog race. As Amy Malo pushed her team trying to defend last year’s title, one of her dogs collapsed on the trail.

“We don’t know what happened. He just fall(s) down and he was choking really bad,” Malo said.

In the middle of the stage, there were no officials or emergency personnel around to help — except a competing musher, who suspended his race to treat the dog, possibly saving the athlete’s life.

Musher Frank Moe received the race’s Sportsman Award for his quick action that saved the life of another team’s dog.

“I was just panicking beside my dog and trying to do something but didn’t know what to do,” Malo said. “Frank went by and he just stopped the team.”

Kali Katerberg/Daily Mining Gazette Spectators give high fives to musher Jerry Papke as he nears the finish line.

A trained emergency medical technician, Moe performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on the dog after seeing Malo in distress on the trail, leaving his own team with another musher, a risky move.

Malo thinks the dog, Max, lost air after inhaling ice or snow.

“I still have my Max, and he is well. He’s just the happiest dog in the truck,” Malo said.

“I’ve done CPR a bunch of times, and it’s never worked. The first time it ever worked in my life was on a dog,” said an emotional Moe.

Despite the emergency on the trail, Malo was the first musher to cross the finish line, placing second in the race this year.

Malo finished with a team of only six dogs in the 10-dog 150. Two dogs seemed tired Saturday, so she pulled them, Malo explained.

“I didn’t take any chances,” she said.

First place in the 150 went to three-time champion Dennis LaBoda who has been to every CopperDog150 since the beginning.

“There’s a reason we come back. It’s one of the greatest events in dog mushing,” LaBoda said. The Minnesota resident feels like he’s coming to see family and friends each race.

“We came over here knowing that there were 10 or more teams that could win this race. We were hoping we could be competitive and (are) honored to take the position we did,” LaBoda said as he accepted his award.

Ryan Anderson placed third, Jake Golton was fourth, and Martha Schouweiler was fifth.

In the CopperDog80 Tristan Rivest took first place, Jerry Trudell finished second and Alex LaPlante took third.

Fourth place went to Liz van den Toom and fifth to Kelsey Beaber.

Volunteers, businesses, spectators and mushers came together for another successful race weekend.

“It takes an army to do this,” said first-year Race Director Jeff Foss at the awards presentation following the race. The many contributors were recognized for their role in keeping the race safe and smoothly running.

The race was well attended with an enthusiastic crowd taking advantage of the warmer weather, just warm enough for spectators to stay outside and just cold enough to not severely hamper the dogs.

This marked the third CopperDog for Christopher Morgan and his son, Theodore.

“The Friday night festivities were awesome,” he said. “I think that’s the biggest turnout I remember seeing. I love on Friday the dogs are super excited to get going…and then seeing them on Sunday is pretty emotional…because they’ve been working so hard they’ve got their tongues dragging,” Morgan said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

The crowds were a boon to Calumet businesses. According to Copper World owner Tony Bausano, this was the best year on record.

“We saw at least 10 to 15 percent more people, and it reflected the same thing in merchandise as far as sales went so it was good. We’re very pleased,” Bausano said.

Weather played a roll, he explained, with more families with kids out and about and attendees staying longer.